Kelley has been honored by her peers with such awards as the Outstanding Author Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors for her "courageous writing on popular culture," the Phillip M. Stern Award for her "Outstanding service to writers and the writing profession," and the Medal of Merit from the Lotos Club of New York City. She was also named one of the most influential people in private Washington by Regardie's magazine in an article entitled "The Power Elite" and was selected by Vanity Fair magazine for its Hall of Fame as part of the "Media Decade."
In 1993, Brandeis University National Women's committee established a major book collection at the university in her honor. That same year, she was invited to debate at Oxford University; the premise: "This House Believes That Men Are Still More Equal Than Women." She led her team to a 143-78 victory. In 1998, she spoke to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The subject: "Public Figures: Are Their Private Lives Fair Game for the Press?" In 1999, the University of Washington named Kitty Kelley as one of 100 of "The Most Famous, Fascinating and Influential Alumni of the Past 100 Years." The Georgetowner newspaper named her one of the 20 "Georgetowners of the Century."
Following four years as a press assistant to a U.S. Senator, Kelley worked for two years as the editorial page researcher for The Washington Post. Since then, she has had a full-time career as a freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.