Dame Bernadette Kelly

Permanent Secretary at Department for Transport (DfT)

Permanent Secretary, Department for Transport
Policy Leaders Fellowship alumna, Centre for Science and Policy

Dame Bernadette Kelly DCB became Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport in 2017.

Bernadette studied English Language and Literature at Hull University, graduating in 1985. She joined the Civil Service in 1986 and has spent most of her career working on public policy in relation to business and the economy. During her career she has led work in government to reform the planning regime; establish the Competition and Markets Authority; reform corporate governance, including increasing the representation of women on company boards; and on industrial strategy and local growth.

Prior to joining the DfT she worked in BEIS, the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury and the No. 10 Policy Unit. Since joining DfT in 2015 Bernadette has led work in Government on some of the largest and most iconic projects in the UK including the Elizabeth Line and High Speed 2, overseen the transport sector’s response to Brexit and Covid, and is now focused on three key priorities: ensuring transport works for the public; supporting growth and levelling up; and reducing carbon emissions and the wider environmental impacts of transport.

During her career Bernadette has pioneered work to increase diversity and inclusion in the Civil Service. She is passionate about social mobility, for which she has been Civil Service champion since 2018. As a Trustee of the Whitehall and Industry group, she is an advocate for closer collaboration and understanding between business, government and the not-for-profit sectors, for the greater good.

Bernadette was awarded a Damehood (DCB) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2022 for services to Government. Prior to that, Bernadette was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2010.