Kelly Bates

Interim President

Kelly Bates is a social changer, nonprofit civic and political leader and lawyer who has led advocacy, racial justice and women’s organizations for more than 20 years promoting civic engagement locally and nationally. She has strived to be a transformational leader, facilitator, trainer, and civic innovator for progressive movement building.

Kelly serves as Chief of Staff and Democracy Strategy for the Interaction Institute for Social Change. She oversees and manages the strategic direction for the organization and its new initiatives, and supports the leadership and staff of IISC to meet its highest aspirations for social change using its tested and new methods to foster Big Democracy through a collaborative change approach.

Prior to her work at IISC, she was the founding Executive Director of the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research at Emerson College. She also served as the Executive Director of Access Strategies Fund, a social justice foundation, funding organizations to expand democracy in communities of color and low-income communities. For ten years, Kelly led a consulting and training practice specializing in working with social change organizations and other institutions in the United States around issues of power, diversity, and organizational development.

Kelly has spent many years in political circles and spaces in Boston. She is a regular political contributor on WGBH 89.7FM Boston’s public radio station and New England Cable News.

Kelly is known for her passionate belief in people, social movements, and inclusive politics.



FieldNotes from Kelly Bates