Kelley Therese Anderson, 26, lost her fierce battle with Bi-polar disorder and alcohol addiction on July 30, 2017, but she did not leave before making an extraordinary impact on her community and beyond.
During her junior year in high school, Kelley joined Amigos International where she spent nearly a year of her after-school time training to lead community projects in Latin America. In the summer before her senior year, she put her training to practice in a small Mexican community for a month, working with a local doctor and providing training to Mexican youth in sustainable living.
While earning her bachelor’s degree at CU, Kelley was accepted into the INVST Community Leadership Program, where she worked for two years with a cohort of students focused on addressing societal problems concerning social and environmental justice. Kelley passionately grappled with integrating theory, research, and practice in civic engagement work, as she engaged in courses, an internship, and a community-based project. She traveled throughout the US Southwest studying environmental sustainability, and the US/Mexico border and Nicaragua.
After college Kelley spent 4 months in Chiapas, Mexico where she engaged with the practice, theory, and context of the Zapatista movement through the Mexico Solidarity Network. She honed her Spanish language skills as she worked with social actors on front-line struggles in Mexico. She also planted herself as an American witness to shield indigenous residents and then volunteered for a month to provide food and shelter at a run-down converted Jesuit church for South American refugees fleeing inhumane conditions in their native lands. Coming home covered in bug bites and describing grim living conditions in the refugee camp, she said she probably wouldn’t go back again – not because of the living condition but because she did not see a way to provide long-term improvements in the lives of the refugees.
Back in Boulder, Kelley was deeply committed to justice. She mentored many young people and supported them in amplifying their voices and assembling resources to fight for a better world. She worked with the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN), Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), Youth Global Leaders (YGL) and other organizations to do this work. Kelley read with vigor and passion the works social justice scholars, asking questions about how to open spaces to be more inclusive and anti-oppressive.
There are many people who thought of Kelley as one of their closest friends; Kelley connected with others so deeply in her communities, including LGBT communities, sober communities, SPAN, Espressoria, Youth Global Leadership, the Chrysalis Housing Co-op, and INVST. She lit up these spaces and more with her passion, energy, wit, humor, and care. She had the unique ability to make people feel comfortable in their own skin.
And she loved her dog Marla Dean, a Manchester Terrier, adopted from the Humane Society. They spent many happy moments together hiking and camping in the mountains they both cherished. Kelley wasn’t conventional. Some saw her as too edgy, but those who knew her LOVED her fierceness and her commitment to fight for right. She struggled deeply with mental health and addiction for several years, yet continued to be a positive force for others. She will be missed by so many, and the impact of both her relationships and her work will continue to be felt.
Kelley leaves behind, her “Papa” Gary Anderson and “Ma” Lola Beverly Nelson, her sister Adrienne Davenport, brother-in-law Matthew Davenport, nephew and niece Jonathan and Cali, Marla Dean and many friends, extended family and coworkers who will all struggle forward in her absence.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to SPAN (Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence) in Boulder (http://www.safehousealliance.org/).