The Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday that Kelley Robinson will serve as its ninth president — the first Black queer woman to lead the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Robinson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said she was honored to lead HRC and its 3 million member-advocates during “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,” Robinson said in a statement Tuesday, using an acronym for Black and Indigenous people of color. “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.”
She continued, “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.”
Robinson began her career in 2008 as an organizer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Missouri, and she has worked in advocacy ever since, according to the HRC. Prior to becoming the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy and political arm of the reproductive health care nonprofit group, she served as its national organizing director and as director for youth engagement.
Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, board chairs for the Human Rights Campaign and its foundation, said in a joint statement that Robinson was at the center of fights to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.
“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,” Cox and Patterson said.
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Robinson will step into the role a year after HRC fired its previous president, Alphonso David, who was the organization’s first Black president.
A report released in August 2021 by the New York Attorney General’s Office alleged that David was involved in efforts to discredit a woman who accused then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. David allegedly consulted with the governor’s office in December 2020, while president of HRC, the report said.
David maintained that he wasn’t aware of allegations of sexual harassment against the governor during his time as chief counsel.
However, HRC conducted an internal investigation and found that David’s “conduct in assisting Governor Cuomo’s team, while president of HRC, was in violation of HRC’s conflict of interest policy and the mission of HRC,” the group said last year.
In February, David sued the organization in federal court, alleging that he was underpaid and then terminated “because he is Black.” He also claimed that there is a culture of racism in the organization.
Joni Madison, HRC’s interim president, said in a response that David’s complaint “is riddled with untruths” and described it as retaliation for his firing, which HRC said was the result of his own actions.