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.