Kerrie was born in Alberta and grew up on Vancouver Island, where as a teenager she co-founded the Nanaimo chapter of Free The Children. She led conferences on sustainable development after spending one month in Nepal trekking to rural projects with Trans-Himalayan Aid Society.
At the University of British Columbia, Kerrie Thornhill studied international relations with a focus on human security and gender and development. In 2003, she travelled to Africa for the first time, studying microfinance and women's entrepreneurship in Benin, and sharing the findings at various events and conferences. She also volunteered for the Red Cross Committee on International Humanitarian Law, chaired the UBC branch of World University Service of Canada, and facilitated a student-directed seminar on development issues in Africa.
After graduating, Kerrie worked as a gender advocacy advisor for the Ministry of Education in Bawku, Ghana. Upon returning to Canada, she trained in frontline anti-rape advocacy and crisis support and information, volunteering in Vancouver and Calgary. From 2007-2008 she worked with the non-profit Calgary Immigrant Women's Association. As a side project, she developed her cartooning skills and self-published an awareness-raising comic book on gender violence and war entitled Rainbow Girl.
With the generous support of the Oxford University Clarendon Scholarship, she read for the MPhil in development studies at the Oxford Department of International Development, 2008-2010. While researching post-conflict gender-based violence in Liberia, she was privileged to live and work with a community-based organization called Healthy Communities Brighter Futures.
Before starting her DPhil in geography and the environment at Oxford, Kerrie volunteered as a consultant for Oxfam Great Britain and supervised a research team in urban Ghana with Oxford's Centre for the Study of African Economies. Back at Oxford, she was a junior dean for Hertford College, a junior affiliate member of International Gender Studies, and the coordinator of a new academic networking initiative, Oxford Gender Hub.
Kerrie is an assistant professor in gender violence in the department of Global Heath and Development, within the Faculty of Public Health and Policy of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In her spare time, Kerrie enjoys long-distance running and hiking, the highlights of which include a solo trek of the West Coast Trail (2011), the Juan de Fuca Trail (2005), and various half-marathons.