Feb 15 2016
By Callie Langford
Last year Bloomerang published a list of “8 Attributes Of An Outstanding Nonprofit Board Chairman.” The top three attributes they listed were the ability to see the big picture, exuding enthusiasm, and a personal commitment to the nonprofit. Those three attributes happen to be perfect descriptors for our 2016 Board President Ben Rubenstein.
Ben sees the big picture and this was clearly a skill he developed early in life. Ben went to college at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied diplomatic history, international relations and Latin American studies. “I studied diplomacy, and that’s very important in the workplace,” said Ben of his chosen fields of study. While still in college he won a business plan competition along with three friends (including John Berkowitz who is also a CASA board member) and they were invited into the Wharton Venture Initiation Program at the University of Pennsylvania. That plan became Yodle, an online marketing firm that helps small local businesses. After just over a decade, Yodle now boasts 5 offices around the country, with around 1,400 employees and approximately 58,000 customers. In 2011 they acquired an Austin company, ProfitFuel, which ultimately brought Yodle and Ben to Texas. The acquisition of ProfitFuel connected Ben to David Rubin, a former board president and current board member, who then introduced Ben to CASA of Travis County. Yodle has been named a best place to work each of the 5 years it has been in Austin. In 2013, Ben and Yodle were named to Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list. As of Thursday it was just announced that Web.com plans to acquire Yodle for $342 million dollars.
Ben’s enthusiasm is infectious. If you attended the CASAblanca Gala earlier this month, you saw that excitement in action as he described the reasons he chose CASA as the place to volunteer his time. The stories he offers about his life give further evidence to this passion and highlight his interests. Ben has loved working with children his entire life and taught video production and media literacy to teens at the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York during college. Other fun facts about Ben are that he was featured in Lowrider Bicycle Magazine at age 12 and he has traveled across the globe (and lived for over six months in Argentina). Reviewing his career history, it is clear that his enthusiasm has taken him far, and we know it will do the same for CASA during his tenure.
Ben's feature photo from Lowrider Bicycle Magazine
When it comes to his commitment to CASA, we’re not sure Ben could be more dedicated right now. During his four year tenure on our Board of Directors, Ben has served as treasurer and vice-president. As of January Ben is our newly appointed president, and he also decided to become a CASA volunteer and work directly with our youth at the same time. Ben has always known that understanding the volunteer experience could enlighten him in analyzing important decisions for CASA. The timing worked out for him to take the training this past fall, after he left full-time operational work at Yodle behind last summer. “I felt I could be a much better president by becoming a volunteer, and be a better volunteer by knowing about the high level decisions made by the board,” said Ben. It helped that he had a training partner. Before meeting Ben in 2012, his fiancée Sara Huitt had heard about CASA from her mother, and she had also been interested in volunteering. They attended all training sessions together and completed training at the same time in December. As of last month, Ben and Sara have both been assigned to their first cases as volunteer advocates. Ben is eagerly looking forward to putting those diplomacy skills he learned back in college to work again on his case.
Over the coming year Ben will be advocating for the best interest of a teen boy. He will also be looking out for the best interests of CASA as a whole, and will enable us to speak up for well over 1,800 children throughout 2016. We are grateful to have him!
John Berkowitz and Ben Rubenstein at the CASA Superhero Run
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