Board Spotlight -- Chris Robinson, President

Get to Know RPCV/W Board Directors & Committee Members!
Name: Chris Robinson
Country of Service: Jamaica
Home State: Florida

Why did you join the board?

Shortly after my move to DC, I joined a subcommittee of RPCV/W for a major event they were planning to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. Having glimpsed the inner-sanctum of RPCV/W, I had to learn more. What great conversation was I missing? What epic debates were happening that I could not join? So I stuck around, achieved our fundraising goals with the 50th committee and stood for election as Development Director in 2011.

What is your favorite board memory?

September 25, 2011. After nearly a year of planning, RPCV/W put on the most ambitious event in its history: hosting 5,000 people in a star-studded ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery and then leading them across the Memorial Bridge in a Parade of Flags all the way to the National Mall.

Our day started at dawn. I had to pick up three donated rental minivans in Rockville and get them to Arlington, so I shanghaied my Peace Corps Jamaica brother Matt and my now fiancé Danielle to assist in this endeavor, as they were at the time, and still are, my most trusted associates. After picking up boxes of programs from a local printer, we spent the next few hours setting up, distributing supplies and ferrying VIPs and persons with mobility issues to the amphitheater. Things started off a little shaky when we lost the Duke Ellington Chorus and a couple diplomats in the cemetery, but the volunteers did their jobs and the event went as planned, and was a fitting tribute to 50 years of Peace Corps, and those involved are now some of my closest friends.

What is your favorite thing about serving on the board?

Serving on the RPCV/W board puts me in a position to help the RPCV community just as it helped me. I did not know very many people when I came to DC, and I was worried that I would not be able to compete in such a fast-paced environment. I did not feel comfortable networking or asking for help, but that changed when I started exploring RPCV/W. As a board member, my favorite thing is turning outsiders into insiders.

I personally benefited from navigating RPCV/W’s growing social media communities and turning those connections into real-world relationships that shaped my professional and social lives, so I enjoy making those resources stronger and more accessible to members. I love when members contact us with requests for introductions to RPCVs working in a particular field, or to share info with those who served in a certain country.

I also love being part of a team of dedicated leaders and seeing them work. The board changes each year, bringing new perspectives and ideas. Directors learn the history and ways of the organization, but since everyone is equal in terms of organizational power, we all work as a team but have flexibility and autonomy.

What would you tell other people who are interested in joining the board?

1. Do your homework. Check out the member surveys and annual reports from recent years to get a clear picture of what RPCV/W actually is. Review our past events and blog posts to see what we’ve done and how we contextualized it. Most importantly, if you have a question about our members, go to the source and post it in our Facebook Group.

2. Prepare to work, fail and learn. The RPCV/W board is a working board and all Directors are expected not just to chip in, but to lead meetings, run events, correspond with stakeholders and attend every activity they can. Things won’t always work out, and you may have to learn some new tricks, but if you put in the effort, RPCV/W will be stronger for it.

3. Show up, pay attention, be honest with yourself and the group's expectations, and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.