Rob Hemphill, Program Coordinator at Community Energy Project and NOVAA Board President
How long have you been a member of NOVAA and why did you get involved?
I've been a member for 2 years, since I moved to Portland and got my current job in volunteer management. I was familiar with DOVIA in other cities.
How long have you been working with volunteers?
Over 5 years, in a number of different capacities. I've been a community organizer and campaign worker, I've worked in a service-learning office, and as a volunteer coordinator.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Volunteer Coordinator?
The challenge that I find most difficult –and frustrating– is being seen only as a support role for other programs and staff. Without the authority and responsibility to build the most effective volunteer program, I have had to turn away offers to volunteer and leave capacity on the table. I believe strongly that in order to tackle the pressing issues our organizations work for, we need everyone to be involved, and need to be nimble and creative to find a way for that to work.
What have you been able to take from NOVAA workshops or trainings and apply to your work?
I find all of NOVAA's programming to be incredibly relevant! Last year's Diversity and Volunteerism workshop was fantastic, and started a great process for looking internally at NOVAA's own equity and diversity work. Liza Dyer's Learning Community about your online presence was timely and relevant. And every happy hour, I'm meeting someone new and our conversations are fascinating and motivating and it makes me happy. Our members have so many great ideas to offer.
How long have you been a NOVAA Board Member?
I joined the board this past year, and have been serving as the Membership Chair.
What is the most fulfilling part of being a NOVAA Board Member?
I think NOVAA is a critical organization to promote and improve this field, and it's great to be able to set the stage for this. I'm really excited by our existing work and our potential. I'd love for NOVAA to continue the work of advocating for and professionalizing this field.
Anything else you would like to share with current and prospective NOVAA members?
Everything NOVAA accomplishes is because of you, the NOVAA members. It's NOVAA members who volunteer to put on our workshops, our learning communities, and happy hours. It's you being a member that helps fund these programs. Thank you to you and everyone who invests in this organization!
What is an interesting tidbit we may not know about you?
You can call me Rob, Robert, or Bobby, but not Robby –and definitely not Bert! Additionally, I enjoying singing, and biking, and sometimes you can hear me singing while biking. No seriously, I was biking home from trivia one night, going along the Esplanade singing Hamilton at the top of my voice, only to hear this couple sitting discretely on a bench burst out laughing at me. Surely I must have been a sight to see.
Any words of wisdom, or a favorite quote, for people who are new to the field?
"Everyone brings part of the solution," is a quote I learned from a mentor in Minnesota. To me, that speaks a lot about the our work, in that everyone brings something when they volunteer, and we get to help unlock that, help find the best way for that person to effectively live out their values and vision for their community.