Meet Brenden

I'm Brenden Kelley and I want to earn your trust.

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"I’m a lawyer, an advocate, a brother and a son, and a former Cleveland Indians bat boy. Born and raised in northeast Ohio, and working now as an attorney, I have the opportunity to understand Ohioans and the struggles our families face every day."- Brenden Kelley

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

SERVICE

  • President of the Alumni Association, Gilmour Academy

  • Chairman of the Board, Alpha Tau Omega – Alpha Pi Chapter Foundation

  • Member of the Board of Visitors, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

  • Member of the Alumni Executive Council, Washington & Jefferson College


MEMBERSHIPS

  • American Association for Justice

  • American Bar Association

  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

  • Geauga County Bar Association

  • Lake County Bar Association

  • National Lawyers Guild

  • Ohio Association for Justice

  • Ohio State Bar Association


COMMITTEES

  • Ethics & Professionalism, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

  • Mental Health & Wellness, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

  • Executive Committee, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Board of Visitors

  • Grievance Committee, Geauga County Bar Association

  • Volunteer Lawyers Program, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland


EDUCATION

  • Cleveland Marshall College of Law, J.D., 2015

  • Washington & Jefferson College, B.A., 2012


AWARDS

  • Cleveland Foundation – Foundations for Philanthropy 2021

  • Ohio State Bar Association – Leadership Academy, 2020

  • Crain’s Cleveland Business – Twenty in Their 20s, 2020

  • Premier Lawyers of America – Excellence in Complex Litigation, 2019-2020

  • Association of American Trial Layers – Top 40 under 40 in Business Law, 2018

  • Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity Life Loyal Tau Award, 2018

While my job title is "attorney," my real job is to show up every day and help people.



Who I am is a direct result of the people, places, and organizations that raised me.

BRENDEN'S STORY

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The best way I can introduce you to my leadership style is to introduce you to my family.

I’ve won awards for my achievements in complex litigation and business law, and I was named to Crain’s Twenty in their 20’s in 2020. I have focused on ethics and professionalism in the Northeast Ohio legal community, and been invited to join the 2021 Cleveland Foundation’s Foundations of Philanthropy program. But none of these resume bullet points tell you who I am, how I got here, or how I will behave in office.

Our story is like so many others in Ohio. My grandparents were not born into privilege. Louie & Francka Arko did not have a high school diploma between them. They worked tirelessly running a neighborhood tavern on 40th & St. Clair serving beer, cooking soup, and cashing third shift checks so that my mom could go to college. Ed and Pat Kelley prioritized education for their children too, and while they could not afford to send my dad to school on a Cleveland firefighter’s salary, they supported him taking a milk route as a teenager so he could attend St. Ignatius and save for college.

Making the most of the opportunities my grandparents created, my parents pushed themselves to even higher achievements, attending law school at night, working during the day to pay for tuition. When they became lawyers and built extraordinary careers, they never forgot where they came from. From my father’s career representing Ohio steelworkers dying from cancer due to corporate greed, to my mother’s pride in fighting for children as guardian ad litem and protecting them from the bench as Municipal Court Judge, they dedicated their careers to serving those who could not achieve justice on their own.

My achievements rest on all of the hard work of family members before me. My older brother, Chris, and I were born into a vastly different situation, but my parents made sure that we understood how fortunate we were and the value of our education. Moreover, my parents made sure we understood that serving others is the highest calling. As soon as we could read the news, Chris and I were encouraged to voice our opinions around the dinner table, jockeying with my parents’ ideas and learning how to argue, stand strong, and most importantly see each other’s point of view. Discussing politics with two lawyers who were from opposing political parties was not easy, but it showed me how important listening and compromise are, in every circumstance.

I first witnessed the harsh realities of the healthcare and health insurance systems when I was 14 years old. My brother Chris sustained a traumatic brain injury from a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. Despite all of the advantages my family had, we were no match for the insurance companies. We were forced to fight every step of the way to get the care my brother needed and deserved. To provide Chris with the quality of life he deserved, my parents paid upwards of $20,000 a month in out-of-pocket medical expenses. Fortunately, my father’s legal practice allowed us to meet this heavy financial burden and my mother gave up her career to care for Chris full time.

When I was 16 years old, another tragedy struck my family when my dad died from a heart attack. Without my father, my mom struggled to meet the ever-growing financial burden of medical bills, legal fees, and taxes. From the outside it looked like we could weather the storm, but it was by the sheer will and determination of my mother that we got through those years. She leveraged everything to make sure that Chris was taken care of. I followed my mom’s lead and did what I could to help. When we were struggling to pay for full time nursing at night, I moved into my brother’s bedroom and became his nurse. When we were struggling to find the money to keep us afloat, I sold the savings bonds that my father left me for college. When my mom tried to refuse my help, I reminded her of an Arko motto: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” Through hard work and good luck, we were able to give Chris the best care while he was still with us.

Brenden and mentor Bill Wuliger at a Browns game.

The challenges of my early life created the man I am today. As my mentor always said, “steel is forged in fire.” I have seen some of the worst moments in my personal life turned into unbelievable gifts. The loss of my father resulted in a deep connection with my mentor; watching my mother struggle to keep our family together showed me the true meaning of love and sacrifice; late nights with my brother created a bond and friendship I always yearned for as that “annoying” little brother; all of it gives me the strength and compassion to connect and care for others.

IT'S TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE.
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I’m running for Congress because our big challenges require big solutions. They require us to seek out big ideas, to build new partnerships, and to love our neighbor no matter what. Each of us should be able to pursue financial health, safety, and opportunity for our families and children.

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I witness the American dream in my family every day, and I believe that dream should be accessible to all families across the state of Ohio. That’s why I’m asking for your help today and your vote next November.