Bob Kerr (born July 14, 1945) is an American journalist. For more than forty years, he was a reporter and columnist for The Providence Journal, a Pulitzer Prize-winning publication and the nation's oldest continuously published daily newspaper.
Robert Kerr was born in Cortland, New York to his parents, who were both teachers. He lived in New York until his late teens when his family moved to Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Kerr graduated from Grosse Pointe University School. He served for two years in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War as a war correspondent. He later worked for The Detroit Free Press and The Charlotte Observer. Kerr graduated from Hamilton College as an English major.
Career at The Providence Journal
Bob Kerr was the Journal's metro columnist for the last 20 years of his career of four decades. He routinely covered community stories, public interest stories, as well as profiles of individuals that were often overlooked by Providence society in everyday life.
Kerr was unceremoniously forced to retire as Belo Corporation was in the process of being purchased by GateHouse Media (now Gannett) in 2014 during a slew of lay-offs as the paper transferred ownership and Dave Butler became the Journal's Executive Editor.
Nicholas Alahverdian columns
From 2002 until 2011, Kerr reported on the efforts of Nicholas Alahverdian, a Rhode Island government state employee who was also in the care of the state's troubled Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families and its night-to-night program. Kerr detailed Alahverdian's efforts as an insider who informed lawmakers of the abuse and negligence that was ensuing in Rhode Island group homes. In 2011, Kerr later exposed how Alahverdian was sent out of state to Nebraska and Florida where he was allowed no contact with anyone shortly after the early media coverage, and was left there until his 18th birthday. Of Alahverdian's time in the night-to-night program, Kerr wrote that "He was put in night-to-night placement by the Department of Children, Youth and Families, a practice so hideously abusive and stifling that it would seem better fit to a Charles Dickens novel than to 21st century Rhode Island."
Kerr also wrote that "[Alahverdian] has always suspected that he was sent out of state because he was so outspoken about the horrors of night-to-night placement. He had been a page and an aide at the Rhode Island State House before his exile, and he was not reluctant to point out the hard lessons learned from his DCYF experience."
In Kerr's final article on Alahverdian, Kerr wrote that "through intelligence and sheer will, he is now at Harvard. He knows that Cambridge is a much healthier place for him to be than anywhere in Rhode Island. Regardless of what happens in federal court or at the State House, Alahverdian has left his mark. Night-to-night placement has been ended forever. And Manatee Palms, the Florida facility where Alahverdian experienced so much abuse, is no longer used by DCYF. Alahverdian, I have to believe, had something to do with those changes."