Executive Director David Saltzman Says Goodbye

After 27 years as Robin Hood’s executive director, David Saltzman is moving on.

After 27 years as Robin Hood’s executive director, David Saltzman is moving on. On the eve of his final days with the organization he helped build from the ground up, we reflect on the tremendous, life-changing impact he has had on the lives of the 1.8 million New Yorkers living in poverty.

Watch David’s poignant remarks at the 2016 Heroes Breakfast in which he thanks Robin Hood’s staff, board, and most loyal supporters.

I am so lucky to have spent the past 27 years working with all of you in this room. Thank you for giving your time, and giving your money, and giving your brainpower, and giving your hearts to help others.

I’m so lucky that my friend Glenn Dubin introduced me to Paul Jones, Peter Borish, and Moe Chessa. And that Paul, you invited us to join you as the five founders of a small, all volunteer thing that came to be known as Robin Hood.

And I’m so lucky that when we offered the job of running the place to everybody and their sister, everybody and their sister said no, and the other founders were willing to take a chance on Norman Atkins and me. We were a couple of 27-year-olds who loved the idea of being entrepreneurial and trying to save lives. Thank you.

No one in this room deserves to be honored more than the extraordinary people who work at Robin Hood. While I am being given this beautiful recognition, we earned it together. There is no finer, smarter, kinder, and better looking group of people. I love you and I will miss seeing you every day more than I can possibly express.

To those of you who serve on Robin Hood’s board of directors, the leadership council, our housing advisory board, our emeritus board, you’re fine, and smart, and kind, and good looking too.

And to my mom and her new hip, thank you for raising me to always remember how important it is to give back. You and pop, you set the best possible example.

And Elizabeth, my wife, you’re the sweetest, smartest, hottest woman on planet earth. Thank you for putting up with me and always being such an important part of all things Robin Hood. And our beautiful sons Jack and Teddy, who surprised me by coming in from college, almost every day you remind us that your generation will be smarter and better than ours.

So, some people worry that Robin Hood’s best days are in the past, but that’s not true. Today is Robin Hood’s best day for the homeless family who will move into their own home. And today is Robin Hood’s best day for the student who will learn how to multiply. And today is Robin Hood’s best day for the single mother who will get a job. Today is Robin Hood’s best day for someone who will be cured of a disease.

Robin Hood will continue to thrive because Robin Hood is Jukay, and Moawia, and Jon, and Juan, and Jojo, and Gloria. Robin Hood is you, and you, and you, and me, and together we are Robin Hood. Together we have done great things, and I know that together we will do even greater things in the future.

Tom, thank you for being our host today. My favorite description of Robin Hood comes from you. You said that when you were a boy living in a small town in South Dakota, the whole town would rally together when a neighbor experienced hard times. People brought food when a family had trouble feeding their kids, or made a mortgage payment when a family had a tough month. Then you said that Robin Hood was just trying to make the biggest city in the nation like the small town where you grew up. I love that. It is exactly right. Of all the things I’m proud of at Robin Hood, that’s what I am most proud of — that together we have created a beautiful and mighty community of caring people.

Of course I am proud that Robin has grown from a posse of five volunteers to a force of more than 360,000 donors. And of course I’m proud that we raised more than 2.5 billion dollars to help others. And of course, I’m proud that we pioneered the use of smart metrics to help ensure effectiveness. And of course, I’m proud that we helped make giving cool and fun. And of course, I’m proud that we help grow the charter school movement. And of course, I’m proud that we have helped tens of thousands of people claw their way out of homelessness. And of course, I’m proud of our response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and Hurricane Sandy. And of course, I’m proud that we have helped millions of people experience the American dream. And of course, I am proud that we helped fend off that monster that Geoff Canada talked about a quarter of a century ago.

But what I am proudest of is that we came together to form this beautiful and mighty community of caring people. Together, we are Robin Hood and if we all do our part and give as much as we can, I know, Robin Hood’s best days are in the future.

Thank you.