Palm Beach Beauty: Carolyn Kelly

Photography by Robert Nelson 

Shot on location at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Manalapan


Carolyn Kelly

Occupation: First Lady, Florida Atlantic University

Beauty factor: Environmental and natural resources expert, influencer, philanthropist, university advocate

Carolyn Kelly - Florida Atlantic University's First Lady - Palm Beach Beauty

Escada jumpsuit, BCBG Max Azria feather jacket, Sergio Rossi sandals, Saks Fifth Avenue, Town Center at Boca Raton

Philanthropic endeavors: In 2014, we established the Kelly Family Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for FAU students. I’m also involved with the American Association of Caregiving Youth. Helping these kids, who have to be the primary caregivers for their families, is very important.

Proudest achievement: When I was in high school, my mother was terminally ill and I became her caregiver. It was too much for my dad, mentally and physically. I loved my mother, so there was no choice. I just did it.

Her definition of “beauty”: My mother’s courage and strength. She always had a wonderful attitude, no matter what she was going through. She was always positive. That is true beauty.

Biggest adventure: I went whitewater rafting in class 4 rapids. It was pretty intense.

Signature cocktail: The Owl-tini, made with Grey Goose vodka. Our school mascot is an owl, and we created it to serve at all our events.

Spring essential: My white silk suit and a big hat

Favorite road trip: Hilton Head, South Carolina. You can ride your bike everywhere there—to the grocery store, to the movies … It’s so quiet and peaceful.

Palm Beach haunt: The Colony Hotel. Its quaintness reminds us of Charleston.

Toughest trial: A year ago, my doctor found a mass in my neck. The type of thyroid cancer I had was treatable, but getting my energy level back to where it was has been a challenge. I had taken my health for granted until then.

Favorite keepsake: When my oldest daughter was 7, she made a life-size rendering of herself using finger paint in all these abstract colors. It is really the essence of who she was at the time and is hanging prominently in our kitchen.

Next adventure: Our FAU Gala on April 2. All the proceeds go toward scholarships for students. I’m also working on a new book, Legacymakers: 100 Women of Distinction at Florida Atlantic University, about the women who have shaped this university. It’s taken a lot of work, but I’m very excited about it.


Hair: Gregory Ash Yomontano, Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach

Makeup: Deborah Koepper using Deborah Koepper Cosmetics, Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach

Palm Beach Illustrated thanks the management and staff of Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa for their gracious hospitality.

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