Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated
Raina Kelley is Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated, ESPN’s multimedia content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. She is responsible for the editorial direction, policies, oversight and strategy for projects undertaken by The Undefeated. Kelley assumed this role in May 2021, after serving as The Undefeated’s managing editor for five years. She succeeded Kevin Merida, who launched the project in May 2016.
As managing editor, Kelley was instrumental in The Undefeated’s growth and helped steer its content expansion across The Walt Disney Company units, including the “Music For The Movement” series, a collaboration with Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records, The Undefeated Presents: Hamilton In-Depth with Kelley Carter on Disney+, and other partnerships. She leads ESPN’s Black History Always, a companywide content initiative powered by The Undefeated that highlights the contributions of African Americans through long- and short-form storytelling across media platforms beyond the traditional 28-day Black history month in February.
Kelley’s leadership helped The Undefeated earn awards and commendations for its work, including citations by the Associated Press Sports Editors and several NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards for exemplary coverage of African American people and issues.
Before joining The Undefeated, Kelley served as deputy editor at ESPN The Magazine. She was a leading driver of ESPN’s long-form journalism across different platforms (print, digital and audio-visual) and worked closely with some of the company’s leading storytellers.
Kelley joined ESPN in May 2011 as a senior editor at ESPN The Magazine, responsible for the publication’s coverage of the National Football League, tennis, action sports, the Olympics and ESPN Enterprise Unit. She was a senior editorial leadership team member responsible for successfully merging ESPN’s print and digital content units under one umbrella.
Before ESPN, Kelley was a writer for Newsweek magazine. She penned a column on American culture, usually on race, gender, and politics for the magazine, Newsweek.com, and Newsweek/Daily Beast. Kelley joined Newsweek in 2003 as an associate editor and left as a staff writer in 2011. While at Newsweek, she appeared on numerous television programs to discuss her cultural criticism, including the Charlie Rose Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN’s American Morning.
The 2008 Presidential campaign and eventual election of America’s first African American President offered Kelley a unique opportunity to delve into thought-provoking commentary and experiential writing about race in America. At Newsweek, she won several NY NABJ awards for her work on race and culture and was a 2010 Newswomen’s Club of NY Front Page Award winner for her contribution to a Newsweek.com package entitled “The Beauty Advantage.”
A 1992 graduate of theater arts from Yale University, Kelley started her professional career as a staff member at the Aboutface Theater Company (AFTC).