Metro Weekly

Kelley Robinson Named New President of Human Rights Campaign

A well-known reproductive rights advocate, Robinson becomes HRC's ninth president and its first Black Queer female leader.

The Human Rights Campaign and its educational arm, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, announced that Kelley Robinson, a well-known reproductive rights activist, has been appointed HRC’s ninth president, becoming the first Black, Queer woman to lead the organization since its founding.

Robinson previously served as executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, where she led the organization and its 18 million supporters in the fight against defunding Planned Parenthood and fought against attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

She will officially take over the helm of HRC on Nov. 28, succeeding interim President Joni Madison.

During her tenure at PPAF, Robinson oversaw the organization’s national volunteer training and digital organizing programs, launching PP Defenders, a national virtual volunteer program that helped organize in-person and in-district events advocating for greater access to health care — especially reproductive health care.

Robinson first began her career as a community organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in Missouri, focusing on mobilizing youth voters.

She later worked as an organizer for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, covering Iowa and Eastern Nebraska, where she helped organize grassroots campaigns advocating for the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Iowa to cover family planning services for residents living under 300% of the poverty line whose insurance did not cover such services.

She also served as the national field manager for United for Gender Equity in 2010 and as national organizing director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2015 to 2019. 

Robinson has been credited with creating programs to expand Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s outreach efforts, particularly to young people of color, overseeing an increase in the organization’s supporters from 6.5 million people in 2012 to over 18 million today.

She helped quadruple the organization’s annual budget and oversaw a $45 million dollar electoral program — the largest in the organization’s history — in 2020.

She has been credited with emphasizing greater engagement with younger voters, overseeing the tripling of Planned Parenthood’s presence on college campuses, growing its youth and campus program to represent over 350 on-campus groups and more than 1.5 million youth activists.

“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,” Robinson said in a statement. “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.”

“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,” Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, the HRC and HRC Foundation board chairs, said in a joint statement.

“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,” the co-chairs added. “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, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, praised Robinson’s past accomplishments and her “visionary” leadership.

“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,” Johnson said in a statement. “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.”

Watch HRC’s video introducing newly named President Kelley Robinson below.

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