Press Releases

SOMERSET, KY -- Today, U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) announced that the Director of Operation UNITE, Karen Kelly will be joining his Fifth Congressional District Staff as District Director effective May 15, 2013. Concurrently, Rogers' District Director, Chris Girdler is announcing his transition to the private sector, while continuing to serve as State Senator for the 15th Senate District of Kentucky.

"This announcement is bittersweet," said Rogers. "Chris Girdler has served as an effective and capable director of my district operations, and he has shown himself to be in command of the issues and concerns of our region and a tireless advocate for our people. I wish him the best with this new opportunity, as well as his role as State Senator. I have no doubt we'll continue to work closely to improve the lives of southern and eastern Kentuckians."

"Fortunately, Karen Kelly has graciously agreed to step into this role and continue the great work of Bob Mitchell, Chris Girdler and the entire staff. Karen has demonstrated tremendous leadership at the helm of the PRIDE program, Operation UNITE, and most recently in coordination of the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit. I am confident her tenacity will shine through as we face tough economic challenges and work to create more jobs, healthier communities, economic development and educational opportunities."

A Pulaski County native, Chris Girdler has served Rogers in various capacities over the past six years in addition to acting as a board member for both the Center for Rural Development and the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. On November 6, 2012, Girdler was elected State Senator for the 15th District of Kentucky.

"Congressman Rogers has provided unbelievable opportunities to serve and execute his vision over the years and I will always be indebted to him. Our friendship has never been stronger," said Girdler.  "For my family and me, this new opportunity in the private sector is exciting and it will allow me extend my passion for creating jobs and making critical investments in the future of southern and eastern Kentucky. Along with my new role in public service as State Senator, I am eager to work with my hometown region in a greater capacity. "

Karen Kelly returns to Rogers' office after 14 years. During that gap, Kelly effectively led the PRIDE program, an effort to improve the environment and waterways of southern and eastern Kentucky.  In 2003, Kelly helped launch and even name, Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment, and Education), a regional anti-drug initiative culminating most recently in two consecutive successful, National Rx Drug Abuse Summits. Originally from Elkhorn City, Kentucky, Kelly served as a Field Representative for the 5th Congressional District in the mid 90's.

"Congressman Rogers is an extraordinary leader and I am humbled by his faith in me to shepherd his district operation," said Kelly.  "Chris and Bob are dear friends and have done an excellent job executing Congressman Rogers’ tremendous vision for our region and I look forward to doing my part to extend that vision. In working with UNITE and PRIDE, I've learned the value of partnerships and working across city, county and state boundaries. As we look foward with unity, I hope to continue those friendships as we work together for a better southern and eastern Kentucky. "

To download a photo of Karen Kelly, visit:

Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information, visit or follow Rogers on Twitter!/RepHalRogers or on Facebook!/CongressmanHalRogers.