Kelley Robinson to Serve as President of the Human Rights Campaign

by Elizabeth Bibi

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) announced that Kelley Robinson (she/her) — a widely respected leader in the progressive movement — will become the organization’s ninth president and the first Black, Queer woman to lead the organization. Robinson comes to HRC after serving as the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), where she led the organization and its 18 million supporters in its efforts to ensure all people have access to healthcare as a human right. Her first official day as president of HRC will be November 28.

Robinson started her career as a community organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in Missouri and has spent more than 15 years on the frontlines of the progressive movement and the fight for equality. Developing and leading campaigns and programs that have secured major electoral and legislative wins federally and in states, Robinson has cultivated a reputation as a champion for inclusion, a fierce optimist, a battle-tested organizer, and a changemaker whose career has centered around the fight for bodily autonomy and racial and gender equity, with a focus on lifting up marginalized communities and building political power. During her time at the helm of PPAF, Robinson has led the largest electoral programs in the organization’s history, helped to quadruple the annual budget, and expanded membership and engagement, increasing the number of supporters from 6.5 million in 2012 to over 18 million today.

VIDEO: Meet HRC’s New President Kelley Robinson

“I’m honored and ready to lead HRC — and our more than three million member-advocates — as we continue working to achieve equality and liberation for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people,” said Kelley Robinson, HRC’s incoming president. “This is a pivotal moment in our movement for equality for LGBTQ+ people. We, particularly our trans and BIPOC communities, are quite literally in the fight for our lives and facing unprecedented threats that seek to destroy us. The overturning of Roe v. Wade reminds us we are just one Supreme court decision away from losing fundamental freedoms including the freedom to marry, voting rights, and privacy. We are facing a generational opportunity to rise to these challenges and create real, sustainable change. I believe that working together this change is possible right now. This next chapter of the Human Rights Campaign is about getting to freedom and liberation without any exceptions — and today I am making a promise and commitment to carry this work forward.”

Kelley Robinson, Incoming President, HRC

Morgan Cox (he/him) and Jodie Patterson (she,her), Human Rights Campaign and Foundation Board Chairs:

“After extensive engagement with staff and volunteers in our community across the country, we learned exactly what type of leader HRC needs to take us boldly into the future. We have found that forward-thinking brilliance in Kelley Robinson. Kelley is widely respected for her work and leadership creating diverse winning coalitions, building political power with a focus on underserved and the most marginalized communities, and creating programs that change culture. She led the largest political program in Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s history and has been at the center of critical fights to protect against repealing the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood — which saved access to critical, lifesaving healthcare services for millions of Americans including many in the LGBTQ+ community. These past months have reminded us why equality and liberation work is so important and we believe Kelley Robinson is the exact person to help us lead the fight for all LGBTQ+ people around the world. We are excited to build on the tremendous work of our teams at HRC and to grow our strength, compassion, knowledge, and reach through the visionary leadership of Kelley Robinson."

Alexis McGill Johnson (she/her), President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America & Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“For more than a decade, Kelley Robinson has worked to build Planned Parenthood’s political, organizing and outreach efforts to engage diverse communities in the fight for reproductive freedom. Kelley’s visionary leadership as the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Executive Director propelled the organization's advocacy work and helped build one of the largest, most engaged supporter networks in the country. So many of our rights and freedoms are under unprecedented attack, meaning the fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and so much more have never been more intertwined. Planned Parenthood is thrilled that the Human Rights Campaign has appointed Kelley to lead in this pivotal moment, and, for me personally, my heart is exploding with pride and awe. We look forward to working with Kelley and HRC to bring our collective power to the fight to protect and expand our freedoms.”

Bex Ahuja (they/them), Managing Director, Rockwood Leadership Institute:

“I’ve seen Kelley fight for justice and equality — particularly for underrepresented and people on the margins — for years. She is a leader with deep optimism and strength who sees and believes we can win through dark moments and never gets deterred. Her energy and spirit also make it possible for others to believe that change is possible in those darkest moments. Kelley believes in the power of grassroots organizing and has an inspiring ability to lead and galvanize people internally and externally to keep moving forward. I could not be happier for HRC and for Kelley that she will be the next President of the Human Rights Campaign.”

Bishop William J. Barber II (he/him), President & Senior Lecturer, Repairers of the Breach, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival; Bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; Distinguished Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary; Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, North Carolina:

“As pastor and national president of Repairers of the Breach I will tell anyone Kelley Robinson is a true justice fighter, friend and colleague in the movement who understands to her core that if we are going to have ongoing transformative change in the progressive movement, we must understand that so many issues – voting rights, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ rights, living wages, health care, lifting the voices and concerns of poor people – are intertwined. That we must work together in a fusion coalition -- true partnership where we understand that our issues intersect in a comprehensive moral agenda that demands transformation of everyone—not least, of us. As the leader of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Kelley stood up and stood with our fusion coalition and was right in the middle with the Poor People’s Campaign National Call for Moral Revival since our organizing and especially for the Poor People’s Low Wage Assembly Moral March on Washington and to the Polls in June 2022. Kelley has a deep political intellect and commitment to movement organizing. She understands that together we stand to form a moral counter to injustice. I look forward to continuing the fight for justice with Kelley at the helm of the Human Rights Campaign.”

OVERVIEW: HRC’s Incoming President Kelley Robinson

Kelley Robinson will lead the Human Rights Campaign and its more than 3 million members and supporters as the organization fulfills its mission to realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Below is an overview of Robinson’s work from her early days as a community organizer to her impact as a national leader in the fight for progress and equality.

➤ Changemaker on the frontlines of the national fight for equality.

  • In 2019, Robinson became the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, driving the organization’s strategic vision on behalf of its more than 18 million supporters working to ensure every person has access to healthcare — including abortion care — as a human right. Robinson also served as PPAF’s National Organizing Director from 2015-2019 and Associate Director Youth Engagement from 2011-2015.

  • Robinson created strategic programs that expanded outreach to new communities, significantly growing membership and engagement, resulting in an increase in the number of supporters from 6.5 million in 2012 to over 18 million today, with an emphasis on young people and people of color.

  • An effective fundraiser, Robinson helped to quadruple the annual budget resulting in a $45 million dollar electoral program in 2020, the largest electoral program in PPAF’s history — which played a game changing role in driving impact and wins in state, local, and federal campaigns as well as electoral advocacy efforts.

  • Throughout her time with Planned Parenthood, Robinson helped to deepen the organization’s engagement with new, younger, more diverse generations of activists — tripling Planned Parenthood’s campus presence, growing the youth and campus program to represent over 350 affiliated campus groups and 1.5 million activists nationwide, reflecting the diversity of the communities served.

  • Robinson’s work — which emphasized supporting young people of color and LGBTQ+ youth — earned her recognition as a “Shero of the LGBTQ+ Community” in Washington, D.C.

➤ Battle-tested community organizer.

  • Robinson started her career in advocacy as an organizer, first with Obama for America in mid-Missouri in 2008, where she registered more than 30% of young people attending local colleges to vote, and mobilized tens of thousands of others to engage with the campaign.

  • Robinson continued her work as an organizer in 2009 working for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (Iowa and Eastern Nebraska) where she led grassroots organizing that ultimately led to passage of legislation in Iowa expanding Medicaid coverage for family planning services to residents up to 300% of the poverty line whose insurance did not offer the services.

  • Robinson has cultivated and trained a sprawling network of young activists, leaders, and organizers across the country to run local, state, and national campaigns — both in her time as national field manager for Unite for Gender Equity (URGE) in 2010 and as the national organizing director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2015.

  • As national organizing director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Robinson led the fight to defeat every effort to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act – which saved access to critical, lifesaving health services for millions of Americans including many in the LGBTQ+ community.

  • She also built the organization’s national volunteer training and digital organizing programs to scale; In 2017, Robinson helped to create and launch the PP Defenders — a national virtual volunteer program that recruited over 500,000 members, resulting in thousands of in-person and in-district events, and growing an energized and expanded grassroots army across the country.

  • Robinson has extensive political organizing experience, having worked on behalf of both candidate and ballot campaigns in states including Georgia, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Mississippi, and Colorado, among many others.

➤ Champion for inclusion who leads with equity.

  • Robinson is a proven manager, leader, and executive coach who believes in building people, organizations and coalitions.

  • As Executive Director at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Robinson developed a diverse and engaged board of directors and led her staff and the organization in developing equitable, sustainable, and mission-centered goals.

  • As Trainer in residence at The Management Training Center, over the past five years Robinson has coached over 1,000 non-profit and social justice leaders on managing people and program best practices with an equity and racial justice perspective — for a number of leading organizations in the non-profit, labor, progressive, and racial justice spaces.

  • Robinson’s unique skills and expertise will be critical to the continuation of HRC’s work to improve its culture and commitment to anti-racism, intersectionality, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

➤ Fierce optimist guided by a vision of what’s possible.

  • Robinson is a leader with vision to see beyond the current challenges while still having the strength and courage to fight the seemingly small battles: “There is not one single person not waking up to a crisis today — whether its not being able to afford basic necessities because of inflation or facing infringements on your rights because you are a woman, a person of color or LGBTQ+.”

  • Robinson’s optimism and resilience stem from her family’s legacy as the first free Black family in Muscatine, Iowa — the first state to rebuke slave laws and the third state to legalize same-sex marriage — instilling in her the belief that anything is possible, especially in the midst of crises.

  • As a Black, Queer woman, wife, and new mother, Robinson understands the intersectionality of this moment: “I am a Black, Queer mother and wife. And to be able to say that — and to be acknowledged and celebrated in that way — is the direct result of the work of organizations like HRC. At the core of HRC’s work is the ability to create the families of our dreams and to fight for more rights and freedoms for the next generation than we can even imagine in our own.”

For more information about HRC’s new president Kelley Robinson, please watch this video.

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The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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