Youngstown native now mayor in Georgia speaks at MLK Breakfast on campus Jan. 19

Rochelle Robinson, a native of Youngstown’s South Side and the first African American mayor of Douglasville, Ga., gives the keynote address at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Breakfast on Thursday, Jan. 19 on the campus of Youngstown State University.

The breakfast is 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center.

Tickets are available through Jan. 17 at the information counter in Kilcawley Center.

Tickets for YSU students are free and are available in the Student Diversity Programs Office in Kilcawley Center.

The former Rochelle Martin grew up on Youngstown’s South Side and enrolled at YSU in the early 1980s with plans to become a nurse. Later, she changed her major to Communication and planned a broadcasting career with two classmates – Madonna Chism Pinkard, now communications director for WFMJ-TV in Youngstown, and Sharon North, a public relations manager for the city of Richmond, Va.

But the Central Intelligence Agency had other plans for Robinson. She was a senior and an Ohio Army National Guard veteran attending college on the GI Bill when she met CIA recruiters at a university job fair. A YSU cheerleader, longtime runner and gymnast, Robinson was well equipped for the physical rigors of CIA training, and she already had military security clearance.

Soon after, in 1986, she accepted a commission as a federal law enforcement officer, trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers and began an eight-year run with the CIA. Based in Washington, D.C., she traveled the world – including some time in Helsinki, Sweden, the one location she’s permitted to mention. She lived under an assumed name and was often out of contact with friends and family for months at a time.

All that changed in 1994 when Robinson visited a church in Atlanta to attend the christening of a friend’s infant and met a young pastor there. A year later, she moved to Georgia, left the CIA and married the pastor, the Rev. Mr. Jeff Robinson. Following the example her mother had set for her while growing up in Youngstown, Robinson became involved as a volunteer in Douglasville, her new city of residence, joining numerous community boards and committees and eventually winning election to city council. She was elected mayor in December 2015.

In addition to her mayoral duties, Robinson and her husband have three children, all in their teens. Also an ordained minister, she co-pastors a church with him in nearby Rex, Ga.