Kelly Fair is the Founder and Executive Director of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, an Illinois Gold Star rated mentoring program that enhances the life skills, career readiness, and leadership ability of girls and young women. She is the author of They’re All the Same Girl and Every Girl Is a CEO. Kelly is an award-winning social entrepreneur and sought-after speaker who advocates for girls, women, mentoring, and workforce pipelining.
Kelly, a trained speech pathologist, began her innovative career directing college prep and work-study programs, which she created for Urban high school and college students. Next, she worked on the development and marketing of national literacy programs, impacting the lives of children from early childhood to middle school.
Because of this experience, Kelly saw a gap in girls-centered programming to help them build strong communication skills at home, at school, and in preparation for the future workplace; this led her to start Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program.
Since launching Polished Pebbles in 2009 in Chicago, Kelly’s signature communications and job readiness programming has expanded from elementary age girls to include high schools, college programs, families, prominent women leaders, and to sites across the Chicagoland area and in Northwest Indiana, Dallas, Texas, and North Carolina. Polished Pebbles has worked with over 5,000 African American and Latinx girls and young women and provided over 500 mentors in hundreds of schools and has raised $2MM+ for partnering schools and communities.
Though widely known as “The Mentor,” Kelly’s true gift is unleashing a girl’s innate greatness so she can live her best life now and in the future. Mentoring plays a big role in Kelly’s “Girl to Great” model, as does instruction, practical hands-on activities, and partnerships. Kelly’s work in youth development and girls advocacy has been featured by ESSENCE, EBONY, and Black Enterprise magazines, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Woman magazine, and The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Her work on behalf of girls and young women has earned recognition from the U.S. State Department, Bank of America, Ann Taylor, Vital Voices, ComEd, Verizon, Google, Duke University, Chicago Foundation for Women, Operation PUSH, Social Enterprise Alliance, and more.
She currently serves on the U.S. Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Taskforce and the Illinois Council for Women and Girls.
Kelly is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Iowa, with honors. She is a true “south side girl” and lives in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.