Kelly, 31, worked for both a Republican and a Democrat. As it turned out, it was the same person. Before joining the Obama administration, she spent five years as a spokeswoman for the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Specter left the Republican Party in 2009 to run for reelection as a Democrat. Two months after Specter lost his Democratic primary fight with then-Rep. Joe Sestak in 2010, Kelly announced she was leaving to join the administration. She began her career at Interior as deputy communications director, writing speeches for then-Secretary Ken Salazar. She was promoted to communications director in May 2012. Matt Lee-Ashley, Kelly's predecessor as communications director and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, called her "one of the best writers" he's come in contact with during his career. "She's able to take very complicated issues and policies and make them more understandable," Lee-Ashley said. Citing her calm and encouraging leadership style, Lee-Ashley said that Kelly is able to get more out of her staff than a typical, hard-charging Washington flack. Kelly, a Denver native, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.