Kerri Ann Kelly CE’96

For the past 13 years, Kerri has been working mainly in sub-Saharan Africa with the French organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders. Amongst others, she has worked in Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Chad, Libya, and for over five years in South Sudan. Currently, she is based, again, in South Sudan with the International NGO Safety Organization (INSO), a Dutch not-for-profit. Kerri has led innovative programming, including HIV programming, seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaigns, and complex negotiations with governments and armed groups for humanitarian access. Kerri thrives working in situations supporting populations displaced by natural disaster or conflict; people walk for days to reach safety, and Kerri leads teams that support their medical, physical, and psychological well-being. While it is challenging to work in resource limited and conflict-affected contexts for over a decade, Kerri finds the work rewarding.

After graduating from The Cooper Union in 1996, Kerri worked for a few years as a structural engineer in New York City. She completed an MBA at New York University in 2001 and began work at Bear Stearns the same year. In 2008, with the financial crisis in full effect, she decided to change industries and try something new. What she initially thought of as a yearlong trial became a new career. At MSF, Kerri had many roles within the administration and operations departments, including Project Coordinator, Emergency Coordinator, and Head of Mission. Currently, she works in South Sudan as the Country Director for INSO.

Kerri credits The Cooper Union of teaching her how to work incredibly hard and the value of a community; these are qualities that translate directly to humanitarianism. In addition, the world class education at The Cooper Union provided Kerri with a solid foundation to pursue professional opportunities around the world.

Kerri is the 2022 recipient of the CUAA Peter Cooper Public Service Award and will be inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame on February 10, 2022.