Kelly Craighead is the CEO of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and former president of Democracy Alliance, a major donor clearinghouse for Democratic and left-wing donors and advocacy organizations. Craighead started her political career in the Clinton White House and is reportedly a close associate and friend of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton White House
There is little information available about Kelly Craighead’s early career, but she briefly worked as a sales manager.  In 1993, she began working in the Clinton administration as an aide to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton (D). In 2000, Craighead worked on Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign and raised $500,000 for the campaign before becoming embroiled in a campaign finance scandal.  Campaign financial director David Rosen was accused of hiding $800,000 in fundraising costs to artificially boost the appearance Clinton’s fundraising numbers; federal authorities further alleged that Craighead was aware of the financial misconduct and did not act to stop it. Rosen was indicted but not convicted; while Craighead was listed as a witness, she did not testify and faced no charges. 
Craighead has been described as a “good friend” of Hillary Clinton.  Bill and Hillary Clinton presided over Craighead’s marriage to Erik Mullen, a Democratic consultant and former aide to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The couple celebrated their engagement in the White House.  
After the Clintons left the White House, Craighead initially worked as a consultant to lobbyists in Washington D.C.,  and then made a name for herself as a Democratic fundraiser. In 2004, Craighead worked as a fundraiser for the newly-formed Media Matters for America, a left-of-center media watchdog, and successfully established a financial base of $60 million.  
From 2006-2013, Craighead led Democracy Alliance.  Craighead was noted to orient the organization around partisan Democratic politics over left-leaning ideological goals. Controversially, Craighead led the integration of Democratic Super PACs into the Democracy Alliance, which critics within the organization believed betrayed the group’s grassroots image.  Craighead was described as having “extensive ties to the  Obama campaign,”  and raised almost $500,000 for it. 
Soon after taking over Democracy Alliance, the group arranged $6 million in contributions to Media Matters, Craighead’s former employer. 
According to the Huffington Post, Craighead’s successor at Democracy Alliance, Gara LaMarche, was chosen to indicate to donors an organizational shift back to prioritizing ideological goals over political goals.  Politico described the departure of Craighead as the final untethering of Democracy Alliance from Hillary Clinton, as the organization consolidated around President Barack Obama (D). 
At some point, Craighead founded Vertimas Consulting, a consulting firm for international tourism companies. 
From 2014-2017, Craighead worked as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism and Executive Director of the National Travel and Tourism Office in the Obama administration.  She has described the position as “de facto tourism minister of the United States.  Craighead allegedly led initiatives that generated $250 billion in tourism revenue for the United States. 
In 2019, Craighead became CEO of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), a trade association for cruise lines.  In March 2020, Craighead announced the industry’s “unprecedented” decision to suspend all cruise sailings for thirty days in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
In July 2020, Craighead became a board member of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency. 
Craighead is vice chairman and executive director of the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation (CICF).