Patrick E. Kelly is the 14th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, having taken office on March 1, 2021. He serves as the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with more than 2 million members internationally.
Mr. Kelly has had a distinguished career in the Knights of Columbus, the military and public service. His demonstrated track record of service to Church and country for more than 25 years serves him well in advancing the Knights’ mission of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.
Mr. Kelly served as Deputy Supreme Knight from 2017 until February 28, 2021. Previously, he served as Vice President for Public Policy for 11 years, spearheading the Knights’ interaction with the White House, U.S. Congress and federal agencies. He also served as State Deputy in the District of Columbia. As a longtime executive and fraternal leader of the Knights of Columbus, he has consistently strengthened its record of charity, advocacy, insurance, investing and membership growth.
Mr. Kelly served as the first executive director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and oversaw the renewal of the facility after its purchase by the Knights in 2011. During his tenure, the shrine became a leading pilgrimage site and a source of education and inspiration for Catholics throughout the United States and the world.
Prior to his leadership roles in the Knights, Mr. Kelly pursued a lengthy career of public service. Most notably, he was Senior Advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department. His responsibilities included serving as the Department’s principal liaison with the Holy See and assisting with the formulation of U.S. foreign policy on religious freedom worldwide. He led U.S. delegations to the World Summit on Islamic-Christian dialogue (2005), the UN conference on interfaith cooperation (2005), and annual Sant’Egidio conferences. He also held legal advisory roles on the House Intelligence Committee and in the Department of Justice, where he specialized in counterterrorism and national security.
Mr. Kelly served in the United States Navy for 24 years, on land and sea, on active duty and reserve status. As a Judge Advocate General, he specialized in international and operational law and served as the Commanding Officer of the international law unit at the U.S. Naval War College. He served on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations and aboard the USS Guam as the Staff Judge Advocate for Amphibious Squadron Two. His personal awards include three Navy Achievement Medals, five Navy Commendation Medals and the Meritorious Service Medal. He retired from the JAG Corps Reserve in 2016.
Mr. Kelly serves as consultant to four committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB): the Committee on Pro-life Activities, the Committee on Religious Liberty, the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
Mr. Kelly was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the March for Life (United States) from 2012-2021. Under his leadership, the March for Life became one of the most effective pro-life organizations in the world. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) since 2013. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America (CUA) and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Mr. Kelly holds a master’s degree in theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at CUA, a law degree from Marquette University Law School and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Marquette, where he joined the Knights of Columbus in 1983.
He and his wife, Vanessa, have three daughters. They live in Connecticut.