meet kelli

My name is Kelli Dunaway – I’m a coal miner’s daughter and a single mom. and I’m seeking the Democratic nomination for the St. Louis County Council, District 2. This is the story of how I got to where I am today.

Kelli Dunaway is mom to Bella and Liam.

A product of a small rural coal-mining town in Southern Illinois, where she and two younger brothers were raised by a coal-mining single mom, Kelli was left permanently disabled in a car accident as a teenager. She fought tirelessly to overcome the prognosis of paralysis, then go on to graduate high school, then college, and finally to see out her dream of going to law school in California.

She started her career as a bankruptcy lawyer, but switched gears when she discovered a more satisfying career training and coaching lawyers, and designing professional development programs and policies for lawyers. Today she is the Director of Learning & Development at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.

The devastating results of the 2016 presidential election reignited Kelli’s passion for politics, and she raised her hand to run for Congress. Because her campaign for Congress was as extraordinary as it was short-lived, her commitment to a better Missouri continues to burn.

She has advised and supported a number of candidates for local, state and federal office in Missouri. She continues to share her professional talents with the Missouri Democratic Party in “Building Blue”, and hosts the weekly Turn Left Here podcast.

A long time political activist, Kelli got started as a field organizer for President Obama’s primary campaign in 2008, and then volunteered for a number of issue and candidate campaigns in California before being elected a delegate to the California Democratic Party.

Kelli is a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a member of the MDP’s Education & Training Committee, a founding director of the St. Louis Chapter of the New Leaders Council, and a member of the California Bar. Kelli received her J.D. from UCLA and her B.A. in History from Southern Illinois University.

Have questions? I’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at

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