Robert Winningham (D-IN-9)
Campaign links: Robert Winningham (D-IN-9)
Robert Richard Winningham
Robert Winningham Congressional Candidate Indiana District 9
Biography of Robert Winningham from Winningham for Congress Committee
In 1994, Robert was hired by Lee Hamilton as Staff Assistant for Community Development. In this role, he met with constituents, mayors, county commissioners, state and federal officials, and business and labor leaders across the Ninth District in an effort to find ways in which Lee could assist. Robert traveled the District with Lee, participating in meetings on workforce development, projects that included privatizing the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP), expansion of regional hospitals, developing sewer and water lines in 21 counties, and ensuring roads and highway projects were getting the attention they needed. Among Robert’s projects were the creation of the Crawford County’s business park, the creation of the Charlestown State Park, and the recruitment of A.K. Steel to Southern Indiana.
“Lee Hamilton was, and still is, very much a mentor to me,” said Robert. “I learned a great deal from him, particularly the value of public service. His attention to detail was uncanny and his commitment to his constituents was unmatched.”
In 1997, just after Lee announced that he would not seek re-election to an 18th term in Congress, Robert decided to return to Texas to be close to his aging parents. He was hired as Executive Director of the Greenville Board of Development where he worked with major manufacturing companies such as Newell Rubbermaid and defense contractors Raytheon and L-3 Communications. Job training became Robert’s passion after he served on the regional Workforce Development board that distributed over $50 million annually to companies and workers for job training and retraining. Also in Greenville, he helped create a Federal Aviation Administration-certified Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) school, helped expand the region’s community college, and led the redevelopment of two high-rise office buildings.
In 2006, Robert became Executive Director/CEO of the Allen Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), where he oversaw the creation of nearly 5,200 jobs and over $750 billion in taxable value. Working with major companies such as Cisco Systems, Experian, Micron Technologies and many mid- and small-size businesses, Robert earned a reputation as a consensus-builder while making government work better and cost less. He served on the board of the Foundation for Allen Schools, helping to raise and distribute funds for scholarships to students and teachers. Robert recognized that students needed relevant skills today for the jobs of tomorrow, so he nurtured the growth of jobs by encouraging businesses to help write the high school’s technology curriculum.
Robert’s appreciation for Indiana began while coaching state and national champion swimmers at Jeffersonville High School and with the club team he created, Pacesetter Aquatics. Known to many as ‘Coach Robert,’—rewarding his athletes’ performances with a high-five and lemon drops—he participated in many service projects as a member of the Jeffersonville Rotary Club, and later in the New Albany Rotary Club. Robert graduated from Leadership Southern Indiana, which gave him the opportunity to learn first-hand the challenges facing many Hoosier leaders in developing their communities and delivering services to those in need. While born in Texas, Robert has always considered himself a proud Hoosier and found special meaning in the song “Back Home Again in Indiana”.
Born May 16, 1961 to Richard and Joan Winningham, Robert grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. His entrepreneur spirit began at an early age by selling popcorn for the local YMCA, offering Radio Flyer wagon rides for a quarter, and leading his classmates in publishing a class magazine. As a young teenager, Robert worked a paper route, which caused him to take an interest in current events—an interest that he continued later, snipping newspaper clips as he learned from Lee Hamilton.
Robert’s competitive drive was nurtured through his many years as a competitive swimmer. Training for distance races, Robert learned to set goals and work tenaciously toward achieving them. He also learned to turn setbacks into victories, earning High School All-American while contributing to his team’s state championship in 1978.
Moving to New York City after earning a bachelor’s degree the University of North Texas, Robert worked in the private sector as an advertising copywriter and account executive, but always found time to coach. For several years he worked two jobs: coaching swimming and writing ad copy for agencies in Louisville and for Michaels Arts & Crafts. But it was the opportunity to work for Congressman Lee Hamilton’s re-election campaign in 1992 that enabled Robert to discover the nobility of working in public service.
Robert actively volunteers in the community, having served as District Chairman for the Boy Scouts of America and on the board of directors for the local Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, and Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the Marketing Committee of USA Swimming, the national governing body of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Robert is a member of the International Economic Development Council, International Council of Shopping Centers, and Corenet and NAIOP, both associations for economic development.
Robert and his wife Meredith’s greatest joy and accomplishment are their two sons,
Grey and Reid.