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Robin Kelly

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Robin Kelly

Robin Kelly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 2nd district
Assumed office
April 9, 2013
Preceded by Jesse Jackson
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 38th district
In office
January 8, 2003 – January 12, 2007
Preceded by Renée Kosel
Succeeded by Al Riley
Personal details
Born Robin Lynne Kelly
(1956-04-30) April 30, 1956
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nathaniel Horn
Alma mater Bradley University
Northern Illinois University
Religion Nondenominational Christianity[1]

Robin Lynne Kelly (born April 30, 1956) is an American politician from Illinois who has served as the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 2nd congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, Kelly served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007. She then served as chief of staff for Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias until 2010. She was the 2010 Democratic nominee for State Treasurer, but was defeated in the general election. Prior to running for Congress, Kelly served as the Cook County Chief Administrative Officer.

After winning the Democratic primary,[2] she won the 2013 special election to succeed Jesse Jackson, Jr. in the U.S. House of Representatives.[3]

Early life, education, and early political career

The daughter of a grocer, Robin Lynne Kelly was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City[4] on April 30, 1956.[5] Hoping to become a child psychologist, she attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois,[4] and she is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority through the Zeta Phi Chapter. At Bradley she obtained her B.A. in psychology (1977/1978) and her M.A. in counseling (1982).[4][5] While in Peoria she directed a "crisis nursery" and worked in a hospital.[4]

Kelly has worked in public service in Illinois for 25 years. She was Director of the Crisis Nursery at Crittenton Care and Counseling Center from 1984 through 1987, then Associate Director of The Youth Shelter from 1987 through 1990. From 1990 through 1992 she was Minority Student Services Director at Bradley University. From 1992 through 2006 she served as a Director of Community Affairs in Matteson.[5] She is co-founder and past president of the Unity Coalition of the South Suburbs.

Kelly has served as a Commissioner on Human Rights in Cook County since 1998, and a Board Member of the Hate Crimes Commission since 2005. She has been a board member for the Rich Township Food Pantry since 1994 and the Illinois Theatre Center since 1993.

Kelly has been a Bradley University Trustee since 2003, and a board member of the Bradley University Council since 1998. In October 2009, Kelly was inducted into the University’s Centurion Society, an honored alumni group of respected leaders in their fields.

She obtained her Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University (2004).[5]

Illinois House of Representatives (2003–2007)


In 2002, Kelly decided to challenge a ten-year incumbent Illinois state representative in the Democratic primary. In November, she defeated Republican Kitty Watson 81%–19%.[6] In 2004, she won re-election to a second term, defeating Republican Jack McInerney 86%–14%.[7] In 2006, she won re-election to a third term unopposed.[8]


From 2003 to 2007, she represented Chicago's southern suburbs in Illinois' 38th house district in the Illinois General Assembly. She sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills protecting victims of consumer fraud, supporting economic development, and improving mass transit. She also supported legislation to protect victims of domestic violence.

Committee assignments

  • Appropriations-Human Services
  • Housing & Urban Development
  • International Trade & Commerce
  • Local Government
  • Mass Transit (Vice-Chairman)
  • Paratransit
  • Whole[9]

Inter-legislative years (2007–2013)

In January 2007, she resigned her house seat to become Chief of Staff to Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. She was the first African American woman to serve as chief of staff to an elected constitutional statewide officeholder. Robin was appointed to become Chief Administrative Officer for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle in 2011.

In 2010, Kelly ran for Illinois Treasurer. In the Democratic primary, she defeated founding member and senior executive of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Justin Oberman 58%–42%. She won most of the counties in the state, including Cook County with 59% of the vote.[10][11] In the November general election, Republican State Senator Dan Rutherford defeated her 50%–45%. She won just six of the state's 102 counties: Cook (62%), Alexander (52%), Gallatin (51%), St. Clair (50%), Calhoun (49%), and Rock Island (48%) counties.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives

2013 congressional election

Kelly entered the field for Illinois's 2nd congressional district after Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned just three weeks after being elected to a 10th term. On February 11, two Chicago-based Democratic congressmen, Bobby Rush and Danny K. Davis, endorsed her.[13] On February 13, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky endorsed her.[14] A few days later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed her and committed $2 million in TV ads supporting her by highlighting her opposition to the National Rifle Association. She was also endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.[15] On February 17, State Senator Toi Hutchinson decided to drop out to endorse Kelly. On February 26, 2013 she won the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district—with 52% of the vote.[16][17] In the April 9 general election, she defeated Republican community activist Paul McKinley and a variety of independent candidates with around 71 percent of the vote.[3]


Kelly took office on April 9, 2013,[5] and was sworn in on April 11, 2013.[18]

Committee assignments

Personal life

Kelly lives in Matteson with her husband Nathaniel Horn.


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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jesse Jackson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ted Yoho
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
James Smith

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