Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Kevin Abel was 14 when he moved with his family to the U.S. in 1979. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
Abel was elected to the State Transportation Board in 2019 and represents Congressional District 6, including portions of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties. The husband, father, philanthropist and businessman is a Leadership Atlanta graduate, a former finalist for Atlanta Small Business Person of the Year and was on the Georgia Trend 40 Under 40 List. Abel serves on the board and was president of New American Pathways, a refugee resettlement nonprofit. He is active in his synagogue and in the 2020 presidential campaign.
COMING TO AMERICA Abel grew up with his mother, step-father and two brothers. In preserving childhood for her young boys, Abel’s mother protected them from the complexities of life.
I grew up in a sheltered environment, not really understanding the racial dynamics of apartheid in South Africa. After we moved to the U.S., I came to understand the injustices so prevalent in my birth country, while also realizing the similarities and differences in America.
MOM WAS HIS HERO Abel adored his mother and admired her fearlessness, which he credits with giving him the daring to take risks and face challenges that contributed to his success. My mother Maureen, who passed away more than six years ago from cancer, truly knew how to live. Her courage will always be an inspiration to me. She wasn’t afraid to do new things and take on new challenges. She would say what needed to be said, especially when others didn’t have the nerve to say it.
LOVE. AND BUSINESS. While living in Dallas and working at a consulting firm, Abel met Cindy who was employed by the same company in Atlanta.
I quit my job and followed Cindy. We married two years later. Together we founded Abel Solutions, a software consulting firm that offered business solutions with an emphasis on work-life balance. Creating that magic spot between work, family, self-actualization and community involvement is what we wanted in our company.
TRANSPORTATION AT A CROSSROADS What does Abel think about the future of transportation?
This is an especially exciting time to be on the State Transportation Board. We are certainly at a crossroads with connected vehicles. I am proud of the cutting edge work GDOT is doing in support of connected vehicle infrastructure and testing.
VALUE IN THE PROCESS Abel ran for U.S. Congress in 2018. While Lucy McBath won the Democratic nomination—and the election—Abel found value in the process.
I have always been interested in policy and politics, especially where serving the community is involved. That influenced me to run for the 2018 Democratic nomination for Congressional District 6. Though I did not win, the process afforded me many friendships and connections within the Georgia political arena. With that encouragement, I decided to seek the State Transportation Board seat for CD 6.
At GDOT’s Transportation Technology Showcase
IT’S THE JOURNEY The journey allows us to appreciate the experiences, people and choices along the way. And when given a choice—which can be hard to maneuver when we don’t recognize we have a choice—don’t settle. Life is too short to spend 50 to 80 hours a week doing something that doesn’t offer satisfaction or true reward.
IN THE FAMILY The Abels have been married 28 years and live in Sandy Springs with their puppy Lluna. They have three grown children.
Our eldest, Danielle, is pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Miami. Juliana graduated from University of Georgia with degrees in biology and psychology. And Eric is a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Abel family