Class of ’08 student is appointed Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery and oversees opening of first casino in Virginia and regulation of mobile sports betting.
Kelly Gee is a graduate of Richard Bland College who went from an unpaid intern position to an executive director of a 3.7 billion dollar business in 12 years. The mentorship she received from a government professor at RBC fostered her determination to work hard and her love for state politics.
Gee’s parents chose RBC for her because, with the help of a 529 plan, she would be able to graduate without student loans. “I worked hard and finished my associate degree in one year and transferred to William and Mary where I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2010,” says Gee. “Earning two degrees in three years is all because of RBC.”
In addition to a long commute and heavy coursework, Gee managed to work for the school newspaper and volunteer as a team leader for the Relay for Life club which fundraised to fight cancer. “I remember working really hard, long days. I would drive to school in the morning, come home for lunch, and return for my afternoon classes,” says Gee.
“I had a government professor named Dr. Love, and I will never forget his first day of class. He walked us through our days from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to sleep and showed us how government is involved in every aspect—electricity, roads, etc.,” remembers Gee. “His class resonated with me, and I became interested in government.”
At WM, Gee got involved in political activism and seized opportunities to volunteer with candidates. An internship with a congressman doing constituent casework turned into a paid internship with Kirk Cox (RBC ’81) in the state legislature. Gee remained working for Cox for 6 years and was promoted from intern to Deputy Chief of Staff when he was Speaker of the VA House of Delegates.
“Running a caucus and guiding 55 members was difficult but rewarding,” says Gee. After working in partisan politics for 7 years and going back to school to earn a master’s degree from Virginia Tech, Gee decided she wanted to shift her career.
There was talk of legalizing mobile sports betting and landbased casinos in the Commonwealth, and the Virginia Lottery was on the rise. The government needed someone to guide the agency through the transformation of just selling lottery tickets to opening the state’s first casino in Bristol, VA. In the beginning of 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin appointed Gee to head the independent agency and oversee its 350 employees as the Executive Director.
In addition to selling lottery tickets, the agency now regulates 13 mobile sports betting platforms that saw over $4 billion in wagering on events last year. The first casino in Virginia has opened, with three more in Danville, Portsmouth, and Norfolk undergoing licensing investigations.
Gee is the youngest person to have served in her role, and she is a working mom with twin toddlers. She says there are two qualities to being a leader: “A good leader succeeds when their peers also succeed, and a good leader empowers the people under them to be creative and demonstrate their own values.”
She attributes her success to RBC saying, “It was the mentorship I received from RBC that allowed me to get there.” She currently serves as secretary of RBC’s Foundation and chair of the Advancement Committee, helping to raise money to meet the school’s strategic financial goals.