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Spring 2020: A Voyage of Discovery
Senior Lecturer

Kelly Virginia Phelan

University of Queensland

A super-fan of ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ as a child, Kelly jumped at the opportunity to take her first trip abroad to Russia during high school as an exchange student.  Since then travel has been her passion. Kelly is an American by birth and a permanent resident of Australia but describes herself as a citizen of the world. She has lived in five different countries and traveled to more than fifty nations.

Prior to entering academia, Kelly worked for the U.S. Lacrosse Foundation, the Walt Disney Corporation in Florida, Caesar’s Entertainment and Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas.  She holds a Ph.D. in Hospitality & Tourism Management from Purdue University, a M.S. in Hospitality Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a B.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University.

Currently, Kelly is a Senior Lecturer and Leader of the Bachelors of International Hotel and Tourism Management program in the School of Business at The University of Queensland. She teaches both Hospitality and Tourism undergraduate classes and conducts research related to marketing and tourism development initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kelly was formerly the Associate Department Chair at Texas Tech University and in 2013-2014 she served as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of Botswana. She spoke about her experiences teaching and working throughout Africa in her TED Talk: ‘Want to help Africa? Travel there!’ (

In her free time, aside from traveling, Kelly enjoys aerial yoga, rock climbing, kayaking, learning languages (she is currently studying her fifth), reading, and spending time with her family.