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Maxwell School

Roman Yavich

'11 MPA

Co-founder and Director
Comunidad Connect

Roman is currently the co-founder and director of Comunidad Connect, a nonprofit social enterprise working in sustainable community development in Nicaragua.  After receiving his MPA at Maxwell, Yavich received an MS in environmental science from SUNY ESF.

Before coming to Maxwell, Roman graduated from the University of Colorado with degrees in finance and economics. He spent a semester at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago on a life-changing study abroad program and conducted independent research for a semester in Argentina, which turned into his honors thesis on the economics of informal employment in Buenos Aires. In 2006 he accepted a Fulbright grant to research sustainable tourism development in Nicaragua. After this project, he co-founded Comunidad Connect, which he helped operate and grow as a volunteer director until 2015 when he transitioned into the formal Director of Operations role.

According to Yavich, Comunidad Connect is like it sounds: a cultural exchange. The various initiatives of the organization include the Cultural Connections program that allows volunteers on short-term trips to learn from and lend their expertise and assistance to Nicaraguan counterparts. Through their Health Connections program CC provides health-related training and rural community outreach.  CC also has a youth development initiative in organized sports and community gardening. 

Yavich’s work with Comunidad Connect focuses on administration, fundraising, and strategic planning for programs. Before this however, he was instrumental in getting the organization up and running. “We started this organization from scratch. To do we were able to obtain nearly $60,000 to remodel an aging sports complex into a community center,” says Yavich. Now, Comunidad Connect is hosting over 300 international volunteers annually, providing safe drinking water to more than 6,000 people, and improving the health of more than 3,000 rural residents. 

Yavich worked as a graduate assistant for Professor Peter Wilcoxen of PAIA while attending Maxwell. He continues to use the skills he learned at the School in his career. “Maxwell was instrumental in giving me the tools needed to effectively run my nonprofit organization. I use the information I learned in Budgeting with Prof. Duncomb and Fundraising with Prof. Ashley on a daily basis,” says Yavich.

One particular Maxwell memory that Yavich recalls was organizing a three day conference as a part of the Policy Students for Fiscal Responsibility Group. “This was a challenging and time consuming experience that exposed me to the reality of event planning in an environment where many other simultaneous activities are ongoing. I was able to successfully plan several fundraising events for Comunidad Connect making use of what I learned while planning this conference at Maxwell,” says Yavich.