United Way’s most influential giving group, the Tocqueville Society was named for Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th century French diplomat who admired the spirit of volunteerism he observed in America. Established in Northeast Florida in 1986, the society recognizes individuals and couples for their philanthropic leadership.
Robin Abbott is United Way of Northeast Florida’s chief financial officer and interim CEO. Her husband, Alberto Abbott, has served in the United States Army for more than 37 years and is a helicopter flight engineer and acting first sergeant “noncommission officer” of his detachment.
Here’s how they navigate their philanthropic and professional lives:
Robin: I “grew up in the church” and went to church all day, every Sunday (not always by choice). My mother was the leader of the missionary society within the church; and I learned both by her example and by seeing the impact of the work we did in the community, how our giving, singing, gift baskets of food, and letters to the “sick and shut in” were appreciated.
My mother always said, “never forget where you came from, because just as easily as you climb up a ladder, you can fall right back down.” I never forget her words. When and where I can help, I want to, and I do. Alberto and I give to United Way because we believe in the work. The work has a personal connection for us; and we want to contribute towards creating a community where EVERYONE has hope and can reach their full potential.
Alberto: My philosophy on giving back is contributing and volunteering my time to society in an unparalleled way, knowing my community and its citizens. Giving back to United Way is in alignment with my values as a servant to my community, diversity, equality, integrity, compassion and respect; it allows me to serve as an ambassador.
Robin: My approach to life is the Golden Rule; to live without regret; and to be unapologetically me. I truly try to treat others as I would like to be treated. I believe that when you treat other people as you would like to be treated, you cannot go wrong. I want to live the life I want to live, a life that is true to who I am; and in doing so, I reach my own happiness which I hope ripples out to those around me.
Alberto: “Great leaders are always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everyone can understand.” ~ General Colin Powell
Approach life and what you do like it’s the last thing you have to bring to the table. You’re “a game;” have fun; teach; learn; manage and use your time wisely; discipline; self-respect; pride; self-confidence; the ability to serve and serve well.
Robin: The biggest challenge of my career has been the color of my skin. In my experience, the color of my skin is often seen before my education and my experience. I have had to work harder to “prove” my capabilities and earn equal pay. The way I overcome challenges like this are: 1) the Golden Rule 2) be myself 3) be consistent and have patience. I have a strong belief that what God has for me is for me and what is not is not. The rest will take care of itself.
Alberto: Problems with military practices and culture were the most pressing. When asked which problem dominates the most pressing, I would say issues regarding soldiers’ work and life, balancing my soldier’s own well-being, healthcare system problems, relationship problems, and of course, deployments. I’ve overcame these challenges with what we called in the Army NCODP (Non-Commissioned Officer Developmental Program) it’s to educate and develop Army NCOs (Noncommissioned Officers) for positions of greater responsibility, life and hurdles, monthly. It is my responsibility as a Senior NCO with this organization and the applicable Army regulations to conduct and manage this program successfully.
To learn more about Tocqueville Society and how you get involved, contact Jackie Hadley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904-330-3952.