Dr. Robert K. Ross spoke to CSUN faculty, students, and community members this Wednesday evening about the importance of non-profit organizations in the community.
Ross’ speech, which took place in the USU Theater, was a part of the “2010 Envisioning California Lecture” and centered on the social change that can happen when non-profits use the right strategies to grow.
“The America that got us to where we are now took boldness, action and risk and we just don’t see that right now,” Ross said.
He emphasized the point that government will not be getting anyone out of the tangle of issues that the country now faces. He added that the non-profit sector, combined with financial investments, is one of the few places that ideas will truly be established and nurtured.
“If we’re waiting for someone to ride in on a white horse to fix this for us, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’re not going to see the kind of leadership from D.C. or Sacramento that’s going to get us out of this.”
Since 2000, Ross has been the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of The California Endowment, a health foundation established to address the health needs of Californians. In the past, Ross has worked across the U.S. as a clinician and public health administrator, from Philadelphia to San Diego.
CSUN President Jolene Koester introduced Ross to the crowd, praising him for his dedication.
“What Dr. Ross brings is his commitment to human beings (…) and to people who need help in improving their quality of life,” Koester said.
When one of the audience members asked him about the problem that organizations have in scaling up, Ross suggested employing story-telling methods.
As an example, he pointed to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and their ability to bring about change by telling compelling anecdotes.
Ross said when pushing an idea for social change, a person must use both stories and data, because one without the other does not make a convincing argument.
He added entrepreneurs must recognize the politics of power that exist and to appeal to the left and right side of legislators’ brains.
The crowd was made up of a mix of students, faculty, and various members of the community.
Kaylynn Dall, 23, who recently received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from CSUN, attended the speech because it was a requirement for the Parenting and Child Interaction research clinic that she is a part of.
“I really liked it,” Dall said. “The second half was when I really started getting what he was saying, because the whole non-profit side of it is where we’re focusing.”