Advocacy: A History

Changing public policy through advocacy is like watching climate change in progress. It is very slow, but it can melt cultural and political glaciers

You have to take the long term view, be willing to be persistent, patient, and committed.

Here is a brief history of the Kell Robotics advocacy journey.




The Beginnings

In the spring of 2009 Kell Robotics won the Peachtree Regional Chairman's award. At the same time several other Georgia teams won most robot competition awards, and Georgia teams also won other awards such as Engineering Inspiration. This was after many of the Peachtree Regional awards went to out of state teams in 2008.

Using the results of the 2009 Peachtree Regional, we contacted the Georgia Governor's office with the intent to pry open the doors of the political scene.

The result was that Governor Perdue invited these winning teams to the Gold Dome for the signing ceremony for HB 280: Differentiated Pay for Math and Science Teachers which was the legislation to support pay for STEM teachers.

In Fall of 2009 we started a series of briefings to the Governor's Policy Advisor on Education.



During the 2009 Championship Event in Atlanta our team invited and briefed Georgia Politicians at the Championship Event.

At the photo on the left you will see candidate for Governor David Poythress with his wife. In the background is an executive from Lockheed Martin. The remaining persons are from Kell Robotics.

Mr. Poythress was also in attendance at GRITS: the off season FRC competition run by GeorgiaFIRST.







In January of 2009, 2010, and 2011 we exhibited at the TAG Legislative Reception (Technology Association of Georgia) that is designed to exhibit technology related initiatives to the members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Theses types of events do not have any specific agenda but are intended to acclimate policy makers to issues in technology and education.

We have repeated exhibiting at this event for several successive years.

We then used this visit to leverage our political involvement in Federal, State, and local politics. We have expanded and developed our political involvement and influence continuously since spring 2009.


U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey


In September of 2009, we briefed U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey on the value of FIRST and it's importance to our country.

Congressman Gingrey co-chaired the Congressional Robotics Caucus along with Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania. After our briefing, Congressman Gingrey asked us to go to Washington DC and brief the Congressional Robotics Caucus.

We were in the process of scheduling the briefing for fall of 2009 but Dean Kamen took the briefing slot we were considering. We elected to defer our briefing to September of 2010, while Dean Kamen briefed the Caucus in 2009.

We worked with Congressman Gingrey continually for years until he retired from the Congress at the end of his term in 2014.

The US Congressional Briefing article is here.



Laying a foundation

2009 was the rookie year for advocacy at Kell Robotics. 2010 was the year that things really ramped up with a stream a meetings and briefings that continues to this day. After the 2010 FIRST Championship our attention turned to meeting with as many politicians as possible.


Governor Nathan Deal

In May 2010 there was a short lunch meeting with then US Congressman & candidate for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.   A few weeks later in June 2010 the team gave an extensive two hour briefing and meeting with Congressman Deal.

This meeting has turned out to be crucially important in the development of FIRST in Georgia.   At this meeting the Governor became very familiar the importance and impact of FIRST programs. 

The following November the Congressman was elected Governor of Georgia, and was elected in 2014.   In March of 2011 we invited the Georgia FIRST Lady, Sandra Deal to attend and speak at the Peachtree Regional Competition.  In the winter of 2012, we asked the Governor to speak at the Peachtree Regional.  He had to deliver this message via video.  The Governor asked Kell Robotics to write the Peachtree speech for the Governor.

In 2014 the Governor was the keynote speaker at the Peachtree Regional Competition at the request of the Regional Director for GeorgiaFIRST.  He spoke eloquently and proficiently about FIRST, completely accurately and off the cuff, without notes.

Governor Nathan Deal by all indications love and supports FIRST.  We have been working with the Governor and his office for over five years mapping a solution for the State of Georgia.   More about these efforts can be seen at our policy page.   Creating a long term, sustainable solution for Georgia is a big task and has taken year of patient work with stakeholders all across the state.

Currently we are engaged in a series of activities to the Governor's office to support the Governor's efforts in improving education.  These efforts will eventually lead to widespread support for FIRST across Georgia.


U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson


In November 2010 we had an extensive and productive briefing with Senator Johnny Isakson in his Atlanta office.  

There was shorter following up meeting with the Senator in February 2012 in Washington DC.

In the summer of 2015 there was an extensive follow up meeting with his policy advisors regarding House-passed Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and the Senate-passed Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177),  which led to ESSA—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

This important meeting of 2015 was made much easier by our initial briefings and relationship building that started in 2010.


U.S. Congressman Tom Price


Other briefing include Congressman Price.   At the invitation of Kell Robotics Congressman Price spoke at the 2012 Peachtree Regional and spent much of the day touring the event.








Kell Robotics
3939 Royal Drive, STE 216
Kennesaw, Georgia 30144

STEM Leadership Foundation
3939 Royal Drive, STE 216
Kennesaw, Georgia 30144



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