DISPLAYS OF CHARACTER
Meet the WRD Campaign Ambassadors displayed in the Exhibit
- Albert Pless
- Alex Gordillo
- Andy Polanco
- Bob Russo
- Fred Jewett
- Jarrod Chin
- John Laing
- Leonard Hayes
- Malcolm Astley
- Paulo Pinto
- Ramesh Advani
- Robert Bongiorno
- Yevin Roh
BECOME AN AMBASSADOR TODAY!
Ambassadors agree to wear the ribbon on White Ribbon Day and recruit 5 to 10 male friends and colleagues to join them in taking the WRD pledge.
CORPORATE SPONSORS FOR DISPLAYS OF CHARACTER
Ambassador Bob Russo
Director of Creative Services VDA Productions
“The message of masculinity should not only be about how to be a man, but about being a good person.”
Bob Russo is a man of many talents and interests. He joined the Middlesex County Deputy Sheriff’s Association as a Reserve Deputy interested in community service, designs and builds elaborate exhibits for tradeshows and events, belongs to a motorcycle club, and is a devoted father, partner and friend. It’s his belief that we need to celebrate and allow men to be their whole selves that drew him to become one of the first White Ribbon Day Ambassadors in 2007.
Bob reached out to Jane Doe Inc. to find out how he could help and the rest as they say is history. Since the inaugural event, Bob has marshalled the support of VDA, the production agency where he is Creative Director, and other business partners to manage the technical details and transform Gardner Auditorium at the State House into a memorable White Ribbon Day experience complete with red lighting.
“I felt a connection and had some experience with domestic violence in my life – some of my family members were victims, I also embraced the opportunity to dismantle stereotypes by becoming more involved with the Campaign. During my time as part of a motorcycle club,” Bob remembers, “I invited fellow members to attend the first White Ribbon Day event at the State House. We came to White Ribbon Day, wore the pins, and took the pledge just like the other men in attendance. It was interesting because even though the event at the Statehouse was crowded, standing room only, we had a good 6-8 feet of space around us, forming an unspoken moat around the ‘scary men in black leather.’ White Ribbon Day is moving forward with breaking down our understanding of stereotypes about perpetrators and victims. There are people from all walks of life and all strata of society who are involved in effecting change.”
In the same light, Bob supports the effort of the White Ribbon Day Campaign to reframe men “from being viewed as victimizers to being viewed as part of the solution…I wear my White Ribbon on my coat year round, and once when I was in line at the airport, two women asked me about it. After I told them about the goals of the White Ribbon Day Campaign, one of them looked at me and said ‘thank you.’ It was really great that she got it, and it broke the stereotype of who the activists might be in this work.”
“Through the years seeing these people who have committed their entire lives day in and day out is very impressive…sometimes you get a feeling of helplessness in solving the problem because it is such a daunting task.” Despite the progress in breaking down stereotypes and engaging men in this work, Bob does not take lightly the challenges that arise in preventing sexual and domestic violence. Speaking from experience with trying to help others, Bob states, “sometimes victims refuse help." With all my connections with law enforcement and Jane Doe, it was disheartening that I couldn’t help a family member in that situation. But I also understood how the dynamics of abuse were keeping her trapped.”
Bob also recalls the challenges of directly intervening as a bystander: “I was at Revere Beach with my girlfriend and saw a young couple. The man was yelling at her, pushing her, and then slapped her upside the head – not hard, but to intimidate her. I went over to intervene, and she defended him, saying it would only make him madder. It was difficult for me to think that she might pay the price for my intervention later on when they’re alone at home. To this day I wonder, what other options can we create to help increase safety and accountability in these situations?”
As challenging as these setbacks are, his connection to the White Ribbon Day Campaign is a resource to helping him think through his experiences and his options for being an effective and proactive bystander. Men and women can address these barriers to social change by “educating boys when they’re younger and trying to break that cycle,” says Bob. “It is never too early to start a germ of an idea. In doing so, it is important that boys understand a positive framework of masculinity. I’ve seen all types of masculinity. Masculinity is more of a mindset. There may be differences between men and women but that does not need to be a barrier. As a man, I strive to be better not at the expense of others, but because I want to exceed at what I do. This message of masculinity should not only be about how to be a man, but about being a good person.”
Bob finds hope that by educating children, we can take important steps toward creating a safer world for future generations: “I am doing this for my daughter. So that some day she might find a man with a better self image, so that he does not have to put down other people to make himself feel better.”