Kelly Lester is a Policy Analyst at John Locke’s Center for Food, Power, and Life. She primarily researches agriculture for the center, ensuring North Carolinians have access to affordable foods and that government regulations do not impede the agricultural economy. A self-proclaimed bleeding-heart libertarian, Kelly believes that the government has long done things to prevent people from scaling the income ladder. As an analyst at Locke, her goal is to look out for the average consumer and shed light on how deregulation could benefit their lives.

Before joining Locke, Kelly was a research associate at the Cato Institute, focusing on poverty and welfare. While at Cato, Kelly worked on Cato’s Project on Poverty & Inequality in California, a multi-year project evaluating how California’s regulations have kept its citizens impoverished. In addition, Kelly has researched educational freedom, childcare regulations, occupational licensing, police reform, and social security. She has published at the state and national levels in various news outlets.

Kelly received her BA from Pace University NYC, where she majored in economics and minored in statistics. In college, she presented her original economic research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Pace Society of Fellows.