Shelby is an advanced PhD student, Presidential Merit Fellow, and Fulbright recipient at Harvard University studying education and political economy in low- and middle-income countries. She has more than a decade of experience in education and development with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests include: the politics of education, gender, development and humanitarian aid to education, refugee education and education in emergencies, education finance and social spending, and school-to-work transitions with a focus on women and girls.

Shelby is also a senior policy analyst and education expert with the Center for Global Development. She has been a regular consultant with the World Bank and the Education Commission, and is an Associate Member of Cambridge University’s REAL Centre as part of the RISE Ethiopia project. Shelby holds a Masters in Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Masters in Global Policy Studies from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs where her Master's thesis on international aid to the education sector earned distinction for outstanding graduate research. Prior to beginning her doctoral work, Shelby taught in a drop-out recovery high school in Texas, completed a Fulbright teaching grant in Bulgaria, and worked for the World Bank in several locations as part of the Africa Gender Innovation Lab (GIL). She was part of the core team for the Education Commission's 'Learning Generation' report (2016) as well as the World Bank's flagship report on skills in Africa, 'The Skills Balancing Act in sub-Saharan Africa' (2019). 

At Harvard, Shelby teaches a course she designed on international aid to education. She has also been a teaching fellow for courses in applied statistics, microeconomics, education in armed conflict, and education and international development and is a research methods coach at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Her research has been funded by the Fulbright program (Ethiopia), the Harvard Center for African Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, and others. She is currently a Comparative Inequality and Inclusion Fellow at the Weatherhead Center and is a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education REACH Initiative focused on education in situations of migration and forced displacement. 

Shelby is also competitive member of both the Harvard University Figure Skating and Women's Club Ice Hockey teams.