Mark Kelly is the Commissioner 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, where he fostered and oversaw an immersive arts experience for Columbia’s burgeoning student body, across its 100 different degree programs. For more than 30 years, Kelly served in numerous leadership roles at Columbia, 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 was the founder of the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) initiative, and he created the artistic vision for the Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade. He is a percussionist who worked with free form jazz artist Hal Russell, and he had the honor of bringing percussion to an Allen Ginsberg performance. 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.