Kelly, who was Melia's director of global sales, meetings and events, will report to CI Events general manager of UK and Europe Lisa Pobjoy, who was recently promoted from director of sales and account management.
Kelly's chief responsibilities include developing and implementing a new business strategy and retaining clients, overseeing a team of six.
He said: "CI Events specialises in the manufacturing, retail and automotive sectors - I'll be looking at broadening its client base." He claimed that his experience working on the supplier-hotel side of the events business would prove useful for his role at CI Events.
Kelly's last agency role was as marketing manager of Zibrant. C&IT broke the news of his departure to Melia in January 2010.