Lori Kelley Proves You Can Have It All – With a Little Multitasking


Lori Kelley Proves You Can Have It All – With a Little MultitaskingBy Tabitha Yang

For a while, Lori Kelley thought she wanted to go into a health-related field such as nursing. She was on her way to completing the necessary science coursework, but then she discovered that chemistry wasn’t her favorite subject.

She disliked it so much, in fact, that she decided to switch her major altogether. As she was hunting for alternatives, Chuck Kelley, the man who would eventually become her husband, suggested she take some business courses.

“I took a principles-of-accounting course, and I absolutely loved it,” Lori Kelley says. “So that’s what I decided to do.”

She graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of West Florida, and today, the 41-year-old Kelley is a partner in the accounting firm O’Sullivan Creel.

“Apparently I have a very methodical business mind,” she says. “It just took me a while to find it.”

During the time she has been at O’Sullivan Creel, Kelley has helped the firm move smoothly through a merger, instituting monthly tax and accounting-services group meetings to make sure people within the firm and in the different practice areas were communicating effectively with each other.

And in 2004, after being made a partner, she became the youngest partner to hold the position of director of tax for the firm’s Destin office.

In addition to maintaining her busy schedule at the office, Kelley has served as chairwoman of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. She is currently president of the Northwest Florida College Foundation and is on the board of trustees of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.

“She is an incredible woman who has a great deal of talent and experience and certainly gives to her community in major ways,” says Dawn Moliterno, president and CEO of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re very fortunate to have Lori in this community and serving us.”

Kelley won the 2008 Athena Award for Okaloosa, Walton and Bay Counties, an honor that goes to women who have made significant strides in their careers, have contributed to their communities and have been role models for other professional women.

Despite Kelley’s professional and civic commitments, she still finds time to go to her sons’ baseball and football games and her daughter’s recitals.

“It’s not always easy,” she says of her working-mother status. “I don’t want to make it sound like it is. I try to be realistic about it when I talk to people.”

Nevertheless, the support of her husband and children make it possible, she says. Kelley is proof that women can have a successful career and family life if they’re willing to juggle their responsibilities and multitask.

In addition to her many other responsibilities, Kelley also takes time out to mentor young professionals and a fifth-grade girl in the local public school system.

“I think mentoring in and of itself is very important, whether we’re talking about women, young professionals or kids at school,” she says.

As far as advice on mentoring goes, she thinks it is important to identify with the person one is mentoring.

“People can’t take good advice from people they don’t relate to,” she says. “You’ve got to be able to relate and have a relationship with somebody, and it’s got to be someone that you respect.”

One reason Kelley thinks mentoring is so important is because she has people in her own life that she looks up to. Gene Barker, a partner with O’Sullivan Creel who has been with the firm for 29 years, is one of them.

“As far as the firm is concerned, she’s an excellent CPA, very service-oriented to her clients and respected in the community for her expertise in income tax and business consulting,” Barker says. “She’s probably one of the fastest that I’ve seen mature in her career and her profession.”