Kelda Helen Roys
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 26th district
Assumed office
January 4, 2021
Preceded byFred Risser
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 81st district
In office
January 2009 – January 7, 2013
Preceded byDavid Travis
Succeeded byFred Clark
Personal details
Born (1979-06-24) June 24, 1979 (age 41)
Marshfield, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Dan Reed
EducationNew York University (BA)
University of Wisconsin, Madison (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Kelda Helen Roys (born June 24, 1979) is an American tech entrepreneur, business owner, attorney, and Democratic politician. She currently serves in the Wisconsin State Senate, representing the 26th senatorial district. She succeeded Fred Risser in 2021, who was the longest-serving state legislator in American history. She previously served two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly, was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018.[1]

Early life and education

Roys was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and raised in Medford and Madison. Her mother was a social worker, her stepfather was an environmental lawyer, and her father was a retired prosecutor and law enforcement officer.[2] Roys graduated from Madison East High School in 1997.[3]

Roys attended New York University, where she designed her own major in politics, drama, and cultural studies, and received a B.A., magna cum laude, in 2000.[4][5] In 2004, she received a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School, focusing on civil rights and international law, and was a participant in the Wisconsin Innocence Project. During and after college, Roys worked full-time as a real estate agent at The Marketing Directors, Inc.[6]

Community involvement

Roys has served on the boards of Clean Lakes Alliance, TEMPO Madison, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Women's Council, ACLU of Wisconsin, Madison Repertory Theater, Dane County Democratic Party, Sherman Neighborhood Association, Wisconsin Public Interest Law Foundation, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and the State Bar of Wisconsin's Legal Services Committee.[7]

Political career

Law and Advocacy

During law school, she worked at the Wisconsin Innocence Project, as well as several international law firms. After law school, she served for four years as the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, where she successfully advocated for passage of the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act.[8] She currently practices real estate law and serves as CEO and Founder of her real estate startup, OpenHomes.[9]


Wisconsin State Assembly (2009-2013)

In 2008, Roys won election to the Wisconsin State Assembly representing the 81st Assembly district, filling the seat left vacant by the retirement of David Travis, who had held the seat since 1983. She won a six-way Democratic primary with 30% of the vote and was unopposed in the general election.[10]

After being reelected in 2010, Roys was chosen by her peers to serve as the Democratic Caucus chair in the Assembly. Roys served as vice-chair of the Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, and later served as ranking member on the Committee on Elections and Campaign Finance Reform and the Committee on Consumer Protection & Personal Privacy.

Roys authored numerous pieces of legislation during her time in office, including public breastfeeding protections, additional income tax deductions for families, expanded college savings programs, reproductive health access, expanding health care coverage, increased training and data collection for law enforcement officers, expansion of AODA treatment services and prevention programs, and a successful statewide ban of Bisphenol A, or "BPA."[11] Roys also publicly fought against 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, and had pledged to repeal the law if elected governor.[12]

2012 congressional election

Main article: 2012 United States House of Representatives elections in Wisconsin § District 2

In 2012, when Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl, Roys left her Assembly seat to run for office in the open 2nd Congressional district. She lost to Mark Pocan in a four-candidate Democratic primary.[13]

2018 gubernatorial election

Main article: 2018 Wisconsin gubernatorial election

Roys declared her candidacy for governor of Wisconsin on December 7, 2017.[14]

Roys gained national attention when a campaign ad in which she breastfeeds her infant daughter went viral.[15][16] She was endorsed by EMILY's List, NOW,[17] NARAL Pro-Choice America,[18] Feminist Majority Foundation, former gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik, former State Senator Jessica King, Representatives JoCasta Zamarripa and Amanda Stuck, and Kate Michelman, Nancy Keenan, Jehmu Greene, Ruth Messinger, Robert Lopez, and Sarah Silverman.[19]

Roys won first place by 12 points in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention straw poll.[20] In July 2018, the Roys campaign announced that she had raised over $800,000.[21][22]

Roys came in third in the eight candidate Democratic primary on August 28, 2018, with Tony Evers winning the nomination.[23]

2020 state senate election

In March 2020, Fred Risser, the longest-serving legislator in American history, announced he would retire from his seat in the Wisconsin State Senate at the end of the current term.[24] Roys immediately announced her candidacy to run for the vacated seat.[25] The race, in the heavily Democratic region of Dane County, Wisconsin, attracted six other candidates in a crowded Democratic primary, which was also defined by the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin and the protests against institutional racism prompted by the killing of George Floyd. In the August primary, Roys prevailed over her six competitors, winning 40% of the vote. She was unopposed in the November general election, and assumed office in January 2021.[26][27]

Business career

In 2013, Roys founded a venture-backed[28] real estate tech company, OpenHomes,[29] a virtual real estate agency that helps people buy and sell homes more efficiently and affordably.[30]


  1. ^ Kelda Roys prevails in seven-way Democratic contest for Madison Senate seat, by Briana Reilly, The Capital Times, August 11, 2020, retrieved August 13, 2020
  2. ^ Kelda Roys On Gubernatorial Run, Education, Jobs, Foxconn | Here and Now, retrieved 2018-07-12
  3. ^ 2009-2010 Wisconsin Blue Book. State of Wisconsin. p. 73.
  4. ^ "Kelda Helen Roys audio interview". D.C. Everest School District. Archived from the original on 2013-07-24. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  5. ^ "Law firm biography". Wheeler, Van Sickle and Anderson. Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  6. ^ "Kelda Roys". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  7. ^ "Kelda Helen Roys". Wisconsin Vote. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  8. ^ "Paula Bezark: Kelda Roys will deliver results in the state Senate". The Capital Times. Archived from the original on June 11, 2020.
  9. ^ "Kelda Roys: CEO/Founder". OpenHomes.
  10. ^ Jason Joyce (September 9, 2009). "Kelda Helen Roys wins 81st Assembly District, will replace 30-year incumbent Dave Travis". Isthmus. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  11. ^ "Gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys breastfeeds in campaign ad". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  12. ^ "Democrats say they would repeal Act 10 if they unseat Gov. Scott Walker". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  13. ^ "Our Campaigns - WI - District 02 - D Primary Race - Aug 14, 2012". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Kelda Roys joins packed field of Dems hoping to challenge Gov Scott Walker". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Round of applause for Wisconsin governor candidate who breastfed her baby during campaign ad". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Kelda Roys Breastfeeds Her Baby in Campaign Video for Governor — and Hardly Misses a Beat". Babble. 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  17. ^ "The Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for Women endorses Kelda Roys for governor". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  18. ^ "NARAL Pro-Choice America endorses Kelda Roys for governor". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Endorsements – Kelda for Governor". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  20. ^ "Wisconsin Democrats 'excited,' 'overwhelmed' by broad governor field, Roys wins straw poll". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Democrat Roys reports raising $800,000 so far". WISC. 2018-07-10. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  22. ^ Journal, Matthew DeFour | Wisconsin State. "Kelda Roys has raised $800,000 since entering governor's race". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  23. ^ DeFour, Matthew (August 14, 2018). "It's Evers: State schools superintendent to challenge Scott Walker in November". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  24. ^ Vetterkind, Riley (March 27, 2020). "Sen. Fred Risser, longest-serving lawmaker in American history, to retire". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  25. ^ "Kelda Roys to Run for State Senate" (PDF). Kelda Roys for State Senate (Press release). March 27, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020 – via The Wheeler Report.
  26. ^ Schmidt, Mitchell (August 11, 2020). "Former Rep. Kelda Roys wins 26th Senate District race". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  27. ^ "Democrats fend off veto-proof Republican majority in state elections". The Daily Cardinal. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  28. ^ "Featured Member/Ambassador for Month – Kelda Roys – Doyenne". Doyenne. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  29. ^ Marc Eisen (August 8, 2013). "Former Rep. Kelda Helen Roys launches online startup OpenHomes". Isthmus. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  30. ^ "About Us - Open Homes". Retrieved 2018-07-12.

Wisconsin State Assembly
Preceded by
David Travis
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 81st district
January 2009 – January 7, 2013
Succeeded by
Fred Clark
Wisconsin State Senate
Preceded by
Fred Risser
Member of the Wisconsin Senate from the 26th district
January 4, 2021 – present