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Meet Kathy

“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.” – Marian Wright Edelman

My Journey

Since our family moved to Billings in 1978, I have been actively involved in the community, serving 15 years on the Billings School Board and participating in United Way, the Billings Strategic Plan, the All-America Cities Award Committee, Billings Clinic Foundation, St. John’s Lutheran Ministries Governance Board, and Family Promise. I have learned so much from being involved in these community-building activities! My personal focus has been on the welfare of children and families. My own family has enjoyed the economic, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities that Billings affords, and these experiences have made me believe we have something precious in Montana that deserves to be preserved and sustained.

My Foundation

Growing Up

I grew up in the small Ohio town of Chagrin Falls (population 3,500). My father had a printing/advertising business located right on the main street next to the actual Chagrin Falls, and my mother taught high school English, French and Home Economics. Both of my parents were very active in the community and our church, and they modeled that commitment for us three children. As a first grader, I contracted polio. This event deeply affected me; I saw other children suffering in the rehabilitation hospital and knew that some of them died. I was grateful that my case of polio was a lighter one, but having polio made me a serious child—well aware that life brought both joy and pain.

Education and Work

I always wanted to grow up to be a teacher. After high school, I attended Hiram College, a small liberal arts school. I graduated with a degree in English and taught high school and college English. As my husband completed his medical training in several places, I had various teaching positions ranging from preschool and kindergarten to fourth grade science, Upward Bound and college English. While teaching at these different levels, I became interested in special education and earned a Master’s Degree in special education. With that degree, With the new degree, I became a Resource Teacher and then a traveling Special Education Consultant Teacher. In 1985 I founded a non-profit called Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (PLUK). Its purpose was to provide information and support for children with disabilities and their families. I was its Executive Director for 16 years. Then, I earned my doctorate in Adult and Higher Education (Special Education Concentration) and went back into teaching as an Assistant Professor of Special Education at MSU-Billings. After retiring from the university, I got the best job I ever had as the Executive Director of Head Start, Inc. At Head Start I saw what a huge difference high quality early education makes in the lives of preschoolers and their families. I retired from Head Start in May 2014, but continued to be involved in community organizations and volunteer work.

My Family

kathy kelker family
kathy kelker for SD24

My husband Paul and I have been married for 55 years. He retired forty years of practicing general pediatrics and pediatric hematology-oncology (treatment of blood disorders and cancer) at the Billings Clinic. We have four adult children—Stephen, Matthew, Christopher and Sara and seven grandchildren—Marissa, Ellie, Cody, Iris, Zoe, Ivy Rose and Julian.

I have been fortunate to be elected to represent HD 47 in three legislative session—2014, 2016, and 2018. I have loved my opportunity to serve. At first it was overwhelming—there was so much to learn! But I got into the swing of things and became fascinated by the issues before us. In the 66th Session, I served on the Judiciary and Human Services Committees. I carried 14 bills related to gifted education, healthcare, and human services. “

HB92 was signed by the Governor in May, 2021.

For more detailed information, visit my legislator page on leg.mt.gov

Why Am I Running Again?

I am running again to be a positive voice in Montana’s Senate. Montana is growing and its economy is changing. Now is the time for legislators to embrace change. As I look forward to the next legislative session, I am motivated to focus on issues that support the middle-class lifestyle. The key ingredients of this lifestyle are having good-paying jobs, owning a home, being able to save for retirement, providing education for children, having health security (insurance), and enjoying Montana’s outdoor opportunities. Focusing on these foundational areas demands innovation and new thinking at the legislature, and I want to be part of that.

  • Working families needs (e.g. childcare)
  • Quality public education
  • Small businesses; private enterprise
  • Infrastructure updates
  • Public safety
  • Public access to public lands

What Are My Values?

  • Equal opportunity for all citizens
  • The right of people to express their opinions and beliefs and advocate for their positions
  • Protection for the environment and Montana’s outdoor life style
  • A balanced approach to clean, abundant, and reliable energy, including renewable energy
  • Using technology to create new jobs and remain competitive in a global economy
  • Making quality health care affordable and available and protecting privacy in health care choices