Representative Robin Kelly chooses Abby Witt as executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party
WASHINGTON – Representative Robin Kelly, in her first major staff transfer as the new Illinois Democratic Party President, hired Abby Witt to be the next CEO, bringing in a seasoned political agent with deep connections with progressive democrats and extensive organizational experience.
Kelly said in a joint interview with Witt that she was “an organizer and creator of an organization”, that she had “a wealth of experience” and that she was “someone I can really count on”.
“I have built organizations from scratch,” Witt said.
Kelly highlighted Witt’s experience working with elected Democrats, candidates, donors, stakeholders and grassroots activists.
Witt worked on President Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns, was associate director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs – the store run by Valerie Jarrett – and was Dan Biss’ campaign manager , now the mayor-elect of Evanston, when he ran for governor in 2018.
Raised in Evanston and now a resident of Chicago, Witt, a graduate of the American University in Washington, DC, is heavily involved in training local candidates and campaign agents.
She was the director of Obama’s political organization, Organizing for Action, and has just resigned as an associate at Arena, a Washington-based political company that trains “the next generation of candidates and campaign staff.” indicates its website. US Rep Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., Worked with Arena when she first raced in 2018 and scored a thwarted victory.
Kelly was elected DPI chairman in March after State Representative Mike Madigan resigned, forced to let go of the party he had held since 1998. Madigan was also dropped as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the House of Representatives. following the Commonwealth Edison scandal. He has not been criminally charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
Witt will work during a transition period with current Managing Director Mary Morrissey.
Starting in 2018, State Representative Christian Mitchell – now Vice Governor – followed by Morrissey – stepped in and made the DPI work after a sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Madigan Tim’s sidekick. Mapes as executive director of the party.
Madigan and, by extension, Mapes, ran DPI as a closed club and not as an inclusive party operation.
Once Mitchell, followed by Morrissey on board, the organization began to function more as a State Party and not just as a branch of Madigan.
Making DPI more inclusive is a top priority for Kelly as she begins to put her stamp on the party.
Kelly said she has seven work transition groups, reviewing “regulations, programs and training,” hosting events and establishing internship and scholarship programs to “engage youth.”
Madigan also refused to participate, as presidents of states regularly do, in the office of the Democratic National Committee, which Kelly will do.
This month, Kelly asked the Federal Election Commission for advice on whether she had the power to look after the state party’s finances, or whether she was barred from collecting and spending party money and to lead employees because she holds a federal office. Kelly said she is still awaiting a response from the FEC.