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Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Leadership

Mark Kelly is the Commissioner [pending Chicago City Council approval in September 2016] of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), which presents and promotes high-quality free festivals, exhibitions, performances and holiday celebrations each year in parks, the historic Chicago Cultural Center and other venues throughout the city. He was appointed to the post by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in July 2016.

Kelly previously served as the Vice President for Student Success at Columbia College Chicago for more than 30 years to foster and oversee an immersive arts experience for Columbia’s burgeoning student body, across its 100 different degree programs. Kelly has served in numerous leadership roles at Columbia, all while consistently supporting students who view the world through a creative lens in attaining a world-class education that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business.

Kelly has amassed more than 40 years of experience working as an academic administrator, with prior positions at Wayne State University and City Colleges of Chicago. Kelly is founder and chair of the Columbia’s Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) initiative, framing the South Loop as a hub for street art, installations, and spectacle, and is the artistic director of the Halloween Gathering, an annual parade and festival celebrating Chicago's cultural communities. Throughout his career, Kelly has served on many arts and cultural-centric boards, with active roles on the following: Arts Alliance Illinois Board; the Chicago Loop Alliance Board; and America's Urban Campus Committee. Kelly holds a master of arts in counseling from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor of arts in sociology from John Carroll University.