The Community Place of Greater Rochester, Inc.(CPGR) is a nonprofit agency founded on the belief that everyone should enjoy the same health, economic, and social opportunities no matter who they are or where they live. Born from the merger of the Lewis Street Center, Genesee Settlement House and Eastside Community Center; The Community Place serves residents of Northeast Rochester. The organization offers a wide range of social, developmental, and educational programs delivered through facilities in the northeast sector of the city of Rochester (NY) and throughout the greater Rochester area.
Rodric Cox-Cooper has served as the Chief Executive Officer since 2016. The selection of Cox-Cooper represented the culmination of a thorough and detailed search for the best person to guide The Community Place at a time when the city of Rochester continues to deal with the issues of persistent poverty and a struggling school system.
Rodric Cox-Cooper arrived at CPGR with a blend of governmental, private sector and non-profit experience. He served in several positions for the city of Rochester from 1993 to 2005. He led Wilson Commencement Park, a human services non-profit agency that helps low-income, single-parent families transition from public assistance to financial independence and self-sufficiency.
As CEO, he leads the day-to-day operations of the organization. This includes al program, finance, corporate compliance and human resource functions, the operation of three sites and oversight for a staff of 85 people. CPGR has four operational departments: Early Childhood & Youth Development, Family & Behavioral Services, Disability Services and Aging Services.
The Community Place has been an integral part of the Rochester community for over 100 years. 10,000 individuals annually benefit from the programs and services at CPGR. Programs that include preparing children and young adults for success in school and in life with Universal Pre-Kindergarten and Foster Grandparents to after school programs that build student leaders. Their Disability Services Program provides care and activities for young people with disabilities and much needed support for their families. Family Services programs supply aid to people to meet basic needs and also help build life skills and provide emergency services in times of financial crisis. Their Aging Services programs run throughout Monroe and Livingston counties. These programs included daily opportunities for socialization, nutrition, independent living and case management services.
After spending 12 years in municipal government, we asked Rodric Cox-Cooper how that experience contributes to his career now in the non-profit sector and what he sees as the pros and cons of coming from a for-profit sector into the non-profit sector.
My experience in Rochester city government during the administration of William A. Johnson, Jr. (1994-2005) was beneficial in many ways. I built tremendous relationships around greater Rochester, New York State and beyond. I learned the many functions of government, and how to manage large operating budgets. I quickly became comfortable engaging citizens on the grassroots level and in managing all forms of public relations, including citizen interaction, and radio/print/television.
All of these aspects help me in the non-profit sector, as my work is people-centered, requires me to manage very tight budgets, and I am expected to speak for, and present the organization to the general public.
My path includes public sector (government) to private sector (financial services) to not-for-profit (human services). The pros of that transition include understanding the power of relationships. Regardless of the sector one is working in, relationships are key, and they can help make or break a potential deal or opportunity. I’ve experienced no cons in this transition.
What unique challenges and opportunities come from working in the non-profit sector?
The challenges and the rewards are many! Challenges include financial resources and support—my organization ALWAYS needs more money to provide our programs now, and in the future. Because our services are provided to a client population versus being sold to a customer, there is an ongoing need for us to generate financial resources from supporters, and prove our value. Rewards include the fact that we positively impact the lives of 10,000 people annually, and we know that we are playing a role in improving the lives of many in Rochester. When Sunday night comes around, I can’t wait to get back to the office, and do it all over again. Not many people can say that about their job assignment or career.
How has the nonprofit world and local giving community changed since you began your career?
The local giving community has become more challenged in recent years. Part of that has to do with changes in the private sector, particularly with the greatly reduced numbers of employees at large corporations like Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. There has been a shift for organizations like mine, who now must seek greater percentages of our funding from individual contributions and private foundations. The most difficult part of being the CEO of my organization is the ongoing effort to identify and secure operating funds. That will continue to be my # 1 challenge. The fight is worth it because of the outcomes. I know from our outcomes that the work we’re doing is having a positive impace on the individuals and families in our area. Not many can say that.
On a personal note, Rodric Cox Cooper’s biggest inspirations for both his career and life are his parents and children.
The fact that I would go to college and graduate were expectations set before me very early in my life, and my parents sacrificed greatly for that to happen. I’ve got to continue to make those sacrifices pay off. Regarding my children, I am modeling leadership and community involvement for them every day, and giving them a guide for their development and future contributions to society. I am excited about their path, and certain they will be world-changers!
What are your three (3) biggest accomplishments?
My biggest accomplishments are becoming a father to my two children, becoming a CEO of two different organizations and being selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by my high school alma mater, McQuaid Jesuit.
Who are some of your influences today? Why?
Aside from my family, my influences include: William A. Johnson, Jr., Dr. Frederick C. Jefferson, Jr. and Louise Woerner. Mayor Johnson is a visionary leader and as smart as he is, has never believed he had to be the smartest person in the room. That’s confidence, team-building and leadership development, simultaneously. Dr. Jefferson is one of the great relationship builders in this community, and Louise Woerner is one of the smartest leaders in town, as well as one of the most humble and caring.
Growing up, who were some of your role models?
Coming from a large extended family, my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were major influences for me. I also got involved with individual and team sports at the age of 6, and that provided significant lessons throughout my life. I learned about teamwork, goal setting, the benefit of hard work, and how to manage both winning and losing. My sports coaches were many, but they all played a role in my development: Earl Smith and Amos Postwaite (Purple Dragons karate school), Al Sette (Genesee Valley Little League baseball), Nate Fowler, Mike Swinton, Grant Talley and Tommy Dent (Baden Street Pop Warner football) and Tom Sprague (McQuaid Jesuit High School instructor and varsity football coach).
What would you like the readers of Rochester Woman Online Magazine to know about you and the Community Place?
CPGR is an incredible organization, and a stabilizing and uplifting force in this city. It is my privilege and honor to be its leader, and I invite your readers to contact me to arrange a tour of our programs with me—it’s 45 minutes that will change their life! For more information, they can visit our website at www.communityplace.org or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .