Get to know Robbi...
Robbi is a native of the South Puget Sound. She has personal knowledge of Olympia's past going back almost forty years to her childhood. Robbi's first job was at a restaurant in Olympia while she was in high school. Robbi danced ballet at the Johansen Olympia Dance Center for many years as a child--and performed in that studio's production of the Nutcracker as recently as 2018 when her son performed too. Robbi and her family made frequent trips to Olympia while she was growing up for Olympia's shopping and entertainment activities. She has witnessed Olympia grow and the changes that have occurred.
Robbi was born in Mason County and graduated from Shelton High School in 2000. Robbi’s father and step-father had long careers with Mason County PUD. Her mother has worked office jobs in the private and public sectors, and has been elected to the Council of the Skokomish Indian Tribe. Robbi is an enrolled member of the Skokomish Tribe.
A model student, Robbi's grades and test scores earned her admission to the University of Washington. She continued to perform well in school and during the summer after her junior year in college Robbi was selected as a Udall Foundation Congressional Intern and placed as intern in Washington D.C for Senator Patty Murray's office. She enjoyed the experience serving in government. Robbi graduated from UW in 2004 with a degree in sociology; she was the first in her family to graduate college. She helped put herself through college by working and obtaining student loans, which loans she has since paid back in full without government assistance.
Robbi's interests and thirst for knowledge then took her to law school. She received a full scholarship to attend the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, which is ranked as a top twenty-five law school in the country. Robbi graduated the three-year program in two-and-a-half years. Her legal studies focused on Native American law.
The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation hired Robbi out of law school after she passed the Washington State Bar Exam and earned her law license. She started her professional career in 2007 as a code writer for the Chehalis Tribe. Robbi's work ethic and intelligence led her to become General Counsel for the Chehalis Tribe within a few years. As General Counsel, Robbi was the director of the legal department and personally involved in advising the Chehalis Tribe's Business Committee, which is its governing body. Robbi's work at the Chehalis Tribe included experience as a director that had to develop and work within a departmental budget, experience with a strong council type governing body, experience working with other departments to accomplish goals set by the Business Committee, and experience working to create and maintain intergovernmental compacts. Robbi also served on the Board of Directors of the entity that owns Great Wolf Lodge during her time working for the Chehalis Tribe.
Robbi married her former law school classmate, John Kesler, in 2008 and she gave birth to their first child, Jack, in 2010. Robbi and John had their second child, Clara, in 2015. Robbi and John lived in Olympia near John's law office at that time and Robbi decided with a young family she would find employment in Olympia to reduce her work commute. Robbi left her job at the Chehalis Tribe and eventually put her legal analysis skills to work for the State of Washington.
For parts of 2015 and 2016 Robbi was a tax policy specialist with the Department of Revenue. At the end of 2016, Robbi started work with the State Legislature as non-partisan counsel for House of Representatives committees. During the legislative sessions from 2017 to 2020 Robbi staffed various committees, including the Local Government Committee. Robbi resigned her position at the end of 2020 to focus on helping her children with virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simultaneous with holding legal jobs that often involved odd and long hours of work plus raising a family, Robbi's life in Olympia after law school has included participation in various community programs and non-profit organizations. Robbi is a graduate of Leadership Thurston County. Robbi is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Olympia and is a Past President of that organization. Robbi has served on the Board of the PTA at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy. And she has served on the Board of her Homeowner's Association, which manages a community of twenty-four townhouse style condominiums in one of the more densely populated areas in Olympia. Further, Robbi's time is shared with her husband and she supports him in his community service, which includes volunteering with Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services, Treasurer of West Olympia Rotary Club's Charity Board, Thurston County Bar Association Board of Directors, and past youth sports coach at Capitol Little League and City of Tumwater youth basketball league.
Robbi is not active in local politics. She was engaged more with politics as a younger person, including during her time in Washington D.C. and during law school she was active with voter registration and poll observation efforts in Arizona. But after law school Robbi chose community and family activities that were not political. Additionally, Robbi's employment as a non-partisan staff member prohibited political involvement. Staying out of politics helped Robbi work equally well with members of different political parties during her time working for the Legislature. The Olympia City Council is a non-partisan position, or at least it is intended to be, and Robbi is the perfect person to serve as a considerate, reasonable voice for the people of Olympia.
Robbi is knowledgeable about the structure of the City of Olympia's government and how the City Council operates through her work with a similar government as General Counsel for the Chehalis Tribe and her work for the Legislature's Local Government Committee. Robbi is knowledgeable about the City's policies and plans through independent study and her connection with the community. And Robbi is aware of the issues facing the community through her perspective as a member of a minority group, woman, lawyer, property owner, mother of school aged children, and spouse of a local small business owner.
Robbi has a history of accomplishing goals and a passion for public service.