Before joining Points of Light, he was appointed Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This office, established under President Carter, was sustained in each administration since. Though housed in the Department of Education and reporting to the Secretary of Education, it has a Board of Advisors which makes annual reports on the health of these institutions to the White House, tracked the flow of federal dollars to them, and working with major agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense to try and increase that support via various strategies. It was here that Bob began to have periodic contact with President Bush.
His Board of Advisors included icons from the HBCU and Civil Rights community such as Dr. James Cheek, of Howard University (who chaired the Board), Dr. Bill Harvey of Hampton, Dr. Ben Peyton of Tuskegee, Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women, and James Joseph of the Council of Foundations (who would later serve as Ambassador to South Africa in the Clinton Administration) and other notable iconic from the corporate and University sectors..
The most notable event that he was a part of in his short two-year tenure there and something which illustrated how President Bush availed himself to the counsel of others, even those who might have opposed other policies of his administration, was when in 1990, Ayers vs. Mississippi, was being argued before the Supreme Court.
The Board of Advisors told him that the US Government was on the wrong side of the issue and upon studying our petition, he called his White House Counsel and instructed him to change the Government’s position before the Court and to side with the three Mississippi based HBCU plaintiffs. A rarity if it has ever happened before, or since.
During his tenure with the Points of Light, other major initiatives to invigorate the volunteer sector movement included:
* The merger between Points of Light and the National Volunteer Center, a network of over 300 community based nonprofits that mobilize volunteers and work with direct service providing agencies;
* The conceptualization of and sponsorship of the President’s Summit for America’s Future which brought together all of the then living Presidents (Carter, H.W. George Bush, Clinton, and Nancy Reagan, representing her late husband) to launch aggressive programming aimed at improving access to fundamental resources young people need in order to lead fulfilling, constructive lives. Chaired by General Colin Powell, America’s Promise, was then chartered to carry on that unique and important focus.
* The founding of Connect America, a partnership campaign reinforcing the bonds of connection between and among a diverse network of leading direct service-providing agencies, corporations, and federal agencies, who could encourage "connection" between those who might otherwise remained estranged, as the he essence of volunteering. And,
* The partnership between Points of Light and the Corporation for National Service, the Federal agency that manages AmeriCorp, Vista, and other historic service initiatives.
Bob was listed for nine straight years as one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by The Non Profit Times. He has received numerous awards for excellence in leadership and partnership development. Four Universities (including The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, Ripon College, and The University of Notre Dame), have recognized his leadership effectiveness and dedication by awarding Honorary Doctorate degrees.
He co-authored with, famed “Artist of Light”, Thomas Kincade, the inspirational book; “Points of Light: A celebration of the American Spirit of Giving”.
He has served on numerous boards of directors of leading nonprofit organizations including The Salvation Army, Guidestar, the Interdenominational Theological Seminary, The National Newspaper Publisher's Association, the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization, Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians, and the National Assembly of Health and Human Service Organization.