Kenneth Kelly

Bank Chairman and CEO, Minority Banking Leader, Community Servant, Author, Speaker

About Kenneth Kelly

Kenneth Kelly serves as Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank (, a minority depository institution based in Detroit, Michigan. He is a respected leader in the banking community.  Kelly serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bankers Association, is the voice of the nation’s $20.3 trillion banking industry. The American Bankers Association is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $15.8 trillion in deposits and extend nearly $11 trillion in loans. He served as chairman of the National Bankers Association 2018-2020. From 2018-2020, Kelly served on the Federal Reserve of Chicago Bank Seventh District Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council (CDIAC).

Kelly was also selected to become a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman’s Advisory Committee on Community Banking which is charged with providing advice and recommendations to the FDIC on a broad range of community banking policy and regulatory matters. He has testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Congressional House Financial Services subcommittee and has provided input to the full committee of House Financial Services during its COVID19 listening session.  Additionally, Kelly provided input and advice to the Secretary of Treasury and White House Staff during COVID19 on the state of minority banks. He also was a driver of solutions to support minority businesses with many corporate entities, regulators, and executive branch administrators regarding economic equality.

Kelly serves as the chairperson of the Auburn University Engineering Alumni Council. In this role, he works with a successful group of alumni including many CEOs to assist the dean of the college with research and development, fundraising, and academic achievement. In 2019, the dedication of the new Brown Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center included the naming of the Kenneth Kelly Engineering Academic Excellence Program Reception Area. Kelly will be Auburn’s Commencement Speaker in April 2021.

Prior to banking, Kelly enjoyed a 27-year career as an electric utility business leader in numerous roles within Southern Company. His last role entailed negotiating acquisitions of large renewable solar projects valued at $3.4 billion in partnership value. In 2018, Kelly was inducted as the 137th Distinguished Auburn Engineer. In February 2020 he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. In October 2020, Kelly served as a speaker during the 2020 Milken Global Institute Forum. The NYSE honored Kelly through the ringing of the opening bell on Dec. 14, 2020 as chairman of Grow Michigan II, a fund to support the growth and expansion of small business in Michigan. Kelly is the author of Prepared Before I Let Go, to be published soon and a producer of a documentary “Economics, Politics, & Culture.”

Kelly grew up in Eufaula, Alabama, received an electrical engineering degree from Auburn University and completed the executive MBA program at the University of Alabama.

Notable Information About Kenneth Kelly

“When we began to explore how to address diversity equity and inclusion, Kenneth Kelly was the first person I called.  His advice to me was, ‘you can learn and work to make a difference or you can check a box.’  All of our efforts have been based on this guidance…to learn, grow to make a positive difference, not to check a box.”
- T. Rann Paynter
President and Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Bankers Association