Anne and Brock Roby have been named "Couple of the Year" for 2013, joining the select group of individuals and couples who have earned the title bestowed by the Pleasanton Weekly over the years.
Known for their leadership skills and accomplishments in city, civic, business, sports and church activities, the Robys have extensive experience in public service. Perhaps they are best known for their work with families who have children with special needs, including organizing and supporting a Pleasanton branch of Exceptional Children Soccer, or E-Soccer, a soccer club for children with learning and functioning difficulties.
Brock Roby, a civil engineer with BKF Engineers, chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and for many years a church ministry leader, was named just last Friday as the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Mayor's Award. The award was presented by Mayor Jerry Thorne at a dinner for several hundred community volunteers, held in conjunction with a ribbon-cutting officially reopening the renovated Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center.
Anne, who joined him at the award ceremony with their two sons, Barrett and Nick, is director of client services for PrepPoint, a Tri-Valley tutoring service, where she serves as the liaison between tutors and clients.
Brock and Anne met at Princeton University, where both received degrees in civil engineering. Both continue their affiliation with the school, serving as admissions interviewers for Princeton.
Between college and their move to Pleasanton, Brock and Anne led ministries for the International Church of Christ for 19 years in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Honolulu, and have spoken around the world in places that included Indonesia, Fiji, New Zealand and Estonia.
Besides his work as president of the Pleasanton Chamber and Anne's time spent doing tutoring activities, both have long lists of interests and accomplishments.
Brock chairs the city's Human Services Commission, serves on the Pleasanton Advisory Board for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and on the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force. He served on the Pleasanton Youth Master Plan Implementation Committee from 2008 to 2010. He is also a frequent speaker at high school career events for students interested in a career in engineering.
Anne serves on the Board of Managers for the Tri Valley YMCA and maintains a blog for families who have children with special needs called "The Exceptional Journey" at ahroby.wordpress.com. In her most recent posting, she talks about programs designed to assist transitioning these children into adulthood, including their son Barrett, who just turned 22.
The Robys moved to Pleasanton in 2001 because of the school district.
"We knew we wanted to be somewhere in Tri-Valley, and some quick research convinced us Pleasanton was the place," Brock Roby said. "I often tell people that we got our money's worth out of Pleasanton Unified.
"With one son having special needs, and the other being a high-achiever, we scraped both sides of the system as we were coming through," he added. "We benefited from just about every program and opportunity that was available. We are so grateful for the experience we had raising our boys in Pleasanton that we now really want to give back in whatever way we can."
The Robys first started taking Barrett to the original E-Soccer program in Foster City as a first grader, where their younger son, Nick, first learned to play soccer as a "buddy" and has since become an accomplished competitive soccer player.
That is where Anne and Brock discovered how much they needed connection with other special needs parents, and how their family could benefit by helping others. After driving across the bay to E-Soccer for a couple of years, they got help from their church to start E-Soccer in Pleasanton, starting what has become a successful program for special needs families here.
Roby said he and Anne owe a lot to Barrett when it comes to their commitment to help families with special needs. He taught the family how to enjoy his journey, not just the destination.
"Barrett has taught me that it does not matter how you look, or what people think when they see you," Roby said. "He is not bothered by those thoughts and is content to be happy being loved by his family and friends. Our family has learned how to appreciate help from others and the value of being in a community of friends that love you and see the best in you even when you don't."
In establishing the E-Soccer program in Pleasanton, the Robys found the sport growing quickly with every new season. They needed a lot of coaches to make E-Soccer succeed, at least one coach for every three or four "players."
But as they were running out of adult volunteers, their son Nick started bringing some of his high school friends and basketball teammates to E-Soccer to help.
"We instantly discovered two amazing things," Brock Roby said. "The kids in the program absolutely loved the younger coaches, and the teen coaches loved working with the kids in E-Soccer. It was a win-win!"
The Robys said they owe a big "thank you" to three groups that have been instrumental in their passion for community involvement.
"First, our church (Bay Area Christian Church) is where we learned about E-Soccer and where we were inspired as a family to make a difference in our community," Anne Roby said. "Second, the Pleasanton Chamber's Leadership Pleasanton program opened our eyes to the great work many others have done and still do to make Pleasanton great. It also opened our opportunities by connecting us with people who were connected to Pleasanton."
And third, Brock Roby thanks his boss, Dan Schaefer, principal at BKF Engineers, who encouraged his involvement in community activities and has supported the responsibilities he has as chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber.