Robert R. Hoopes, Jr. ’85 is a successful entrepreneur and nationally recognized leader in the field of public policy, reputation, and business management.
Robert serves as CEO of VOX Global, a Washington, D.C.- based strategic communications firm that focuses on complex policy issues, issues management, sustainability, and great storytelling to diverse audiences. He has led some of the most high-profile work on a broad range of policy, reputation, and business issues for presidential campaigns, three Senate offices, Fortune 500 companies, higher education, and non-profit organizations.
Robert is also a successful entrepreneur, founding VOX Global in 2007 and building it into one of the largest communications firms in the country. In 2021, he was appointed by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as a Commissioner on The President’s Commission on White House Fellowship, to select, mentor, and grow the White House Fellows Program. He also serves as vice chair of the Council on American Politics at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management and on the Board of the First Tee of Greater Baltimore.
Following WFS, Robert earned a B.A. in Government from Colby College and an M.L.A. from The George Washington University. He is married to Hilary Barnes Hoopes, and they have three children who are fourth-generation graduates of a Friends School.
We are thrilled to honor Robert during Homecoming this year as the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
“As a WFS lifer, one of the most important lessons I learned was to be patient and listen. After graduating college in the height of the pandemic, the future felt unstable and unknown—especially when it came to following my dream of working in the music industry. While I don’t regularly have Meeting for Worship anymore, the practice of reflecting, taking time to sit with my thoughts, and remaining patient, is something that has served me during these last couple of years. Being able to ‘just listen’ to others, or even your own thoughts instead of immediately reacting to any work/life situation, is one of the most powerful tools.”
“My time at Wilmington Friends helped me develop my creativity and leadership. It allowed me to be myself, and realize there are no limits to potential. There is value not only in education, but the relationships formed.”
Elizabeth L. Haven ’72 was a “sandwich” Friends student, between brother Ken Haven ’70 and sister Julie Haven Malloy ’80. At Friends, Liz was active in student government and was Senior Class President. She received the Bush Award and was a National Merit Scholar. After majoring in Geology at Harvard University, Liz graduated in 1976 and left for California, becoming the first female oilfield engineer for the Schlumberger Company. In 1980, Liz completed her M.S. degree in Engineering Geology from Stanford University. Also in 1980, she married fellow geologist Rick Humphreys, with whom she raised two daughters, now grown. Liz led a variety of water quality programs for California’s state government, culminating in the Deputy Director position charged with transferring the Safe Drinking Water Program in order to address the need for safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities. Now retired, Liz and her husband live in Windsor, California and enjoy hiking and camping with their dog in the beautiful countryside and beaches of Sonoma County.
“WFS cultivated my interests from a young age. I felt like teachers really knew me - both my strengths and my weaknesses. They allowed me to be who I was while also encouraging me to reach my full potential. I felt like more than just a student in the Class of 2012; I felt like an important part of the community.”
“WFS taught me about teamwork and compassion when working on assignments and projects with multiple students. This was helpful in college and continues to be in the design world as it’s all about negotiation and teamwork!”
Last April, two dozen students, staff, faculty, and WDEL gathered in the library for a glimpse into the future. Theo Nix, Jr. ‘72 presented on why the sky’s the limit in opportunities for FAA-certified drone pilots. The former corporate counsel for DuPont has founded a business to train pilots in five states including Delaware - and he wants to expand internationally, starting in Kenya.
“Make yourself known in everything that you do. It’s very easy to get ‘lost in the numbers’ at a large university, so it is important that your professors are able to put a face to the name and that you make an honest impression. These connections that you make with professors, advisors, and coaches can last a lifetime and can open up new opportunities that you never knew existed or help you achieve experiences that you have always dreamed of . . . I am able to do what I love in a way that I never thought was possible because of these professors, advisors and coaches.”
Susan Woolley Katz ‘88 was a Lifer at Friends, as were her sisters (Laura Kemper ’81, Lisa Anderson ’82) and parents (Cynthia Pyle Woolley ’56, Clark Hullihen Woolley ’57). Many other generations of her family also attended WFS.
Eric Kelley ’10 graduated from Williams College in 2015 with his degree in English. While at Williams, Kelley captained the Varsity Men’s Lacrosse team and served as a member of the Black Student Union.
“I believe that the concept of active listening and learning was cultivated at WFS, and this included being open to feedback. Being willing (and knowing it’s okay!) to change your mind, and constructively disagreeing helped prepare me for post HS life. On the topic of seeing something differently, it was here that I learned that it is perfectly fine to disagree with someone or not see eye to eye, but it’s imperative for everyone’s personal growth and development to do so in a kind, respectful, and gracious way. I think this is the most powerful lesson I took away from Friends and one that I see necessary to practice daily in our world, now more than ever.”
“One of the greatest lessons I took from Friends was how to think critically, which has served me well throughout my educational journey and into the professional world. It’s truly a skill that is valuable regardless of what you do in life."
“I greatly appreciate WFS for giving me the opportunity to become an independent learner and teaching me how to write. Without these skills, I would not have had nearly as much confidence to go into research as I do now.”