ABOUT ROBERT

 

Let me introduce myself.  I’m Robert Allen and I’ve been a member of NARFE since 2008.  I’m running for Region X Vice President and I respectfully seek your vote.

 

I started working for the government in 1978 after graduate school.  I worked in different locations, from Laurel, MD to Ft. Monroe, VA over my 32-year career. I really enjoyed my work because I felt I made a small, but lasting and important contribution to the welfare of the United States. I worked with some great folks, some of the smartest people I’ve ever known.  One fellow was actually a four-time champion on Jeopardy!  He lost the fifth time (this was back when the contestants couldn’t win more than five times) and lost it on the final jeopardy question.  It was a question, because of his field, he should have been able to answer but didn’t.  I rose up the ranks, retiring as a division chief at Ft. Monroe. 

 

My family and I lived in Maryland for seven years and in Virginia Beach, VA for 25.   Our son, who is a Staff Sergeant in the US Army, was born in North Carolina when I was still in graduate school.  Our daughter, an Assistant Professor of British History at High Point University in North Carolina, was born in Laurel, MD. We thoroughly loved living in those places, especially in Virginia Beach.  It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and we still have very good friends living there.  But my wife and I, because we’re native North Carolinians, always knew we’d be returning to North Carolina upon retirement.  We didn’t know where exactly, but we knew we’d be back.  I famously told the folks at our church in Virginia Beach that after 32 years of exile, we were finally moving back to “the goodliest land under the cope of heaven.”  I have to say, though, that the whole time when I was working, I knew that somehow I didn’t have to worry about my income or my health benefits, or anything else along those lines.  I worked for the government so I didn’t have to worry.

 

It wasn’t until a few years before I thought about retiring that such issues really started to sink in. In hindsight I wish I’d thought about it early in my career. I was fortunate that at Ft. Monroe we had an outstanding personnel office that set up retirement seminars.  The personnel office there guided me through everything I needed to do.  However, one of my coworkers had attended a retirement seminar just before he retired and said it was a tremendous help.  So, I decided to attend one of the seminars.  There were folks representing various organizations, one of which was NARFE.  The chapter folks there told us about the services they provided–protecting our earned pay and benefits–and that’s when I started to realize I did have to think that my retirement pay and benefits could always be in jeopardy.  So, I joined the local NARFE chapter right then and there. 

 

I retired two years later in 2010 and my wife Cheryl and I moved back to North Carolina.  We moved to Person County, a small rural place where she had family land and we built a house and settled in.  Shorty I started looking for a NARFE chapter to join and found the one in Durham.  I was a member there for a few months but then learned there was a chapter right here in Person County, so I transferred my membership and the rest is history.  Needless to say, being the new kid on the block I had some learning to do, but as we all know, new blood means fresh meat and I was asked to become president of the chapter.  I took up the challenge and the chapter and I are still going after all these years.  And through it all we’ve been driven by our uniting goal of protecting our earned pay and benefits.

 

The first NARFE exposure I had beyond the chapter was the time I was asked to attend a Federation area training event in Raleigh.  The speaker was Dan Adcock, the NARFE legislative director, and I was hooked.  He talked about all NARFE was advocating for on our behalf.  I started attending other events in the area.   Then at the first federation convention I attended I was asked out of the blue by one of my NARFE mentors to run for Area VP.  I did but lost by one vote.  Fortunately for me the newly elected Federation President asked me to become the Federation Public Relations Chair and I accepted.  After one year in that job I ran again for Area VP and won.  I was able to meet and work with strong NARFE members in a nine-chapter area.  I attended my first Region X conference in Pigeon Forge, TN in 2013 and realized what power there was in our region.  Region X had then and still does have some of the most dynamic, NARFE-knowledgeable advocates anywhere.  Later, with some encouragement from several people I ran the following year for Federation Executive Vice President.  I won and during that two-year term I was exposed to national NARFE for the first time.  I was appointed to the national NARFE Bylaws Committee and was a North Carolina delegate to the National Convention in Orlando, FL.  It was eye opening to say the least.

 

In 2016 I ran for and was elected as the North Carolina Federation President.  That was the honor of a lifetime–leading the super advocates of North Carolina NARFE.  During this time we underwent significant change as we all had to move to Optional Chapter Membership and One Member/One Vote status.  To accomplish this I was blessed to work with a great Federation Board and a super Region X Vice President as we successfully implemented a new strategic plan for the Federation that endures (with some slight modification) to this day.  It was also during this time that I was named the chair of the National Bylaws and Resolutions Committee from 2016 to 2020.  That’s where I learned about how NARFE really works, from top to bottom.  And that’s what brings me here, in 2022, to run for Region X Vice President.

 

NARFE is changing before our very eyes, in good ways but in some not-so-good ways.  It is my firm belief that my background can lead Region X and ultimately NARFE to meet the challenges we face, while enhancing the wonderful things we’ve already accomplished.  There’s no reason Region X can’t be at the forefront of everything NARFE accomplishes over the next few years.  Please join me in providing the benefits services all federal employees and retirees–not just NARFE members–need to continue for another 100 years.