Local Leader to Attend International Conference for Nonprofits in Russia
The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Posted on December 12, 2004
By R. Lynn Barnes
Of 90 nominees, Roybal was selected as one of five leaders from the United States to present at the Open World Alumni Conference on Non-governmental Organization Development held in Moscow, Russia, this weekend.
The conference is part of the Open World program authorized by Congress in 1999 to support Russia's efforts to strengthen democratic reforms. The purpose of the conference is to provide a place to discuss how Russia's nongovernmental organizations can work more effectively to address community needs.
The mission of the Open World program is to bring emerging Russian leaders to communities across the United States to demonstrate how governmental entities, nongovernmental organizations and businesses work. While most Open World programs have been hosted in the United States, this year representatives from American NGO's will meet with their counterparts in Russia and share their experiences in management and development.
Melinne Owen volunteers with the Santa Fe Council on International Relations and is the former coordinator of the Council's International Visitor program. When an associate in Washington, D.C., contacted her about the upcoming conference, she was quick to nominate Roybal.
"I knew of her through another project, and she seemed like the right kind of person for this event," says Owen. "She has experience with NGOs and has done workshops, has an education background and recently completed her doctorate in nonprofit management. I was very impressed with her."
Roybal grew up near Santa Cruz, where she lived until moving to Espanola four years ago. She has been the program director at Santa Fe Community Foundation for the past four years, "I learn more about working in and with the nonprofit sector every day," Roybal says. "I am very passionate about the nonprofit sector, because I believe it is closest to the community in terms of issues and needs."
In her 25-plus years in nonprofits, Roybal also has been an executive director at Women's Health Services in Santa Fe, a director and assistant dean at the College of Santa Fe, and a teacher of nonprofit management at the college and at New Mexico Highlands University.
"Going to this conference is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me," says Roybal. "Even though I am going as a presenter, I know that I will learn from them as well. I am always trying to improve the services we provide, so this is just another opportunity to learn how my counterparts deal with typical problems in their country."
Each of the presenters will conduct a daylong concurrent session on one of five subthemes, including youth issues, social services, women as leaders, environment or health. Then the participants will meet together for the second day's sessions. Fifty participants from the 13 regions in and around Moscow were expected to attend the sessions.
Roybal's session will cover organizational development of social- service organizations, including mission development, marketing, strategy and leadership.
"Nonprofits deliver much of the hospital care, higher education, social services, cultural entertainment, employment and training, low-income housing, community development and emergency-aid services available in our country," she says. That includes half the nation's hospitals, one-third of its health clinics and more than a quarter of its nursing homes, she explains.
Nonprofits also account for nearly half of higher-education institutions, 80 percent of individual- and family-service agencies, 70 percent of vocational-rehabilitation facilities, 30 percent of day-care centers and more than 90 percent of orchestras and operas, and they are the delivery vehicle for 70 percent of foreign-disaster assistance, according to Roybal.
"In the advocacy role, nonprofits give voice to social, political, environmental, ethnic and community interest and concerns," Roybal explains. "Most of the social movements that have animated American life over the past century or more operated in and through the nonprofit sector. Examples are anti-slavery, women's suffrage, civil rights, anti-war, women's and gay rights."
From her experience managing nonprofits, Roybal says fund raising is always an ongoing concern. "What I learned by serving as an executive director is that it is an impossible job," she says. More funders give to programs than to general operating needs, she explains. But as costs increase, funding is often more difficult to secure, and the increased scrutiny and increased accountability requirements are an added burden.
"Many nonprofits lack the necessary infrastructure (technology, systems, facilities, etc.) to deal with all the requirements and expectations demanded of them," Roybal says. "It's like wanting an automatic dishwasher in a house with no plumbing."
The Santa Fe Council on International Relations organizes lectures and a program for U.S. State Department-sponsored international visitors, working with the National Council of International Visitors to arrange appointments, home hospitality and cultural events for them.
Last year, CIR hosted 300 international visitors from the State Department and the Library of Congress, including a group of Japanese government officials. Two hundred of them were attendees at a State Department conference for the Office of International Visitors Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Santa Fe.
The council is a volunteer-based organization with one staff person and 800 local members.
The group will host a follow-up presentation on the Moscow conference from Roybal in January. For more information on CIR, call 982-4931.
[Reprinted with Permission]