George W. Romney Award

James (Jim) Kelly, Trustee, Cranbrook Educational Community

George W. Romney Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteerism

Nominated by: Cranbrook Educational Community

James Kelly has had a distinguished career in education policy, education finance, philanthropy, and teaching standards, assessments, and certification. From 1987-99 he was Founding President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), where he led efforts to create National Board Certification (NBC), the advanced professional certification program for accomplished elementary and secondary teachers. Almost all states recognize NBC and many pay higher compensation to National Board-Certified Teachers, the first time in the nation’s history that states provide additional salary increments to teachers recognized as meeting higher standards for teaching quality. More than 150,000 teachers are Board-Certified.

From 2008-10 he was co-director of Strategic Management of Human Capital. The project’s national task force, selected states and dozens of urban school districts engaged in analyzing successful human capital reforms in the private sector and developing policy initiatives for education that emphasize talent recruitment and performance management. From 1970-81, Kelly was senior program officer at the Ford Foundation, where he influenced state education finance and tax policies to financial support for public education more equitable. He was President of Spring Hill Center in Wayzata, MN from 1981-85 and in 1985-87 was President of the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. Earlier he was an assistant and associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and taught courses at the Kennedy School and Graduate School of Education at Harvard University (1974-76). He was responsible for education policy at the National Urban Coalition during the 1968-69 urban upheavals, and from 1961-63 worked at Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan to establish the Institute of Education and Research.

Mr. Kelly began his career as a teacher, assistant principal, and assistant superintendent of the public schools in Ladue, MO. His B.A. (1954) is from Shimer College, then an integral part of the College of the University of Chicago. His M.A. in 1956 is from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in 1966 is from Stanford University, with concentrations in education, economics, and political science.

Since retiring from the NBPTS in 1999, Mr. Kelly has served as a senior advisor to leaders of many organizations, including the World Bank, the National Academy of Sciences (working to develop their Strategic Education Research Program), Atlantic Philanthropies, the Hunt Institute at the University of North Carolina, Standard and Poors, Widmeyer Communications, SchoolNet, Wireless Generation, the Henry Ford Learning Institute, and others.

Mr. Kelly has volunteered his services to many organizations throughout his career. For ten years he chaired the National Board of Advisors for TeachingWorks, a teacher education initiative at the University of Michigan. For more than twenty years, he served on the executive board of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education and for ten years on the Board of Overseers of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. For many years he was co-chair of Learning to Give, a nonprofit project that worked with teachers to develop 2000 online teaching units to help students learn about volunteerism, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector. He is a trustee of the Cranbrook Educational Community and Life Governor of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum. He also served as vice-chair of the Cranbrook Art Academy Board of Governors and Chair of its Art Museum Committee. For over 20 years he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Educational Leadership, in Washington, DC. For 25 years he has been a board member of Musica Sacra, New York City’s only all-professional choral music organization whose concerts at Carnegie Hall and other New York City venues receive rave reviews.

Mentored throughout his career by extraordinarily wise leaders, Mr. Kelly in turn assists many friends and colleagues as they develop their own careers and spheres of influence. Mr. Kelly has four children and seven grandchildren. His wife, Mariam C. Noland, is the founding President of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.