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Mary B. Kelly


Social and Behavioral Sciences Faculty

Programs/Classes Taught:

National Louis Applied Behavioral Science Program: LAS 331 Dynamics of Group Behavior LAP 300 Adult Development and Learning Assessment LAP 340 Effective Interpersonal Relationships LAH 407 Applied Communication in Society LAS 436 Multicultural Dimensions LAS 431 Managerial Behaviors LAH 305 Philosophy of Values and Ethics LAS 406 Leadership in a Changing World LAS 435 Senior Seminar Integrating The Applied Behavioral Sciences.   Triton College: PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology, PSY 201 Introduction to Social Psychology

Areas of Expertise:

  • 25 years of experience, teaching, coaching, training, and managing people of all ages in all areas of aquatics, fitness, wellness and water safety, emergency response and crisis intervention
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Life transition counseling and coaching
  • Spiritual Growth and Reflection – Direction of Spiritual retreats and workshops
  • Courage to Teach "Circles of Trust" group facilitation



I am a lifelong Chicagoan and spent the first 25 years of my work life with the Chicago Park District Lifeguard Service, serving in neighborhoods all across the city and on the beaches along the Chicago lakefront in the field of aquatic safety and recreation. During these years I coached, taught in all areas of aquatics and safety, managed and trained large staffs and was a citywide director. I engaged in water safety public education efforts around the United States and managed a national publication, American Lifeguard, while serving on the Board of Directors of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). Water was my world!

The continuation of my professional journey has included entering the realm of Higher Education, beginning in the areas of recruitment and outreach and evolving to teaching, curriculum development, and a love for adult students. My lifeguard days were centered around the notion of paying attention and protecting life. This idea has continued to weave its thread as my vocational direction has expanded. I have been an Adjunct Instructor for NLU since 2004,and have recently and gratefully joined the Full Time Faculty. As a teacher, I encourage students to pay attention to directions their lives are inviting them to explore.
My path has also led me to studies and work in the area of Spiritual Direction, Clinical Pastoral Education, life transition research and counseling, and devoted work in the facilitation of spiritually based retreats, presentations and workshops. I believe that when we honor our inner stirrings, we perhaps protect and "save" our own lives.

I have recently founded an organization that I call Souldance, which is dedicated to bringing experiences of inter and intra connectedness to communities and workplaces.

Philosophy of Teaching:

As a teacher I look upon classmates and classrooms as microcosms of our communities and of the world. It is my desire to encourage students to delve more deeply into themselves and towards recognizing their connection to the greater universal whole.
I believe that education is about so much more than learning facts and skills. Education results from practices that open minds and spirits to ideas that may not yet have been considered. Every course, every subject can be an opportunity to make something happen between people.
I believe that a good teacher both respects and challenges the use of every student’s unique intelligence. A good teacher vigorously prepares by knowing what is going on in the world and by utilizing it all, bringing in arts and media when appropriate to enliven the minds and hearts of the students and to engage them in the subject. Students are not objects of education – they are the subjects. I believe that a teacher does not do anything for students, but works with them – on their behalf.
I feel so strongly that it is never too late for learning and for personal growth; and I believe that every person who has the desire to learn and to change can do so when given the opportunity. I have been influenced by many educators as my own experience as a teacher has evolved and grown. I have been most moved by the work of Parker Palmer and his notion that as teachers we need to “weave a web of connectedness” with our students – to connect ourselves and our subjects with our students. I embrace Palmer’s contention that we need to engage our students’ souls. I agree with him that the only way I can do this as a teacher is to be actively involved in continually knowing myself – and then to show up for my students – not to be there just presenting subject matter and performing for them, but to really be there with them in learning and exploring, helping them to see the wisdom within themselves.
I know from personal and teaching experiences and observations that fear is often what keeps students from believing that they can learn. The most common of these are fear of failing, of not understanding, of being exposed or having their ideas challenged in some ways. I have learned, and continually remind myself, to keep my own fears and vulnerabilities at hand so that I am not separated from my students, and so that I might help them reach deeper personal understanding of the subject matter as it relates to themselves and the world.


Loyola University
Graduate Certificate – Spiritual Direction
Doctoral studies in Spirituality - in progress

National Louis University
MA Psychology Graduate Certificates,Organizational Psychology, Career Assessment

National Louis University BA - Applied Behavioral Science
Harold Washington College – Substance Abuse Counseling Certification
DePaul University –Communications/Spanish

Selected Recent Continuing Education:
2011: Parker Palmer’s Center for Courage and Renewal training workshops for Retreats and Circles of Trust facilitation for groups – including educators.
2013 – present: Continued studies and certification in The Daring Way™ ,an experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, which explore topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, the understanding of which is vital elements to our work as teachers, parents, community and organization leaders and members, and individuals.
2012 – present - Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC), Albuquerque, New Mexico. Semi-annual CONSPIRE conferences and workshops
2011-present: Spiritual Directors International (SDI), Emerging Wisdom Annual Conference

Research and Interests:

My research interests include the continued inquiry into spiritual practices employed to navigate the experience of life transition. I continue to serve on the Board of Directors for the United States Lifesaving Association. I am active in Restorative Justice work in Chicago. I compete in Triathlons and sing with a choir!

Contact Information:

Mary Kelly

Faculty  - Applied Behavioral Science

Phone & Fax: 312-261-3874


National Louis University - 122 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Il 60603


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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