Feedback: April/May 2020

by Carol May, Eric Miller, Amy Schwabenlender and Terri Shoemaker

Q: The coronavirus has brought emergency crisis response to the forefront of attention, and the business community has responded. What are some actions your company has taken?

Carol May
Chief Executive Officer
Wisdom Natural Brands®
Sector: Manufacturing

Wisdom Natural Brands takes the COVID-19 national emergency seriously and has initiated a comprehensive policy to protect our employees and customers while continuing to meet the demands of a dynamic consumer products domestic and international business.

Employees are supplied with hand sanitizers, surface wipes and immune-boosting supplements; should any workers or family members show fever, they are sent home, told to see a doctor and need the diagnosis by testing to return. IT has developed training and tools for all except some warehouse staff to work from home. Temps have been released and staff focuses on distributor and retail orders, with consumer and samples sent externally. We use wide-ranging electronic access with Zoom and data sharing. Work at home is rotated to cap any area to ten at a time, social distancing is increased and attendance at local, national and international venues has decreased.

Enhanced screening protocols for handling and testing of all items from abroad and new policies for cleaning of all surfaces, processing inventory and increased online inventories have been developed to meet dynamic sales reports of empty shelves.

CEO and chairperson of Wisdom Natural Brands, Carol May oversees two plant-based brands, SweetLeaf sweeteners and Wisdom of the Ancients herbal teas. Inducted into The Natural Products Industry Hall of Legends, May was named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Business Women, and in 2019 one of its Most Admired Leaders.

Eric Miller
Co-Founder and Principal
Sector: Manufacturing

The spread of the coronavirus is having an impact on our business and on companies we do business with. Our manufacturing partners in China did not return to full production after the Chinese New Year, and are spooling back up slowly but are getting back online. In addition, we are seeing many people we work with reassess their dependence on Asian manufacturers by looking into diversifying their risk around the world.

To minimize the risk to our employees, we have canceled several trips and at least one conference in China. We are also taking precautions in our office, which includes asking sick employees to work from home and stepping up our cleaning. As the situation progresses, the plan is to monitor the spread in the U.S. and, if necessary, take additional precautions that will include postponing events and asking employees to work from home. The economic impact on our customers is another thing we are constantly assessing and helping them with technology or consulting solutions that will allow them to adapt.

As an industry veteran of 34 years, Eric Miller has perfected a diverse set of skills that he implements as co-founder and principal of Tempe-based PADT. His role encompasses oversight of simulation and product development consulting, IT, marketing, operations, human resources and administration. Miller graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, and began his career as a summer intern at Lockheed doing design work on satellite subsystems.

Amy Schwabenlender
Executive Director
Human Services Campus, Inc.
Sector: Nonprofit

Homelessness does not get a break; people have no home to quarantine or isolate themselves in. Because the Human Services Campus is a crisis response ecosystem, we cannot totally shut down.

Our proactive measures to educate and protect staff and clients experiencing homelessness include new staffing models to rotate people in two-week cycles, as well as working with skeleton crews. To provide a bit of scope, during the week, between 800 and 1,000 clients on campus are served by 200 employees from 16 on-site nonprofits. Most days, there also are about 100 volunteers. We are communicating daily with campus partners and monitoring key healthcare and medical sources for updates and direction. We also have frequent communication with Maricopa County Public Health and are beginning to screen clients at the Brian Garcia Welcome Center who are new to Campus, and at the Greeter Station for returning clients. If a client presents flu-like symptoms, HSC staff and campus partners will isolate the client to the best of their ability and work with Circle the City for medical care.

Amy Schwabenlender is the executive director of Human Services Campus, Inc., which owns and manages a 13-acre campus near downtown Phoenix where 16 independent nonprofit agencies provide support and services for individuals experiencing homelessness. Before taking on responsibilities at the Human Services Campus, Schwabenlender spent 13 years as vice president of Community Impact at the Valley of the Sun United Way.

Terri Shoemaker
Vice President, Development and Marketing
Association of Arizona Food Banks/Arizona Food Bank Network
Sector: Nonprofit

Arizona’s food banks are adapting to help food-insecure Arizonans make it through this time of extra stress on household resources. Many agencies are instituting limited-contact models, including drive-through food box pick-ups. The Arizona Food Bank Network (AzFBN) and our partners are also working to get more state and federal resources to help children, seniors and families. AzFBN is working on waivers to administrative processes, limiting in-person visits and trainings, and increasing access to supports like SNAP/food stamps and other nutrition programs.

At AzFBN itself, our staff is telecommuting with limited stop-ins at the office to check the mail and make critical donor deposits. The team is working together with remote technology to answer phones, update the website and respond to people who need to be connected to others in the community. All of this is in addition to core program work.

Innovation is part of AzFBN’s mission, and we’re going to do just that and try to get food banks everything they need until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Terri Shoemaker is a fundraising pro from way back. She’s worked at national nonprofits like Feeding America and Best Friends Animal Society and has lived everywhere from Maine to Atlanta. Shoemaker is happy to call AzFBN and Arizona her home.

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