Kate Kelly is a zealous advocate and passionate activist. She has a JD from American University Washington College of Law, the only law school in the world founded by, and for, women. She graduated cum laude in 2012, and received the Class of 2012 Peter M. Cicchino Award for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest. She is a vocal women’s rights champion in the U.S., and around the world.
In her legal career she has had various incredible opportunities including working as an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights; a law clerk at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; a research assistant to the Chair of the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland; a post-grad fellow at the Women’s Refugee Commission; an attorney at the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights; Legal Advisor for Legal Action Worldwide working on sexual violence legislation in Somalia, and litigating before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; consultant for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees report Women on the Run; and Strategic Advocacy & Policy Counsel at the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. Kate is currently the Legal Fellow for the Human Rights in the U.S. Project at Columbia Law School. Kate believes the simple and popular adage that women’s rights are human rights, and is committed to legal advocacy & education for women & other marginalized groups.
Kate is fluent in Spanish, loves engaging in local politics and serves on the executive board of Utah Women Unite, a local grassroots organization she co-founded to advocates for women’s rights and political empowerment of women in Utah.

In 2013 Kate founded a group called Ordain Women to advocate for gender equality in the Mormon Church. She was convicted of apostasy by 3 male Mormon leaders & excommunicated from the church in June 2014 for speaking out against the institutional oppression of women. But, Kate’s work for women’s equality continues unabated. Thanks to her work with Ordain Women, and her outspoken advocacy, Kate has a Wikipedia page accompanied by a disambiguation term she is proud of: Kate Kelly (feminist).

Kate’s passion for justice and equality guides both her work and her activism. You can follow her on Twitter to get the latest updates on what she’s working on.

Human Rights Attorney

As an attorney focused specifically on international human rights litigation Kate has worked with clients from Peru, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Egypt, Cuba, Mexico and Somalia, as well as the United States.



Kate has experience with the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Kate has worked with clients operating under strict security protocols and in very low-infrastructure environments. In addition to research and writing, she has interviewed clients and conducted fact-finding missions in-country.


Kate has been an outspoken activist for social justice working on causes such as immigrant rights, torture abolition and the campaign to end violence against women. In 2012, Kate helped plan a conference in DC for LGTBQIA Mormons and their allies and was featured in the Washington Blade as an ally. In 2013 Kate founded a worldwide grassroots organization to fight gender inequality within her faith tradition called Ordain Women. The movement combines both effective, worldwide social media campaigns and in-person direct action to organize Mormon women, magnify their voices, and speak out against gender inequality. In March of 2013 Kate constructed the website ordainwomen.org using the WordPress platform and the site has received, to date, nearly 4 million page views. The movement has grown from a small handful of courageous women to hundreds of active participants, and thousands of supporters worldwide. A few links about Kate’s gender equality activism in the Mormon Church: • New York Times article • BBC World Service radio documentaryMy Op Ed in The Guardian ‘Feminism in Faith’ from BuzzFeedArticle in The Atlantic

In January 2017 Kate helped plan the Utah contingent of the Women’s March on Washington and planned, executed and emceed the largest march in Utah State history on the Capitol in Salt Lake City on January 23. Kate and her co-founders captured the momentum of the women’s marches into a permanent, grassroots group called Utah Women Unite. Utah Women Unite exists to protect and advance the rights of all Utah women, girls, marginalized, and non-binary people in all communities.

For additional links to media coverage about Kate’s activism, visit her Press page.

Women’s rights march in Honolulu, Hawaii

Planned the largest march in Utah State history on the Capitol. January 23, 2017.

At a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment


Kate is proud to be a graduate of American University Washington College of Law. At WCL she had world class training in international human rights law from some of the best human rights lawyers of our time. Her graduating year she was honored to receive the school’s top honor for public service, the Peter M. Cicchino Public Service Award. In the Washington College of Law International Human Rights Clinic she successfully represented an East-African client in an asylum case in court before an Immigration Judge in Virginia and represented a group of Peruvians erroneously labeled, and punished as terrorists under the Fujimori regime in their petitions before the Inter-American Commission. She was very active in her student National Lawyers Guild chapter, serving as Student Chapter Chair from 2009 – 2012, working on issues such as death penalty abolition and the intersection of Hip Hop music and social justice organizing.


Kate has many interests… too many to count! She loves travel, vegetarian and international cuisine, the outdoors, hiking, yoga, collecting folk art, ethical fashion and is a wax-print fabric & mid century modern enthusiast. Most of all, she loves meeting, and talking with, new and interesting people. ¡Además, ella habla español!


[T]he only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars… – Jack Kerouac

To follow some of Kate’s personal adventures, find her on Instagram!