The genesis of what would become The De Novo Foundation of San Antonio can be found in words spoken about 2,000 years ago: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luke 12:48).
Those words made an indelible impression on Robert Ober and throughout much of his life, he has interceded to help those in need. Robert’s philanthropy is deeply rooted in his faith.
“Encouraging those who can to help those who will.”
Over the years, Robert has worked to provide support and care to countless numbers of people in need. His efforts did not go unnoticed by his friends, family members, fellow parishioners or business associates. Encouraged by the idea of starting a foundation, Robert contemplated the idea of providing next level care to people living below the poverty line.
Questions needed to be answered, such as:
- What could be done to help a person from becoming homeless?
- Could help be offered to a homeless person that might change his or her life in such a way that they would no longer be homeless and also live with stability?
- What could be done to help provide stability for someone who is newly emerging from homelessness?
A foundation seemed the logical next step; a collaboration of experience and philanthropy that could help mitigate the risks of homelessness. The new foundation would be called “De Novo,” a Latin expression meaning “starting from the beginning; anew” and the tagline was crafted: “Encouraging those who can to help those who will.”
By April 2015, the De Novo Foundation had its Executive Director and the process of building a viable non-profit was started. The first order of business was to define the opportunities for the new foundation.
Approximately 20% of San Antonians live below the poverty level. For a city of roughly 1.6 million residents, that works out to about 320,000 people who are struggling to make ends meet. It would be unrealistic to think a small, new nonprofit could cure poverty, or even make a dent in the staggering statistics. A realistic goal would be to make a difference in one person’s life and then establish a model that could be replicated. The De Novo Foundation model would have to be flexible; proactively helping people in need before their lives spun out of control and reactively responding to the needs of people emerging from lost livelihoods, broken homes and battles with addiction.
The De Novo Foundation of San Antonio aims to help the person who may have hit hard times, but has the desire and the demonstrated capacity to help themselves; a person who may be struggling, yet can clearly articulate their vision for a better future. We are grateful to be part of this wonderful community and look forward to building enduring bonds of friendship.
Lee Richardson Executive Director
Lee Richardson is a native Texan who was grateful to move back to her home state after retiring from QVC in West Chester, PA in 2005. A graduate of North Texas State University, (now the University of North Texas at Denton) Lee has spent most of her career in the field of marketing for major retail chains. Lee and Board President Robert Ober met in a Stephen Ministry class and that lead to her employment by his company, Plant Architects+Plant Outfitters. One of her responsibilities was the administrative aspect of Robert’s numerous charitable endeavors. Eventually, Lee became a founding Board member of De Novo and stepped into the Executive Director’s seat in August.
Robert Ober Board President
Robert Ober is CEO & Founder of Robert Ober & Associates, LLC, and its enterprises. Robert is a mechanical engineer, noted industrial designer, author, and is considered a leading authority on bulk materials storage and handling. He has multiple patents for commercially viable cement and aggregate devices and machinery. His specialty is industrial plant and systems design and design-build turnkey construction services for the oil & gas, mining, and construction material industries. Robert Ober’s holding company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with employees and offices located throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.
George Block Boardmember
George Block is currently serving as President of the World Swimming Coaches Association and Chair Emeritus of both San Antonio Sports and Voices for Children San Antonio. From 2009-2012, Mr. Block was COO, then CEO of Haven for Hope, San Antonio’s transformational homeless center. Under Mr. Block’s leadership, Haven developed its In-House Recovery Program (IHRP), a self-contained recovery and rehab program for homeless men and women. Based on that model, he initiated the development of a Mental Health Dorm, where homeless patients could receive daylong, outpatient mental health treatment and support. The bulk of Block’s career was spent in education and athletics, where he had a Hall of Fame career. In 2011, Block was inducted in to the American Swimming Coaches Hall of Fame; in 2012, he was awarded the United States Olympic Committee’s “Rings of Gold” award and he is a 2016 inductee into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Block is married to Margie, a retired nurse. They have three children, Meagan, a Family Law Attorney; Jeremy, a teacher and coach; and Jackson, a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering.
Dr. Virginia Moody Boardmember
Dr. Virginia Moody is a highly skilled “people specialist” with 30+ years of expertise in the field of people development, employee engagement, customer relationships, and executive/life/business and career coaching. What distinguishes her from others in her field is that she treats human connectedness as critical fun opportunities to move people and organizations from “mission and vision” to purpose, significance and passion. Virginia has a special interest in personal and professional branding and she believes the road to success is trying. Based in San Antonio, Texas, she serves major businesses, small business, colleges/universities, nonprofits and individuals. She is determined to uncover the secrets of how successful people and companies communicate and build internal and external relationships. A lifelong learner, she volunteers in her community in an effort to connect and address the needs of the people. A wife for 44 years, three adult children and 2 grandchildren, with the help of her family she has a Doctorate in Adult Education, dual Masters in Business Management and Human Resource Management, and a Bachelors in Vocational Education/Curriculum Design.
Victoria Reyna Boardmember
Victoria Reyna graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a concentration in Public Relations, in August 2015. She is currently an Account Manager at Sammis & Ochoa, a locally owned and operated public relations firm. Victoria has gained experience working on both non-profit and corporate accounts of various industries including the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, Morningside Ministries, the City of San Antonio, BIG RED DOG Engineering and more, as well as serving as an administrator and communications specialist for the UTSA All-State Choir Camp. She first found her passion for public relations by utilizing her writing expertise, media relations, community outreach, and creative storytelling to help clients share their own stories, which she believes is the most important aspect of public relations. Throughout her college career, Victoria stayed involved in organizations that both gave her the experience she needed for life after graduation and helped her stay connected with her passions – writing, making music, and living life to the fullest. She was a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America for three years, during which she served as the organization’s Historian, Webmaster, and Fundraising Chair. She also served as President of the Theta Gamma chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, an International Music Fraternity for Women. She led the chapter in efforts to raise over $1,000 to provide ipods and personalized music playlists to members of the San Antonio community suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The organization won a national award for their service project under her leadership. Victoria has a passion for helping others. Her personal mission in life is to positively impact everyone she meets.