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Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

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Kelly, Robin L. (1956– )

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Democrat Congresswoman Robin Kelly represents Illinois’s 2nd District, which includes Kankakee County and parts of Cook and Will Counties. It includes Chicago’s south suburbs and Southeast Side. Kelly was first elected on April 9, 2013, when the state of Illinois held a special election to fill the vacancy left by Democratic Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s resignation. Kelly won re-election in 2014 and 2016.

Born in New York City, New York, on April 30, 1956, Robin Lynne Kelly is the daughter of a grocer and postal worker. She attended Rhodes Prep High School (NY) where she graduated in 1973. Kelly continued her education at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1977 and master’s in counseling in 1982. She was awarded her Ph.D. in political science in 2004 from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

Prior to becoming a member of Congress, Kelly was a counselor and community affairs director in Matteson, Illinois, from 1992 to 2006. She joined the Illinois State House of Representatives in 2003 and was chief of staff for Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois State treasurer from 2007–2010. In this position, she was the first African American woman to serve as chief of staff to an elected constitutional statewide officeholder. From 2010 to 2012, Kelly was the Cook County chief administrative officer. She became congresswoman in 2013.

During the 113th Congress (2013–2014), Kelly served on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology and on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. During the 114th Congress (2015–2016), she remained on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee where she was ranking member on the Subcommittee on Information Technology and member of the National Security Subcommittee. Kelly also joined the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. At the start of the 115th Congress (2017–2018), Kelly is again a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Congresswoman Kelly is the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust chair, and Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls co-chair. The Congresswoman is also co-chair for the House Democratic Budget Group and Congressional Diversifying Technology Caucus. She is a Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce co-chair, and wrote the 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first congressional analysis of the American gun violence epidemic.

Congresswoman Kelly and her husband, Dr. Nathaniel Horn, married in 2003 and live in Matteson, Illinois. She has two grown children and two stepchildren. Her non-political interests include travel, nonfiction, crossword puzzles, and sports.

“Congresswoman Robin Kelly,”; Congresswoman Robin Kelly,”; Katherine Skiba, “Robin Kelly hopes to change legacy of 2nd District seat,” Chicago Tribune, April 14, 2013;


University of Washington, Seattle

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