Community Relations

Employee Spotlights

BCBSNC and Kidznotes help kids learn to play violin.

Robert Gofourth

Robert Gofourth is into metrics. As Vice President of Operational Strategy and Performance here at BCBSNC, he has a passion for data and what it means for the people it touches. And that's how he found Kidznotes.

Kidznotes is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the lives of students in need by helping them learn to play musical instruments like the violin or guitar – kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity. And it's been proven to help academically as well.

According to a Raleigh News & Observer interview, "The organization boasts that of the students who have spent at least a year in the program, 80 percent have scored proficient or higher in their fifth-grade end-of-grade math tests. That compares with 36 percent for their classroom peers." And that kind of data is the sort that attracts Gofourth, who told us, "It is logical and it makes sense to support an organization that has proven results like that (this is the textbook answer, right?)."

And it most certainly does make sense. But beyond that, what this nonprofit does matters on an emotional level. Gofourth was truly hooked the first time he attended one of their shows.

...I went to a Saturday morning concert and I saw the families that were touched and the enthusiasm of the children and when I saw that, I knew I had to be involved. Kidznotes makes a difference in not only the children's lives but the entire family."

Gofourth has now been on the board of directors for a year and currently serves as Vice Chair. He also serves on the fundraising committee and leads the strategic planning and governance committee.

"Kidznotes is 5 years old. Working with a newer organization can be extremely rewarding," Gofourth said. "I have been able to lead the work around the organization's Enterprise Risk Management, establish a Finance Policy and their overall Strategic Plan."

And that's putting that operational strategy expertise to work where it can make an even greater impact – on our children. Interested in more of what Kidznotes does? Check out their website.

Robert Gofourth
Vice President of Operational Strategy and Performance
Commercial Government and Service Operations
With BCBSNC since 2014
On the board of Kidznotes

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BCBSNC and TROSA help hundreds of North Carolinians face substance abuse challenges.

Stran Summers

Stran Summers wanted to be involved in his local community. And as a finance guy (Director of Corporate Tax), he needed the opportunity he chose to demonstrate good money management. Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, Inc. (TROSA), a drug rehabilitation therapy community, fit both criteria well, as it's a big part of life in Durham and a tradition for BCBSNC Finance leaders.

TROSA is not a typical rehab situation. Its website says proudly, "We help substance abusers become healthy, productive members of their communities and families." TROSA truly helps individuals in recovery by providing a multi-year residential program with treatment, job training, education and more.

Durhamites always call TROSA to pick up the furniture they want to donate, so it can be sold in the thrift store and raise money to help more people. They think of TROSA when they need lawn work, when they're moving to a new home, and even around the holidays when they're shopping for Christmas trees or need a party catered. It's part of how the people of Durham live – "Just call TROSA!"

But beyond the part it plays in the community, TROSA plays a significant role in BCBSNC Finance. Our financial staff has been on the TROSA board for over 10 years, starting with a former CFO, and they appreciate TROSA's financial strategy. As a two-year residential program, TROSA is unique in its approach and results. Residents don't pay for anything. Some money is raised through donations from individuals, businesses and foundations, and grants from government programs. But most of the operating budget comes from vocational training programs like the lawn service and thrift store. Although TROSA is based in Durham, it serves North Carolinians throughout the state and also has residents from other states.

Summers has currently served four months on the board and is a member of TROSA's Finance and Operations Committee and Audit Committee.

"I like that TROSA is able to provide its services without costs to the residents, that it is able to fund a substantial portion of its budget through its therapeutic vocational training programs and that it takes the long view to sustainable recovery through its two-year residential program." Said like a true finance guy - efficiency matters when it comes to helping people. It means more money going to the people that need it and more people helped overall.

Stran Summers
Director Corporate Tax; U65 & Small Group Segment Controller
Financial Services & Treasury/Finance
With BCBSNC since 2001
On the board of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, Inc. (TROSA)

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Partners for Youth Opportunity

Nicole Rogers

Nicole Rogers is a recent college graduate and now a mentor for teens looking ahead to college and careers. She feels she understands their challenges well, as she's not so very far in age from them.

Rogers meets with her mentee, in person, every month. Together, they check in and Rogers provides guidance to the teen who is still exploring her options for life past high school.

Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO) provides mentorship, financial literacy classes, academic support and professional development opportunities for students from 8th grade to their second year of college, who might not otherwise know what kind of options they truly have. The mentor relationship helps these students see that they have a whole world in front of them, and they really can decide what they want and go for it.

"I fell in love with Partners for Youth Opportunity after meeting with the Executive Director, Julie Wells," said Rogers. "I felt her passion for the students and how much she believed in them. I appreciated that all of the students in this organization are self-motivated, hard-working, and looking for a better future."

Rogers has been a mentor for six months now and loves it. And she's seeing results already. "So far, I've witnessed growth in the organization and within my mentee. My mentee has applied to colleges and is now deciding between schools and career paths. It's exciting to think about her next steps."

Nicole Rogers
Rotational Development Associate
Human Resources Communications and Employment Brand
With BCBSNC since 2014
Mentor with Partners for Youth Opportunity

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