Co-Founder Bill Rohs recently answered a few questions about what it means to reach our three-year anniversary,
February 28, 2017.
How does it feel for you to have completed three full years of work with emBOLDen Alliances?
Rohs: It’s pretty amazing that three years has gone by so quickly. We have come so far as a small organization and done so much work. We have put a tremendous effort and team together. We are able to reach across the world to do programs and trainings, and to get people the tools that they need to succeed. That’s been always the driving force for us from the beginning. It’s great to witness that “Aha Moment” with our partners when they figure something out. Then it’s theirs. They own it, and they can move forward with it. Three years! And we look forward to what’s next.
What are some broad lessons that you have learned in working with emBOLDen over the years?
Rohs: One lesson I have learned through emBOLDen is really how much of a struggle it is to get a nonprofit off the ground. We were trying to do something that hasn’t been done before. Maybe it hasn’t been done for a reason, but we see this as the new way nonprofits should be working – they should be catering to the communities’ needs, not the other way around. The movement is gaining momentum; we’re starting to align with the people that think like us and act like we act, and that’s really helping us move forward.
“We see emBOLDen as a way of working toward a collective good that prioritizes
the people we work with, instead of ourselves or our organization.”
Why is emBOLDen’s work important to continue doing?
Rohs: I think emBOLDen’s work is important because it puts the voice of the community first. It taps into the resources and the talent of the community first. Without that input, I don’t think you can have a deeply effective program. As the old saying goes, the developing world is littered with the debris of successful development projects. When a development project is done by people from outside the community, the communities’ voices are often not heard, their ideas are not incorporated, and they may not know how to fix the project when it breaks. By incorporating communities first, and by giving them the education and tools they need to succeed, community development becomes their own project, and if it breaks, they fix it. I’ve seen the power from within the communities and its members.
What does it mean to you to have co-founded this nonprofit that has bloomed into what it is today?
Rohs: We’re working to make a difference in the world, and this is the way we do it. We see emBOLDen as a way of working toward a collective good that prioritizes the people we work with, instead of ourselves or our organization. That means a lot. It’s not about what we’ve done. It’s about what we see our partners doing.
Can you talk a little bit more about not being self-centered in your work?
Rohs: We’ve got to take a step back and really understand that we are working for the greater good of all of us. The greater good is not in this country, and it’s not in another country. It is everywhere, because we live in one global community. If there is someone else suffering, somebody else is going to feel the consequences of that suffering, and that suffering will continue. We have to work on addressing it on every level — together.