|By Ret Boney
RALEIGH, N.C. — After two decades as a voice for the poor and disenfranchised, Rob Schofield is moving on to be a voice for the nonprofit groups that serve them.
On Nov. 1, Schofield will join the N.C. Center for Nonprofits as director of public policy and government relations, leaving the North Carolina Justice Center after 13 years.
“We’re very pleased to add Rob to our staff as an advocate with deep experience in the nonprofit sector,” says Jane Kendall, president of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, a Raleigh-based network of about 1,600 nonprofit groups that works to serve, represent and strengthen the state’s nonprofit sector.
In his new position, Schofield will focus on advocating on issues affecting nonprofits’ ability to serve their communities effectively, Kendall says.
“We want the center to be a real visible credible force in public policy debates in North Carolina and at the federal level,” says Schofield. “We want to make certain that policymakers are aware of the positions of nonprofits in the state.”
Policymakers, he says, “need to know how absolutely essential nonprofits are to the overall economic and societal health of the state.”
First on Schofield’s to-do list will be getting to know the Center for Nonprofits’ member groups, he says, and familiarizing himself with the center’s agenda.
Schofield, who grew up in California in the tumultuous late 1960s and 70s, and attended UCLA while the reverberations of Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation could still be felt, says he has always been interested in the issues of the day.
“I found myself drawn to the cause of helping the underdogs, the people at the bottom of the heap,” he says.
Job: Director of public policy and government relations, N.C. Center for Nonprofits, Raleigh, effective Nov. 1
Education: B.A., history and political science, UCLA; J.D., George Washington University
Born: 1960, Cincinnati
Family: Wife, Noelle Gay Schofield; two daughters, ages 16 and 13
Hobbies: Sport “nut”; running marathon in Richmond Nov. 12
Currently reading: “A Theory of Everything,” by Ken Wilber
Inspiration: Bill Rowe, general counsel, N.C. Justice Center
Little-known fact: NASCAR enthusiast, “I root for all the old guys who are past their prime.”
|That led him to law school to get the tools he would need to make a difference in the world, he says, and he then worked with the Migrant Legal Action Program in Washington, D.C., and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
In 1992, the Justice Center’s predecessor organization, the N.C. Legal Services Resource Center, hired Schofield as its consumer and family law expert.
And when new restrictions on using federal funding for lobbying purposes began hampering the group’s advocacy efforts, Schofield was instrumental in helping the group give up its federal dollars and strike out on its own as the N.C. Justice Center.
During his tenure, Schofield helped create the group’s N.C. Budget and Tax Center, and created and wrote N.C. Policy Brief, a weekly publication on public policy issues, and This Week, a weekly update on the Center’s activities.
“In many ways, Rob has been at the center of – if not the very catalyst for – the Justice Center’s major initiatives,” Bill Rowe, general counsel for the Justice Center and its former executive director, said in a recent letter about Schofield’s departure.
“There is no doubt that Rob has been our most valuable and versatile player on a team with many valuable and versatile folks,” he wrote.
Schofield officially leaves his post as policy director for the Justice Center Oct. 31 and joins the Center for Nonprofits Nov. 1.
“It’s incredibly difficult,” Schofield says of his decision to leave. “This is like my second family – I’ve grown to adulthood here. The mission of the Justice Center will always remain a central part of my persona.”