Q &A with Matthew Okebiyi
Q: What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
A: When I am completely overwhelmed by the events that shape our world and need to reaffirm that what I’m doing is not in vain, I often revisit and meditate on “The Walk.”
Q: Working to help others is a pressure intensive undertaking that can be extremely overwhelming. What do you do for fun and relaxation?
A: Having been fortunate to have lived on many continents, I consider myself a traveler without borders. For fun and relaxation, (when I’m able to find the time to do that) I visit as many foreign countries as possible (I have a deep affinity for developing nations), study various cultures and customs, and try as many exotic dishes as possible (a sautéed grub or two is not out of the ordinary). I have many other passions, including: writing screenplays, having lengthy discussions with thought-provoking people from all walks of life who have a vastly different perspective about the issues that shape our world than I do (it’s okay for us to agree to disagree), listening to jazz and other types of so-called ethnic music from all over the world. Besides those, I have a tremendous fascination for all kinds of insects (yes, I must confess. I enjoy studying unusual bugs!) and exotic animals -- birds, reptiles, and big cats. My New York apartment has often been described as the new Wild Kingdom by some very close friends and neighbors.
Q: What are your pet-peeves?
A: Micro-management. Just hire the best employees possible and give them free reins to do their jobs while holding them accountable.
Q: Your favorite meal?
A: One of my favorite meals is rice and plantains with oxtails and vegetables washed down with a very cold beverage. Ahhh, life is good, my friend.
Q: Your favorite sporting events…
A: Professional boxing, Olympic track & field events, and world cup football (soccer to those of you in North America). Hey, 6 billion fans around the planet can’t be wrong!
Q: What do you love the most about AAPCI?
A: The potential it has. Working with an eclectic and culturally diverse staff who are truly passionate about the organization’s mission often makes my work day sail very smoothly. One is always humbled and grateful when surrounded by caring and resourceful employees who continuously go the extra mile to help you realize your vision.
Q: What do you dislike most about working for a not-for-profit organization?
A: As an administrator, you face many challenges. I find that I never have enough money to accomplish the things I truly envision. 70% of my time is shared between planning new projects and fundraising (responding to RFPs, preparing grant applications, soliciting donations); 20% is spent between administrative responsibilities and balancing the budget, and another 10% is spent worrying about a spiraling down economy and how I am going to meet next year’s expenses if I’m unable to raise sufficient funds during this fiscal year.
Q: How can anyone get involved with AAPCI?
A: With all the cutbacks in government funding and private donations, we are asking for individual donations, particularly in this economic climate. Many philanthropic institutions have either minimized their investments in community development programs or completely overhauled their funding priorities for one reason or another. I often pray for a benefactor with deep pockets who shares our vision. Click here for some ideas of how you can get involved with our organization.
Q: What other profession would you like to try if you were not doing this?
A: Too many to mention, but serving humanity in one form or another would be at the top of my list.
Q: Last question. What advice would you give anyone trying to start a new not-for-profit organization or NGO?
A: Have a very well thought out and written plan of action… run it by your board of directors… know your organization’s strengths and weaknesses and find ways to build your capacity. Know your funders intimately. Develop a solid professional support system, and have lots of patience. The not-for-profit world is not an easy cake walk.