AFNIC leader makes a difference

  • Published
  • By Elizabeth Stoeckmann and Noel Getlin
  • Air Force Network Integration Center
Rich Weathers is accustomed to handling large sums of money. The retired Air Force Colonel served in numerous financial management roles at all levels during his distinguished 30 year career. Currently, as director, Plans and Programs for the Air Force Network Integration Center, he is responsible for a budget of more than $2 billion supporting Air Force cyber operations. His financial expertise, leadership and passion to serve makes him a natural fit for the role of Chair of the 2011 Gateway Combined Federal Campaign Leadership Committee.

After volunteering as Vice Chair for the CFC last year, Weathers was appointed chair to lead the fund-raising effort this year for all government agencies in the St. Louis area.

"At first, I thought I was only going to be responsible for Scott Air Force Base, but soon learned I would be leading the campaign spanning 97 counties throughout Illinois and Missouri," said Weathers chuckling. The region has more than 37,000 federal, military and postal employees. "It didn't change my decision though. In my 30-year Air Force career, I've always worked with the CFC as a key worker or campaign representative. It suddenly wasn't work anymore," he said of his experiences with CFC. "It became a commitment after seeing how CFC was supporting people in all walks of life in need."

This year marks 50 years of dedicated public service for CFC, an organization established by President John F. Kennedy in a Presidential Order in 1961. This year's theme is "50 Years of Caring."

Weathers is optimistic about donor giving this anniversary year, in spite of the ailing economy. "I plan to give more than I gave last year, and I hope those that are fortunate enough to have a job as I am, will do the same," said Weathers. "I'm cautiously optimistic -- because of the economy - about meeting and exceeding the 2011 Gateway CFC $3.2 million goal."

In fact, the state of the economy is even more reason to give for those that can in support of those in need.

"The most inspiring thing about the CFC is the fact that they help so many people in need," said Weathers. "Especially in today's economy, many people who have never been in this situation are now in need of support from charities support by CFC. Seeing what the CFC gives back to the community to those less fortunate, is the motivation for me."

He poignantly recalls a specific time a charity supported by CFC answered the call for help. When he was the comptroller at MacDill Air Force Base supporting victims of Hurricane Andrew from Homestead Air Force Base, a dependent spouse from Homestead with her two kids in tow, walked into his finance office with nothing but the clothes on their backs. She was requesting advance pay, which required her husband's approval. Unfortunately, he was deployed to a remote location and not immediately accessible. The charity stepped in and provided the immediate support they needed.

Since his appointment, Weathers has set a series of goals; first, 100-percent contact with potential donors in the region to give everyone an opportunity to donate; second, establish the overall CFC dollar goal for the year, which includes special incentives to donors and counsel to those organizations and recipients who desire CFC benefits; and third, keeping administrative costs to a bare minimum to maximize the "benefit" return on investment for every dollar donated.

"The vast majority of charitable organizations spend 10 percent or more on administrative costs, whereas the Gateway region spends a mere 6 percent," said Mr. Weathers. "Our lower administrative cost is directly attributed to the many, many hours of support we receive from our vast population CFC volunteers."

Weathers is also president of the local chapter of the American Society of Military Comptrollers who also volunteer their time and talent to charitable organizations in the local community, such as the Violence Prevention Center, Relay for Life and the Susan B. Komen race for the cure. Others have taken notice of his service and leadership.

"Rich Weathers leads by example," said Ms. Laura Neuman-Howe, deputy director of Earth Share of Missouri, Principal, Combined Fund Organization also associated with CFC. "He is super supportive of the CFC with a passion and caring attitude to the overall program... It's evident in his energy and engagement with others in bringing the team together."

Weathers believes that people should give back to the community whenever and however they can. There is no shortage of people out there needing help and those of us in a position to help, should always answer the call. One never knows when that voice seeking help could one day be our very own.

"It's important that we constantly work to improve ourselves individually, but we must work to improve our collective society as well," said Weathers.

"I look forward to a successful 50th anniversary CFC campaign. My thanks to those who have contributed to CFC over the last 50 years and to those that will continue to contribute for the next 50.

For more information visit the Gateway CFC website at www.gatewayCFC.org