Phillips Oppenheim

Joyce Roche
President and Chief Executive Officer, Girls Incorporated

An excerpt from a speech given at the annual Girls Incorporated Luncheon New York City, Spring 2001

"I came to Girls Inc. after 25 years in the corporate world. For many of those years I was at Avon Products here in New York City, where I enjoyed a wonderful career in marketing both in the U.S. and as Vice President of Global Marketing. After almost 19 years, I left to take on the challenge of being President and Chief Operating Officer of Carson Products in Savannah, where I helped take the company public both in the United States and Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Then I made a really enormous decision to take everything I had learned about management and marketing and apply it to a cause I care deeply about. I found Girls Incorporated, and from day one I have known it was the right choice for me. I wake up every morning stronger in my commitment to improve life for the next generation of American women.

"Having been on both sides of the great 'for-profit/not-for profit divide,' I am struck by my new sense of how an organization like Girls Inc. is viewed by the corporate world. I imagine that some people assume that my joining Girls Inc. is something like retirement. Had I not made this leap across the chasm, I too might have thought that would be the case. I might have thought that the pressures could not possibly be as extreme, the stress level as high, nor the challenges as complex.

"I am here to tell you that is not the case. In every way, this job is as demanding as any that I have held. In one way it is even more so-- and that is because of the degree of my personal investment in the Girls Inc. mission. There is so much at stake in the outcome of what we do. I have begun to understand this on a broad scale to include the work not only of Girls Inc., but also of the hundreds of thousands of not-for-profit organizations whose work makes so many lives better.

"Because of my own new awareness, I want to urge that we begin to move toward a new model of the relationship between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. We need to begin to think of the social sector as absolutely critical to the health of our nation. For too long, too many of us have had a sense that not-for-profit work is a nice thing that some people are involved in, a kind of laid-back, generous handholding kind-of-thing. In this model the business world is primary and the "charities" are the grateful secondary recipients of largesse.

"Well, we are grateful, make no mistake about that. But I'm hoping that in the future, corporate generosity can be viewed not as a handout, but as a partnership, with each of us taking on different roles, one no less important and no less vital than the other.

"This is a shift that we in the not-for-profit world need to make as well. We need to inspire the kind of confidence that comes with knowing our immense value to the communities we serve. We have to prove ourselves worthy as partners-planning, growing and managing brilliantly. And we have to have enough pride to present ourselves and our work as equal in quality and significance to that of the corporate arena.

"That is the challenge I see before all of us, and I look forward to having the opportunity to move this agenda forward."


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