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
Harlem, 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 2003-07. 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 Harlem[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).[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 1984-87, then Associate Director of The Youth Shelter from 1987-90. From 1990-92 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 earned her PhD 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 supported legislation to protect victims of domestic violence.

Committee assignments

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 in the 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% of the vote.[3]


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

Committee assignments

Voting record

In 2015, Kelly voted against HR 2262, a bi-partisan bill encouraging private space exploration and providing regulatory framework for such exploration.[19][20]

Personal life

Kelly lives in Matteson with her husband, Nathaniel Horn.


  1. " - Member Profile - Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill". 1956-04-30. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  2. <Alex Isenstadt (February 23, 2013). "Illinois special election 2013: Kelly wins special Ill. House race". Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Illinois Special Election Results". Politico.
  4. 1 2 3 Skiba, Katherine (April 14, 2013). "Robin Kelly hopes to change legacy of 2nd District seat". Chicago Tribune.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Kelly, Robin L.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  6. "IL State House 038 Race". Our Campaigns. November 5, 2002. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  7. "IL State House 038 Race". Our Campaigns. November 2, 2004. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  8. "IL State House 038 Race". Our Campaigns. November 7, 2006. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  9. "Illinois General Assembly – Senator Biography". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  10. "IL Treasurer – D Primary Race". Our Campaigns. February 2, 2010. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  11. "2012 General Election Results: U.S. President". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  12. "IL Treasurer Race". Our Campaigns. November 2, 2010. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  13. Paicely, Christopher (2013-02-11). "Congressmen Davis and Rush Endorse Robin Kelly: 2nd District Race – Government – Chicago Heights, IL Patch". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  14. McClelland, Edward (2013-02-13). "Jan Schakowsky Endorses Robin Kelly". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  15. "Bloomberg PAC endorses Robin Kelly in new Illinois special election ad". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  16. "Robin Kelly wins rival Toi Hutchinson's support in Illinois race". 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  17. "Illinois Special Election Results 2013 – District Results, Live Updates". 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  18. Archived 12 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 262" (XML). Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  20. Kevin McCarthy. "U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262)". Retrieved 2016-11-11.

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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