Ariana Kelly represents District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Ariana is a lifelong advocate for Montgomery County. She has a proven track record in Annapolis and Washington on issues that matter to Montgomery County, including health care, the environment, and education. In 2010, she was elected to Maryland’s House of Delegates representing the 16th District, which includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Potomac.
A Deputy Majority Whip, Ariana serves on the legislature’s Health and Government Operations Committee, and Chairs the Health Occupations and Long Term Care Subcommittee and the Montgomery County Delegation Economic Development Committee. She also Chairs the Joint Committee on Children, Youth, and Families and the Task Force to Establish Paid Family Leave. She is President of the Women Legislators of Maryland, the caucus of 60 diverse women State Senators and Delegates serving in Maryland’s General Assembly.
In the legislature, Ariana was the lead sponsor for Maryland’s Contraceptive Equity Act, as well as legislation requiring parental leave and investing in child care. She has been a supporter of important issues including Maryland’s fracking ban, marriage equality, and paid sick leave.
Ariana’s Lifelong Commitment to Public Service
After graduating from Walter Johnson High School, Ariana attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, she developed a passion for advocacy on public health and violence prevention issues as a student health advocate. After graduation, Ariana returned to Montgomery County, where she started her career helping connect people with social services at Travelers Aid International.
Ariana moved to New York and continued building experience on issues that matter to families, including youth empowerment and domestic violence education. In addition to working at Girls Inc, and Legal Momentum, Ariana also volunteered for numerous Democratic political campaigns, and public health nonprofits. She settled back in Bethesda and welcomed her daughter, Maeve.
She then began producing PBS’ To The Contrary, a weekly news program. She covered a wide range of issues including state and federal legislation, business, education, health, and the environment. As a journalist, Ariana learned to evaluate issues from different perspectives, to ask tough questions, and when appropriate, dig deep below the surface.
Her next position was to serve as Executive Director at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. No longer a journalist committed to being objective, Ariana became a highly-effective advocate for women’s health and access to family planning in Annapolis. She also gained critical experience with relationship building and working in coalitions to achieve legislative and policy goals.
Ariana then joined MomsRising.org as a National Campaign Director. MomsRising is an innovative online advocacy organization that works to build a more family-friendly nation. Through her work at MomsRising, Ariana has honed her skills working on a wide array of policy issues, including environmental health, family economic security, early learning, and more. Highlights include working on the successful Maryland BPA bill (and similar bills in other states), federal reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, healthcare reform, and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
A lifelong Democrat, Ariana has served on the Board of Directors of the Democratic Women’s PAC of Maryland.
Ariana’s Deep Local Roots
Ariana grew up in Bethesda and attended Ashburton Elementary, Tilden Intermediate School, and Walter Johnson High School.
If you were in Bethesda in the 1990’s, Ariana probably made you a salad at the Everything Yogurt at Montgomery Mall, checked out your videos at Blockbuster, brewed your coffee at Starbucks, or babysat your kids while she saved money for college.
Her mother, Anne Brannigan-Kelly, a retired special education teacher, grew up in Bethesda on Rosedale Avenue along with her five brothers and sisters and worked at Gifford’s ice cream. Montgomery County is teeming with Ariana’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and close family friends. Ariana’s grandfather, Frank Brannigan, was a champion for firefighter safety who founded the Montgomery College Fire Science program. Ariana’s grandmother, Maurine Brannigan, is a trailblazer who served as a WAVE in the US Navy during WWII.
Arianna’s deep commitment to the Chesapeake Bay is rooted in the summers she spent collecting fossils at her grandparents’ cabin in Scientists Cliffs, MD. Ariana’s father, Richard Kelly, is a retired public servant with the US Department of Agriculture. He and his siblings were raised in nearby Kensington by their parents Doris and Dick. Dick, also a WWII veteran, worked for the IRS. After retirement, he began a second career as a well known full-time volunteer helping the homeless in Montgomery County. Doris is one of the thousands of entrepreneurial women who came to DC to work for the government during the war. You may also know her from her years working on Antique Row in Kensington.
Ariana has two children, Maeve, who attends Wood Acres Elementary School and Leo, who attends Washington Hebrew’s Bindeman Center.