Covid-19 Response Team Takes Shape

May 18, 2020
COVID-19 Response

When Valley Leadership launched the first Impact Maker teams in 2019, it was to focus on the most pressing issues in Arizona, connecting life-long, engaged community leaders with the organizations who could use the perspective and can-do spirit of a group of Arizonans ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

These past few months, coronavirus has impacted us all in different ways, and Impact Maker answered the call, standing up a Covid-19 Response Team. In just over a week, they created a critical infographic on unemployment, available in English and Spanish.

And, their work continues. Read on to find out what the Covid-19 Response Impact Team is up to with team chair Clint Houston (Institute Class 41).

Want to engage on how we respond to coronavirus in Arizona? Join us as a part of Ready Together, where we’ll dig into the issues facing Arizona, talk about how they’ve been further impacted by Covid-19 and provide opportunities for you to help make a difference as we emerge from this crisis together. Or, get engaged in an Impact Maker Team. Click here to tell us you’re interested.

Valley Leadership: How did the Covid-19 Response Impact Team come together? How many VL alums are engaged?

Clint Houston: Early on, many in Institute Class 41 were already stepping up to help out those affected by the pandemic. Angela Kenzlowe shared information on how school-age kids could get breakfast and lunch. Matt Morales went in to work the elections. Regional Carrillo handed out meals from the back of a van. Carolyn Vasos was setting out to link 3D printers with hospitals. These are just a few from memory and I’m sure many others were contributing their own way. 

In mid-March, (VL CEO) Dave Brown emailed seeking any interested in forming a Covid-19 Response Impact Team. I signed up and was initially grouped with Carolyn, Kristina Crane (Accelerate 2018) and Nico Howard (Institute Class 41) to focus on the health care response.  As we progressed, more signed on including Kat Proffitt (Institute Class 41), Molly Ho (Institute Class 41) and Sebastian Miller (Youth Class 15).  Since then, we’ve started recruiting and added Stephen Flaaen (Institute Class 41) and Aman Kumar (a community champion) in addition to working with others like Thomas Barr (Institute Class 40) and Josh Stine (Institute Class 41) in the VL network for specific objectives.

VL: What has your group been working on to date, and what do you have planned next?

CH: We have been working with Governor Ducey’s office and Arizona Together. One of their priorities was to create a more user-friendly visual for how to apply for unemployment insurance.

We had team members provide the content and also search the country for examples of other examples that could be the inspiration for something simpler and easy to understand. Team member Tari Thomas (Institute Class 41) and her colleague actually went through the process of how to collect unemployment and drafted a document with all the important components.  Another team member, Jeff Brodin (Institute Class 19) reviewed the document and was interviewed on Arizona Horizon (beginning at 18 minutes) to talk about important resources for businesses and the unemployed. Marisol Miller (Institute Class 25) translated the information to Spanish. The infographic we created was sent far and wide by our Impact Maker strategic partners, other Impact Maker team leads and through social media.

For the short term, our team has also focused on outreach to build our connections to the Covid-19 front line and the local businesses and organizations stepping up to help out. In this process, we’ve leveraged our networks to address some more immediate needs, such as connecting Boys and Girls Club of the Valley to a reliable and affordable source of hand sanitizer and assisting AzCHER (Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response) by connecting them to vetted vendors.

Our long-term plan is to arrange these connections and processes into a system that can be activated to answer future crises and expanded in scope beyond the medical and disinfecting supplies we’ve focused on so far. We’ve started building out an interactive website that can guide helpers to frontline and suppliers to demand.

VL: What Principle of Doing has been most impactful to your group during this time of crisis?

Team Mindset — and not just within the Impact Team, but among all Arizonans. I’ve witnessed so many individuals step up to help out the community with little concern for compensation or credit.  We’ve had local labs provide guidance on test kits and how to identify fraud, distributors offering ideas and connections to handle logistics and manufacturers sharing tips on how to pivot production to meet Covid-19 needs. 

We’re assisting frontline organizations that normally compete but are instead teaming up for group purchasing and even stockpiling supplies for whichever facility was hit hardest. We’re currently communicating with a GoFundMe group that has been loading buses full of bleach and masks to Tuba City to help the Navajo Nation. 

VL: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in the last two months?

CH: Recruit and delegate. I haven’t had much experience working with a team of volunteer leaders, and it’s a much different experience than a corporate setting. I found myself reluctant to ask more of others and fell into the trap of doing it myself. Instead of asking team members to take on more, I learned to recruit more help and partnered with others outside Valley Leadership for specific objectives. When the need is great and the mission is solid, it’s easy to find talented and driven individuals to help out.

I’ve never been part of a network like Valley Leadership. Almost every organization we’ve been in touch with has VL alum, usually at the top of the leadership structure.  The doors have been wide open to decision makers and having VL in common means the trust building is quick and partnerships happen naturally.