Black queer woman named president of Human Rights Campaign

  • by Chris Johnson, Washington Blade
  • Wednesday September 21, 2022
Share this Post:
Incoming Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. Photo: Screengrab via HRC YouTube
Incoming Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. Photo: Screengrab via HRC YouTube

Kelley Robinson, a Black, queer woman and veteran of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is to become the next president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's leading LGBTQ group announced September 20.

Robinson is set to become the ninth president of HRC after having served as executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and has more than 12 years of experience as a leader in the progressive movement. She'll be the first Black queer woman to lead HRC as its president; Joni Madison, a gay married woman, has been serving in the role on an interim basis for the past year.

"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. "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 next HRC president was named as Democrats are performing well in polls ahead of the midterm elections and after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving an opening for the LGBTQ group to play a key role amid fears LGBTQ rights are next on the chopping block.

"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," Robinson said. "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."

HRC and HRC Foundation board chairs Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson praised Robinson in a statement.

"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," Cox and Patterson stated. "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."

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, the HRC release stated.

Robinson will start at HRC November 28, after the elections. She will be attending HRC's national dinner October 29 in Washington, D.C., the release stated.

HRC announced its next president after a nearly yearlong search process after the board of directors terminated its former president, Alphonso David, when he was ensnared in the sexual misconduct scandal that led former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. David has denied wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit against the LGBTQ group alleging racial discrimination.

Madison, who had been HRC's chief operating officer and chief of staff, was named the organization's interim president September 9, 2021.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.