Robert J. Ford has led the Georgia chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to new heights in membership and local partnerships. NOBLE seeks to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, and Robert has been instrumental in convening stakeholders, local companies and even celebrities to discuss ideas to make that possible and drive the organization forward.

For this commitment, he’s been named Nationwide’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year.

Robert was a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation before becoming a major case consultant for Nationwide’s Special Investigation Unit seven years ago. He’s been involved with NOBLE for 26 years and currently serves as a region III vice president for the nonprofit’s chapters in eight states and three countries.

Under his leadership, the Georgia chapter has finished in the top three in member recruitment on multiple occasions and won chapter of the year. And Robert not only recruits members; he ensures they remain active in NOBLE’s initiatives. He’s personally trained members to present its “Law and Your Community” course curriculum and has doubled attendance at the annual NOBLE state training conference, which he coordinates, generating more than $70,000 in scholarships to deserving youth.

But it wasn’t until he got fully integrated into the organization that he realized how much it really does, for both youth and the community.

“We’re teaching young people how to engage and interact with law enforcement, often by working side by side in community projects such as feeding the homeless, collecting coats and shoes for the needy, cleaning neighborhoods, building houses and beautification projects,” says Robert, who often volunteers with his 8-year-old son RJ. “It’s one of our hallmark initiatives and part of the member initiation curriculum to help us achieve our mission across the country.”

Get started giving back

Robert’s advice for anyone unsure of how to give back?

“Look for organizations in your community doing good work that inspires you or see what’s needed and start your own organization to fulfill that need,” he says. “Everyone has a place where they can give back to others. It’s a matter of where your heart leads you.”

In honor of his award, Robert receives two days of paid time off and NOBLE will receive a $5,000 grant in his name. Nine honorees for the award will receive one day of paid time off and a $1,000 grant for their organization.

About our Volunteer of the Year Award

Every day, Nationwide associates across the country dedicate their personal time to organizations and causes that are important to them. Nationwide encourages this commitment within its culture and every year, we solicit their stories and choose one as our Volunteer of the Year.