2020 Board Candidate: Esteban de Dobrzynski

Occupation

Inter-American Development Bank, Specialist Attorney at the Legal Department – Sovereign Guaranteed Operations Division.

Education

American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C., USA
Master of Laws in International Legal Studies (LL.M.), December 2017

University of Buenos Aires, Law School, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Attorney-at-Law (JD equivalent), August 2014

Community Involvement

Growing up in Argentina I was involved in community service and volunteer work throughout all of my school years (primary, middle and high school) as well as after graduation and into my university years. Volunteer work and service was instilled by my parents from early in my life. I held a leadership volunteer position organizing and managing an annual contemplative pilgrimage in Buenos Aires. I also participated in different groups providing food for the homeless. And I participated in different fundraising events to help fund different programs aimed at helping the homeless.

In my university years, I did pro bono work at the Consumer Protection Agency for the City of Buenos Aires, where I listened, guided and advised consumers who had suffered from unfair and discriminatory practices.

Why are you interested in serving on the Board?

I am interested in serving on the Board so that I can contribute to the important job it does in improving the reality and future of the Coop and its community. I want to put my skills, knowledge, training, and energy into a greater good by serving the community I live in, through one of its pillar institutions, the Coop. I also want to learn from the rest of the Board members and the Coop community so I can more effectively serve it.

Why are co-ops in general and TPSS Co-op in particular important to you?

As the true origin of the word, cooperative means working together. By working together, we can strive to form a better, healthier, more understanding, compassionate and supportive community. I come from a country where many things have gone wrong many times, but if there is one thing that has held us together, it is cooperation. Being part of a team working together for a common good and doing the right thing for other people comes naturally to me.

I deeply believe accessing healthy, nutritious, enriching food should not be a privilege for a few. Through cooperative organizations better food is accessible to more people. Food should not be something that stands in the way of peoples’ path to a better life.

What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other co-operatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the TPSS Co-op Board?

When I emigrated to the US about five years ago and started studying my postgraduate degree in international law (LLM) at American University, I served as President of the LLM Board. In that capacity, and together with colleagues from all over the world, we had to represent our fellow students both inside and outside the institution. We were also tasked with supporting our classmates and helping all of us get the most out of our experience studying abroad, all while being conscious of our cultural and background differences. This is much like the Coop, where its community mingles different religions, beliefs, races, origins, paths in life, etc.

In addition to that, for many years I held a leadership volunteer position organizing and managing an annual contemplative pilgrimage in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In that role, I led a group of volunteers that provided food, transportation, wellness and wellbeing for our community so this cleansing walking experience could happen smoothly. This was the most meaningful event for many people in my city and within my community. For me, it was a joy to serve in this way.

What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

My favorite Coop Principle is CONCERNS FOR THE COMMUNITY because it encompasses and summarizes the other principles. In the end, a group of people decides to organize themselves under a cooperative system to help the community they belong to because they care about it, and to represent everyone equally and democratically, to educate and inspire them. A coop could not exist without a strong community, and a community is definitely better and stronger with a coop by its side.

Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization's budget and financial performance.

Tangentially, as a lawyer, I have been exposed to and studied finance, although I have been lucky to work in settings where other people specialized in financial management and oversight. I currently work within a multilateral development bank, where finances are a central part of the job. I serve as the legal advisor for teams that develop loans for projects that fit the needs and realities of the countries we serve. Also, as a member of the student board at my postgraduate degree, as well as in previous projects and work experiences, I have had smaller-scale financial oversight responsibilities. If elected to the Board, I would take the opportunity to develop financial skills by learning from the Board and the Management team at the Coop.

Why are diversity and equity important to you, and how do these principles show up in your life?

I honestly believe all growth comes out of diversity. In order to achieve and upheld diversity, you have to fight for equity so people can claim their seat at the table--as it should already be--in every setting.

Personally, I am learning more about and adapting to this country’s history and issues with diversity. While I am a minority here in the US, five years ago I was part of the majority in my own country and I benefited from the particularities of its own diversity and equity issues. Diversity is a conversation we have almost every day in my house now. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to learn and better educate myself on the history of oppression in this country. This is an ongoing process for me, as I believe it is for many others as well.

Professionally, I work in an international organization with colleagues from more than 40 different countries, each with their own particular set of social identities. Every day I work on team projects with different subgroups of people where I learn and experience firsthand the richness of diversity.

Finally, my education, especially the one in the US, has played a big role in showing me the importance of diversity. Being at the same table with fellow lawyers, all with their own perspectives shaped by their own backgrounds enriched my educational experience and opened my mind to different points of view and entirely different realities. If elected, I would bring these experiences with me while continuing to learn daily from this role.