Cara Kelly is an investigative reporter, educator and media specialist with more than a decade of experience at some of the world’s most visible and widely distributed news organizations.
Cara spent nearly five years on the national investigations team at USA Today, where she published more than a dozen front-page articles exposing institutional sexual abuse and harassment. Her investigation revealing a pipeline from fraudulent massage schools to the illicit sex trade and human trafficking sparked an investigation by the Department of Education in 2021. And in 2019, Uber vowed to stop giving sexual assault victims’ personal information to third-party claims companies, changing its policy to instead provide a resource hotline staffed by RAINN.
Cara is one of the top journalists covering Boy Scouts of America’s child sexual abuse case. Her work began with a scoop in 2019 on what was then the largest-ever lawsuit against Scouts with hundreds of victims. Her stories have been read more than a million times and have inspired an outpouring of support from survivors praising her dedicated reporting.
She joined USA TODAY’s investigations team in 2018 after serving as entertainment editor for the paper at the height of the Me Too movement. In that role, she led an ambitious project surveying behind-the-camera workers to reveal the extent of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. The result – that 94% of respondents had experienced some type of misconduct – made headlines in dozens of major media outlets including CBS This Morning, CNBC and the Guardian. An article she edited detailing every credible allegation against Harvey Weinstein has been widely cited in texts documenting the historic moment, including “She Said” and “Nobody’s Victim.”
Cara was previously a digital editor at The Washington Post, and was an inaugural member of the Emerging News Products team after Jeff Bezos bought the paper in 2013. Her work has been published in hundreds of newspapers across the country including the Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star and Cincinnati Enquirer.
Cara is an adjunct professor at American University’s School of Communications where she teaches classes on reporting and writing for communication. She also serves as a mentor-editor with Youthcast Media Group, a nonprofit that trains high school students from under-resourced communities to create solutions journalism around health and social disparities.
Cara has a masters in journalism from American University and bachelors degrees in communications and political science from Appalachian State University.
She lives in Washington, D.C.