Author, HR expert, speaker, mother, confidante, mentor/mentee matchmaker, career advisor, panel of one — and so much more, too. A driven, experienced and successful HR leader with a proven track record working at some of the biggest names in healthcare across the country, Kelley’s had a career for the books. In fact, it is a book! Kelley’s mission? To help you make the most of your career by sharing her personal and professional experiences, tried-and-true tips and expert opinions.
Whether you’re reading her new book “It’s Work! How Will You Show Up?,” listening to her speak at a leadership summit or meeting her for lunch to discuss your next move at the office, count on Kelley to be direct but really easy to engage with, too.
There’s a quote that hangs above Kelley’s desk. It says: “Ability can take you to the top, but it takes Character to keep you there.” Note the capital C in Character. For Kelley, reading this quote every day keeps her humble. She’s had a lot of big wins professionally, but it’s her Character that keeps her grounded … at the top.
Kelley with Teresa Wolfgang, Women’s Resource Center
Kelley was born in Augusta, GA. From an early age, she was actively involved in her community and church — and filled with school spirit. In high school, Kelley was an avid cheerleader, eventually earning a cheerleading scholarship to attend The University of South Carolina – Aiken.
Kelley has lived and traveled across the globe — from South Carolina to Northeast Africa. An unforgettable experience for her traveling internationally was part of an educational program that brought her and her teenage son to Africa. Together they covered 600 miles starting in Cairo, Egypt, toured the Nile, saw the Valley of the Kings and spent three semesters preparing for the experience. The 27-month long journey began in America with Kelley helping to prepare her son and 100 of his peers — many of whom had never left home overnight — for international travel. The trip was essential in shaping Kelley’s perspective but it also helped prepare her son for success at college. For Kelley, it all begins at home. How you prepare your family for what’s NEXT for them is just as important as how you prepare yourself.
When Kelley worked at the internationally renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she had the opportunity to work with families, children and physicians from all over the world. She met people from everywhere, with incredibly diverse backgrounds and perspectives. During these high-stress situations where access to medicine often meant the difference between life and death, Kelley was amazed at the healing power of connection. The connections Kelley has made in her personal and business travels abroad and within the U.S. have made her a truly global thinker with the ability to see the entire picture.
Faith is the cornerstone of Kelley’s life. An active leader in her community church, Kelley helps lead the women’s ministry. Together with women from all walks and stages of life, Kelley works through issues like regaining financial balance, parenting challenges, personal relationships, career moves and so much more. What Kelley loves most is helping these women connect the dots. Everyone is looking for the conversation that will help get them to the NEXT place. Through her faith and own personal experiences, Kelley is able to find that conversation for these women — whether it be a conversation they need to have with her, themselves or God.
Kelley wakes up early — at 4 a.m. to be exact. She then spends two hours before sunrise in deep meditation and prayer, strategizing her day. This morning ritual grounds Kelley, allowing her to be purposeful in everything she does. It also helps her to execute everything she sets out to do.
As a leader, Kelley makes execution her top priority. Nowhere was this more evident than when she served as chair for the 2014 Philadelphia Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Symposium. The event was the biggest of its kind to date, nearly doubling in size in 2014, and featured Steve Forbes as the keynote speaker. As chair, Kelley made sure her team was three steps ahead of where they needed to be at all times. Whether Kelley is organizing an event of this size, collaborating on a project with colleagues or fulfilling a promise to help out a friend, she is going to do what she set out to do. No matter what.
Kelley with supporters from Comcast and CHOP
In early April 2017, Kelley was named Head of U.S. Diversity and Inclusion for TD Bank, where she will leverage her expertise as a senior talent executive, speaker and author to provide insight, advice and intelligence to support the integration of diversity and inclusion across the bank. Working with senior-level executives as part of the Bank’s Diversity Leadership team (DLT), she will support the DLT, its subcommittees and councils, along with key partners inside and outside the Bank to drive strategic efforts that enhance TD’s commitment to sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce and customer experience.
Before working with TD Bank, Kelley was a national diversity and inclusion and human resources executive in healthcare. She spent her days carefully coaching those who hoped to make their NEXT move within HR or and other fields, working with emerging leaders seeking that NEXT assignment, promoting diversity and inclusion understanding within communities and organizations, advocating for flexible work arrangements and seeking connection points for good talent within the workforce, community organizations and on boards of directors.
Kelley’s had an incredibly successful career, but it hasn’t been without its own ups and downs. She’s experienced big wins such as the time she became the first woman and youngest person ever to be named executive director for a US Department of Commerce center at the age of 27. And then there is the pinnacle of her career — a morning spent with Steve Forbes. As the chair for a symposium at which Forbes was the keynote speaker, Kelley had the opportunity to interview the legend in person. The experience was the ultimate intellectual and professional moment for Kelley, a moment when all her hard work paid off.
But there have been low points, too. After landing a dream job, Kelley was fired a few years later. It was the first time in her life when she was truly unsure of what to do next. In order to get to the high points in a career, there are going to be low points. Kelley has learned how to make the most of tough experiences, making them into important lessons, conversation pieces and turning points for others.
Kelley has served as the president of one of the largest HR trade associations in the country, the Philadelphia chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and also as an HR leader with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Her professional career included tenure as an assistant vice president in corporate relations in the banking industry, a human resources professional in education and vice president of marketing and development in the nonprofit arena.
Certified as a diversity professional (CCDP) by Cornell University, Kelley holds a Master’s in HR Management from Webster University and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina – Aiken. She has trained and developed leaders and staff at leading organizations that include AmeriCorps, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Education Works, SOS International Assistance Inc., Airgas, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), Sunoco, and international visiting scholars and students from China attending the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Temple University. Kelley is also a certified facilitator on 360° Leadership by The John Maxwell Company.
Kelley Cornish: Diversity & Inclusion Expert: NBC10 in Philadelphia highlighted Kelley Cornish and her 20 years of work making workplaces more diverse and inclusive.
In high school and college, Kelley was an avid cheerleader. Today, she’s a different sort of cheerleader: supporting and encouraging the teams she works on in the office, and cheering on the careers of all she meets along the way.
In order to get to the high points in a career, there are going to be low points.
Kelley’s experienced big wins: She was the first woman and youngest person ever to be named executive director for a U.S. Department of Commerce center at the age of 27.
But low points, too: After landing a dream job, Kelley was fired a few years later. It was the first time in her life when she was truly unsure of what to do next.
Certified as a diversity professional (CCDP) by Cornell University, Kelley holds a Master’s in HR Management from Webster University and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina – Aiken.