Guided by his dedication to family, faith and community, The Honorable Francis X. Kelly Jr. has carved out an exemplary role in public service, business and civic involvement—a career grounded in his spiritual commitment to personal ethics and professional integrity.
A resident of Hunt Valley, Maryland, Frank and his wife, Janet, in 1976 founded a business in the basement of their Timonium home to assist owners of small companies acquire affordable health insurance benefits for their employees. Today, Kelly & Associates Insurance Group (KAIG) is one of Maryland’s fastest growing privately held firms. It is the region’s leading health insurance broker/administrator with approximately 10,000 corporate clients. The expanding enterprise (Kelly Benefits), now run by their four sons, includes other entities that provide payroll and retirement plan services and, together, Kelly Benefits now employs approximately 500 people at its Sparks and regional offices. Frank is the Chairman of KAIG.
He is a graduate of Villanova University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics, a major that has proved its value. In 1979, Frank won election to the Maryland State Senate representing the citizens of northern Baltimore County. It was the start of a 12-year tenure defined by leadership, effectiveness and compassion.
Senator Kelly sponsored Maryland’s Spending Affordability Law, which created the Spending Affordability Committee in 1984 and has since saved taxpayers millions of dollars. He also supported legislation that helped create the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), the University System of Maryland and the upgrade and revamping of the Medevac helicopter fleet.
He worked closely with Dr. R Adams Cowley, the father of shock trauma, and was primary sponsor of the law creating the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The Honorable Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professorship in Trauma Surgery, the nation’s first chair in trauma surgery, was named by The University of Maryland School of Medicine after Mr. Kelly in 2000. This professorship is held by Dr. Thomas M. Scalea, who is considered the finest trauma surgeon in the world.
In 1984, Senator Kelly was part of a team of legislators that helped pass legislation, signed into law by Governor Harry Hughes, that led to the successful separation of the financially challenged University of Maryland Hospital from the University of Maryland, creating the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). This private, not-for-profit entity is today a multibillion network of 13 hospitals that serves as a national model of stability, patient safety and medical innovation.
For the next 35 years following its founding, Senator Kelly continued his passion for and commitment to UMMS’ success by serving in numerous board and committee roles. He served as chairman of the Shock Trauma Board of Visitors from its inception through 2019 as well as chairman of the Board of University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, a role he assumed in 2012 and held for seven years. Mr. Kelly is also a former member of the University of Maryland Medical Center board.
Mr. Kelly has been a trusted adviser to governors of both parties and to other political and business leaders. He is such a driving force for positive change that two successive governors from different parties appointed him to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents where he served from 2005-2016.
In 1996, Frank was asked by Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger to help revamp the Community College of Baltimore County. As board chair from 1996-2005, he consolidated three separate colleges (Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk) into a single, multi-campus institution that is thriving as the state’s largest community college system. CCBC’s Hunt Valley Center is named in his honor. Frank also served 14 years as vice chair of the Morgan State University Board of Regents from 1991-2005.
In 2011, Frank and Janet Kelly were named the Outstanding Philanthropists of the year by the Maryland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. They also were honored by The Children’s Guild, which named its Autism Center after them in 2012.
He is immediate past chair of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and remains on its board. He helped spearhead the $650 million capital campaign of the University System of Maryland, Baltimore; Shock Trauma’s $160 million building campaign, and has been prominent in revitalizing the Calvert Hall College High School campus. Frank is also an active member at Caves Valley Golf Club where he sits on the Board of Directors.
In 2016, Frank was named an inaugural inductee in the Baltimore Sun’s Maryland Business and Civic Hall of Fame as well as the Catholic Business Person of the Year by the Catholic Business Network of Baltimore. His other awards include: the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center’s “St. Joseph the Worker Award,” the Calvert Hall President’s Medal, first recipient of the Baltimore Association of Health Underwriters’ “Person of the Year” award; the Maryland Association of Health Underwriters’ Hall of Fame; the Maryland Motor Truck Association’s “Man of the Year;” Stuart Macht Award for Business Excellence (Baltimore County government); Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame; the Chimes Hall of Fame; the Dyslexia Tutoring Foundation’s “Man of the Year;” the American Trauma Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award, and the Msgr. Bonner High School (Drexel Hill, PA) Hall of Fame. Frank Kelly has been recognized as one of the top 100 Irish business leaders in the United States by Irish America magazine.
In 2019, Surrender to Win, The Story of The Honorable Francis X. Kelly Jr., was published. Beginning on the stoops of Brooklyn, the book follows Frank’s journey through marriage, raising a family, and the founding and continued growth of Kelly Benefits, to his service in the Maryland State Senate and beyond, all while sharing the experiences and simple principles that have guided his approach to life.
In 2021, Frank and Janet proudly celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. It is a partnership dedicated to faith and family (22 grandchildren). All of their sons, Frank III, John, David and Bryan, work with their father at Kelly Benefits—a privilege for Frank and a formula for success that has taken the company to a level he never imagined.