Robert Gore, MD

Founder and Executive Director, KAVI

How old is your organization? 10 years
What sector do you work in? Community Engagement, Violence Prevention and Intervention
How long have you been working in this sector? Since 2005
How long have you been with your current organization? Since it was founded

If you have worked with CRE in some capacity, what impact did it have?
CRE helped KAVI do a strategic plan to improve everything from impact, organizational workflow, to board engagement. It was very helpful and we are still implementing the recommended strategies.

What has been the greatest challenge in your sector over the last 40 years?
Starting the work. Many of us have always known what the problems are but have a hard time implementing them. I work as a full time Emergency Physician at Kings County and SUNY Downstate Hospitals. I wondered how I would take on an issue like community violence while working a full time job. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best and most perfect approach to do the community work that was influencing my patients, but I was just talking about the problem. I was more concerned about how it was going to look instead of actually doing the work. I spent a few years researching the problem and trying to find support. Once we decided to launch KAVI’s programming with no money, the help we needed began appearing.

What is the single greatest challenge you face today in your sector?
Collaboration. There is so much work to do but funding is limited. It is necessary to work alongside other groups. However, it is important that the groups realize that the efforts require collaboration rather than looking at one another as competition.

What opportunities exist now for nonprofits to break through into success that did not exist 40 years ago?
Access to diversified funding streams.

What will nonprofits need to do to remain relevant and necessary to their clients over the next 40 years?
Nonprofits need to be created and run as businesses with identifiable and implementable services that can be used as revenue generating streams. The donation and handout model is fading away and if the business models of nonprofits don’t evolve, their profound missions will soon die out.

Why did you want to serve in your current role?
I became an emergency physician out of interests in medicine, critical care, and trauma. I didn’t apply for the position to be the Executive Director, it just happened. I founded our organization out of a need to improve the quality of lives of people affected by violence and trauma. I’d seen so many deaths as a physician working in Chicago and Brooklyn that doing work with violence, conflict, and health disparities was its own form of therapy.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in your career?
Challenges are the norm with our work. However, in July of 2015, one of my mentees, Willis Young, also a staff member, was stabbed and killed. I struggled a lot with his death and didn’t want to do the work anymore. The same things I was feeling were the exact things that our patients and clients were experiencing, making the work we were doing even more real. We were working on helping others heal from trauma, but after Willis died we recognized that it was just as important for us to heal, rather than doing this work to mask our own individual deep-seeded trauma.

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