Oklahoma's Most-Admired CEOs Profile: Anne M. Roberts, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Article excerpt

Protecting children has been Anne Roberts' life's work. As chief executive officer for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) for two decades, her devotion and innovation helped shine the light on children's issues and resulted in monumental changes in the way Oklahoma government treats children.

Roberts departed her role with the institute in December to take a position as director of legislative affairs for Integris Health.

"The field of child advocacy is actually very young, so those of us who were there in the beginning were quite literally making it up as we went along - experimenting with various strategies and messages to raise awareness about the need to focus on vulnerable children," Roberts said. "It has been a deeply gratifying experience to play a role in developing a statewide network of advocates who are willing to take a stand for kids."

"OICA proved to be the perfect vehicle that, for 20 years, allowed me to express my passion for protecting children. It never occurred to me that I would ever leave. Then when Integris approached me, I realized there was another venue that would give me the opportunity to focus on one of the most important aspects of a child's life - their health!"

When Roberts was named CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy in 1989, she was the sole employee. Under her leadership, the nonprofit's annual budget grew over a 10-year period from $50,000 to $1.65 million with 16 full-time employees.

Based on her belief that "people support what they help to create," Roberts developed a model for convening advocates, working through a facilitated process to identify and prioritize needs and creating the annual Children's Legislative Agenda. This approach has been emulated by several other states.

Her efforts have led to increased funding for programs to prevent child abuse, teen pregnancy and domestic violence. …