Robert Kell
Virginia Organizing, Southwest Organizer

Robert Kell joined Virginia Organizing as the Southwest Organizer in the summer of 2017. As a community organizer, Robert works with directly-affected individuals in Washington County and Lee County, Virginia to develop grassroots strategies to make real change around the issues that impact their lives the most. Currently, he is supporting making changes to school anti-discrimination policies, school resource officer policies, school consolidation, Medicaid expansion, restoration of voting rights, and predatory lending.

Robert attended the University of Virginia where he studied Political Theory and Gender Studies. While there, he was introduced to activism through the Living Wage Campaign and Workers and Students United. After graduating, Robert joined Teach for America and taught elementary special education. In the classroom, he developed a passion for helping parents advocate for their students and left teaching to pursue community organizing. He has worked on education, housing, and economic justice campaigns and served as the Outreach Intern with Faith in Public Life helping to amplify voices of faith in the public sphere.

A native of Southwest Virginia, Robert grew up in Smyth County and is very passionate about creating opportunities to build resilient rural communities. In 2016, Robert moved back to Southwest Virginia to manage Sprouting Hope, a small nonprofit focused on rural food access and food justice. As director, he expanded the organization’s impact by creating a market grower program and a high school entrepreneurial program. Additionally, he increased grant funding and fundraising efforts while growing over 12,000 pounds of organic produce for community partners and for sale at local farmers’ markets.

Robert is passionate about supporting Appalachian communities, dismantling racism, economic justice, rural progressivism, and young people. He is a founding member of the Young Appalachian Patriots, a group dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of civic leaders in the mountains and serves as a board member for the Appalachian Peace Education Center. Additionally, he has served on steering committees for social impact nonprofits including The Ohana Center for Recovery serving families dealing with addiction and The Power House, a YWCA facility in Glade Spring, Virginia.

Robert is proud to be a first-generation college graduate and a millennial Appalachian. He looks forward to learning and growing as a fellow with the New Leaders Council and hopes to bring his new skills and knowledge back to the southwest corner of the commonwealth.