He may be officially retired from his career in business development, but for Steve Kelley, AFCEA International regional vice president for Virginia, retirement hardly means a lifestyle of serene relaxation.
“I retired in June 2011 after a 37-year career in strategic business development, information technology project and program development/management, and sales/marketing of products and services to the Defense Department,” he says, adding that, “more than 30 of those years were spent with Unisys Corporation.” In the last two years, he has been serving as a part-time strategic consultant for Information Security Solutions LLC.
A self-described “Navy brat,” Kelley grew up around the military but has never worn the uniform. “My father was a decorated naval aviator who saw combat action as an F6F pilot in World War II (Pacific Theater) and as an F9F-2 pilot in the Korean War. “I was born at the Naval Air Station Pensacola hospital, oldest of six children,” Kelley says. Like most Navy families, Kelley says his family spent the first 10 years of his life moving approximately every two years. They eventually settled in Hampton Roads, Virginia, upon his father’s retirement.
Kelley is a graduate of Old Dominion University, with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education. He notes that his training and experience as a teacher “taught me that everyone learns something every day, and that the interchange of those pieces of learned information between and among colleagues is critical to both personal and corporate success in the marketplace.”
Asked to expand on his own personal philosophy, he states, “I like people. Everyone has something unique to offer if you just find the time to get involved with them on some level. It always turns out that you seem to get more back when you give to others.” And he believes that his AFCEA work is consistent with all of that. “By exposing me to a much larger professional network than I would have ever been able to develop by myself, I was able to form lasting personal relationships with colleagues across the uniformed military, government civilian and industry spectrums. The doors that my AFCEA involvement opened for me directly translated into personal and corporate financial success.” He’s been an active member of the Tidewater, Hampton Roads, Silicon Bayou, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., chapters of AFCEA.
In retirement, Kelley maintains that his volunteer work keeps him active and engaged. “I still enjoy my 30-year affiliation with the Hampton Roads area and international Defense Department/contractor service organizations.” Along with being an AFCEA regional vice president and associate director on the AFCEA Board of Directors, he recently completed his 13th year of service to the Tidewater Association of Service Contractors and the Tidewater Government Industry Council.
Kelley and his wife, Linda, now reside in Virginia Beach. And how does he spend his “free time” in retirement when he isn’t busy volunteering? “I have been spending a considerable amount of time lately on the beach—I am an avid golfer and surfer. I also enjoy fishing, sailing and both kinds of skiing. My hobby is photography, but my real passion is the time I spend in AFCEA, where I get to witness the next generation of our technical work force receive a helping hand from our chapters’ scholarships and grants. To hand a young STEM student or teacher a scholarship or grant check and see the look of gratitude on their face is a rush! I have also made many lifelong friends through AFCEA, and I treasure those friendships.”