Kelly Girtz lived as a child in Norfolk, VA, the son of Joanne Kirsch Claridge (now of College Station, Texas) and Commander Darryl Girtz (U.S. Navy, retired) of Norfolk, Virginia. He graduated from Lake Taylor High School. During high school and afterward, he worked in a variety of positions - in newspaper delivery, record and bookstore retail, pizza delivery, table serving, room service and carpentry. As an undergraduate, he attended Tidewater Community College, then Old Dominion University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. He later earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Piedmont College, and completed a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership at the University of Georgia.
He began his career in education at W.R. Coile Middle School, where he taught Language Arts and Georgia Studies for five years. When Classic City High School opened in 2003 to support students needing a small, personalized setting, he was among the inaugural teachers on staff. After teaching American Government and Economics there for seven years, he became principal, a position he held for four years. He served from 2015-2018 as Regional Director for Student Services for Foothills Education Charter High School, a public evening high school supporting nearly 2000 students at 15 locations in Northeast Georgia, including at three state prisons. He provided training and support to Counselors, Social Workers, Mentors, and related staff at each site, and assists with progress monitoring and supervision. He first ran for office while he was teaching, and after serving as a County Commissioner in Athens-Clarke County for the last 12 years, he was elected Mayor of Athens-Clarke in 2018, and assumed office January 8, 2019.
In his free time, Kelly enjoys gardening, carpentry, cooking, reading, listening to music, and the warmth, kindness, and camaraderie found living in Athens.
Kelly is married to Andrea Griffith Girtz, and they have a son Noah (six years old – where does the time go?). The family resides in Athens Georgia.