Robin Kelly

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Robin Kelly

b. April 30, 1956
U.S. Congress, 1st District (2013-)
Illinois, House of Representatives (2003-2007)

Born in New York City and raised in Harlem, Robin Kelly originally came to Illinois to become a child psychologist through college at Bradley University. After graduate school, she became a counselor in Peoria and Connecticut, eventually landing a job directing community services in Matteson, Illinois, where she got to know a growing political dynasty in Rich Township.

As a state legislator Kelly was known to be affable and smarter than most, and able to count votes when necessary. She was plucked to run the young and newly elected State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' office, as a clear signal that an experienced Springfield hand would be available, and then took a shot at running for her boss' spot when Giannoulias ran for U.S. Senate in 2010.

While she didn't win in what turned out to be a Republican year, she did run a respectable campaign. Newly-elected Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle then brought her in as Chief Administrative Officer, to help restructure the County government and budget. But it was only a temporary landing place, as she quickly threw her hat in the ring for Congress when Jesse Jackson, Jr. stepped down following his conviction on federal charges.

With Cheryl Whittaker, wife of Eric Whittaker and a close friend of Barack Obama, chairing her 2013 campaign, Kelly cut a wide swathe through the 17 Democrats who filed in the special primary. She handily won the primary, with 56% of 15 candidates still on the ballot, and as is the case with most Chicago elections, the general election was mostly a formality.

Kelly has been rumored to be looking at statewide office.


  • 1978, Bradley University, B.A. Psychology
  • 1982, Bradley University, M.A. Counseling
  • 2004, Northern Illinois University, Ph.D., Political Science

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