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Cokie Roberts: 'I'm Constantly Amazed at the Goodness of People'

Gale Curcio
By Gale Curcio
Posted on Oct 28,2009
Filed Under News , Community,
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Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks<br /> <br />John Porter, executive director of the Alexandria Community Trust, with broadcaster Cokie Roberts and Allison Cryor DiNardo, who introduced Roberts at last Wednesday's ACT for Alexandria's Annual Nonprofit Excellence Forum.<br />
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
John Porter, executive director of the Alexandria Community
Trust, with broadcaster Cokie Roberts and Allison Cryor
DiNardo, who introduced Roberts at last Wednesday's
ACT for Alexandria's Annual Nonprofit Excellence Forum.

ALEXANDRIA, VA - As a student in a local Catholic grammar school, Emmy Award winning broadcast news journalist Cokie Roberts said the idea of giving back was constantly drilled into her.

“We felt like we were going straight to hell if we didn’t give back,” Roberts said in her opening remarks at the ACT for Alexandria's Annual Nonprofit Excellence Forum last Thursday.
 

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks<br /> <br />“I am constantly amazed at the incredible goodness of people,” Roberts said. “The people who have come through New Orleans is one of the most incredible, heart rending things you'll ever see.”
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
“I am constantly amazed at the incredible
goodness of people,” Roberts said. “The
people who have come through New Orleans
is one of the most incredible, heart rending
things you'll ever see.”

While she may joke about it, however, it’s easy to see that doing good for others would have been a part of her personality no matter what school she attended. She spoke poignantly about the work that has and continues to be done in New Orleans following the destruction done by Katrina.

“I am constantly amazed at the incredible goodness of people,” Roberts said. “The people who have come through Nee Orleans is one of the most incredible, heart-rending things you'll ever see.”

Given her background, it is also clear that Roberts would not be somebody who would sit on the sidelines. The third child and youngest daughter of former ambassador and long-time Democratic Congresswoman from Louisiana Lindy Boggs and of the late Hale Boggs, her sister, the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund, was mayor of Princeton, NJ and a candidate for the United States Senate from New Jersey. Her brother, Tommy Boggs, is a prominent DC lawyer-lobbyist.

As a bestselling author and political commentator for National Public Radio and ABC News, Roberts said she parlays her visibility into helping special causes like the Alexandria Community Trust. Roberts, a contributing senior news analyst for National Public Radio as well as a regular roundtable analyst for the current This Week with George Stephanopoulos, said she is especially interested in women’s roles and relationships throughout American history. “In history, many things don’t change,” she told the audience.

Roberts, 66, talked about the “Ladies of Liberty” who lobbied to incorporate orphanages in the late early 19th century. She mentioned Dolly Madison and Louise Adams as pioneers in this effort.

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks<br /> <br />“We felt like we were going straight to hell if we didn’t give back,” Roberts said.
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
“We felt like we were going straight to hell
if we didn’t give back,” Roberts said.

“Think of how public and political this was for women who couldn’t even own property at the time,” she said. “The focus of women was to take care of children.”

Taking care of children is more important than ever, she said. “ACT’s Giving Circle is very important – there are 1100 cases of child abuse locally. Women are giving more, but giving differently. They are not interested in their names carved in stone or tax deductions. They are interested in efficiency and want it [their money] to work.”
 
Roberts said she was very impressed with ACT’s Community Assessment Report, which offers key insights into community needs and shares strategic cross-cutting recommendations, as well as opportunities within ages and stages and locations in Alexandria.

She closed her presentation with comments about the importance of advocacy. “All of us can advocate in one way or another. Advocacy absolutely works.”
 
Afterwards, the 175 nonprofit leaders and staff gathered at First Baptist Church learned about three new leadership skills and opportunities, offered as break out sessions. The first, “Contingency Planning…What to Do When Things Don’t Go According to Plan,” prepared leaders to adapt to changing circumstances and better communicate these changes to their stakeholders while remaining true to their mission, said John Porter, ACT for Alexandria's executive director.
 
The second session, “The Future of Fundraising…Mobilizing People and Resources for Change,” provided attendees with ways to combine new technologies with traditional fundraising methods to capture a broader audience of future donors, critical given today’s increasing needs.  
 
“Creating a Caring Community…A Case Study in Engaging Alexandrians” served as the launch for a new initiative between ACT for Alexandria and Lotsa Helping Hands, a national care giving service.  "This session provided attendees with a new interactive web tool to better engage their organizations and the community to assist friends, family members, and others in need of assistance," Porter said.

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks<br /> <br />Last Wednesday, 175 nonprofit leaders and staff came to First Baptist Church to learn about three new leadership skills and opportunities, offered as break out sessions, according to ACT's executive director John Porter.
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
Last Wednesday, 175 nonprofit leaders and
staff came to First Baptist Church to learn
about three new leadership skills and
opportunities, offered as break out
sessions, according to ACT's executive
director John Porter.

The events of the day closed with a networking lunch and ACT capacity grant training for nonprofits interested in submitting an application for an ACT for Alexandria capacity grant.

Those in attendance found the day’s presentations informative and valuable.  Lorraine Friedman, executive director of the Alexandria-based DreamDog Foundation found the forum to be “just what we [The DreamDog Foundation] needed to get kids and parents moving and energized to make a difference in the current economy,” while Courtney Kissell with The Reading Connection indicated that she has attended the Nonprofit Forum for the past three years and found it to be “an extremely valuable professional development experience.” 
 
Feedback from others in attendance indicated a desire for more extensive follow-up sessions and training in the areas of fundraising and the Lotsa Helping Hands initiative.  "ACT is working to determine how this might be provided to those who have expressed such an interest," Porter said.
 
Nonprofit leaders and board members are encouraged to attend the upcoming Alexandria Board Leadership Exchange event on Thursday, November 5, from 7-9:30 a.m. The session, "From Good to Great:  Assessing Your Board’s Effectiveness," will teach the components and process for an effective assessment of an organization’s board. Attendees may register at www.ablealex.org.  

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks<br /> <br />Porter, Roberts and DiNardo at last Wednesday's ACT for Alexandria's Annual Nonprofit Excellence Forum.<br />
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
Porter, Roberts and DiNardo at last
Wednesday's ACT for Alexandria's
Annual Nonprofit Excellence Forum.

For more information about the Nonprofit Forum and other ACT for Alexandria programs and initiatives, go to www.actforalexandria.org or call the ACT office at 703-739-7778.









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