Rising to the Challenge During the Pandemic
Booth alumni are making a difference amid the coronavirus pandemic: from supporting current students to funding research to mobilizing help where it’s needed most.
- June 01, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect lives around the globe, Booth alumni continue to send their help and resources to those who need it. Case in point: Jeff Bishop, ’13, the CEO and cofounder of Key Capture Energy, is helping hire Booth students amid the current era of record-breaking unemployment.
He sees it as returning the favor. When Bishop himself was researching business schools in 2010, he only applied to Chicago Booth because he appreciated the career office’s hard work to secure jobs for students during the last economic downturn.
“I saw how Booth stepped up in 2008 and 2009 to place students post graduation,” he said. “So in keeping with that spirit, we have 10 job openings in Houston, Albany, and Salt Lake City that could be of interest to folks who were planning on going into oil and gas, who might have had positions taken away due to the economic downturn with COVID-19. I’m also working now to get one or two current Booth MBA students on my team for summer internships.”
Other alumni, like Derek Chen, AB ’06, are reaching out to the school to provide internship opportunities to students struggling to find their dream career opportunities. Chen studied economics at the College, and through various alumni functions in Hong Kong, met Mark Barnekow, ’88, the executive director of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.
“As an alum, I have always been grateful for the education I received and experience I lived through at UChicago, and I have always wanted to contribute back to the school,” Chen said. “More importantly, given how disruptive COVID-19 has been to the general economy and, in particular, the job market, I could sympathize with the difficulty many students must face trying to secure their internship or full-time job. Thus, I feel this is the time we as UChicago alumni have to step up and offer our help to its students. This is the least we could do in such a difficult world devastated by COVID-19.”
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Polsky Family Helps Spearhead Mask-Making Effort in Chicago
Tanya Polsky and Michael Polsky, ’87, are among a group of parents working to create high-quality cotton masks for the most vulnerable residents of Chicago, through an effort called Sewing Masks for a Safe Chicago, reports Classic Chicago Magazine. As of late May, the effort has produced and donated 97,000 masks, and is now making masks at a rate of 5,000 per day by employing 55 seamstresses and tailors, according to the group’s GoFundMe page, which has raised $245,000. The donations have gone to more than 120 Chicago organizations. The Polskys matched the first $100,000 raised dollar-for-dollar. (May 27)
Inside Two Doctors’ Heroic Work
As a nephrologist in New York, Dr. Tejas Patel, ’15 (XP-84), is on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus, working to stabilize critically ill patients who develop kidney complications. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, his daughter, 16-year-old Shivani Patel, described what her father and mother are experiencing day-to-day. Patel’s wife, Vihas Patel, is a critical-care surgeon in the intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “I’ve always admired my parents,” Shivani writes. “I knew how relentlessly hard they worked to provide for our family and to help people heal. Now, the pandemic has made me see their heroism—the risks they take, their sacrifices.” (May 20)
Oak Street Health Surveys Seniors on Technology Adoption
Oak Street Health, a network of primary care practices serving older, low-income patients, shared the results of a survey that reveals seniors have become more tech-savvy as a result of the pandemic, presenting an opportunity for health care professionals to provide increased virtual health care services. The Chicago-based organization moved about 90 percent of its care services to phone or video telehealth sessions in less than two weeks to continue serving patients while shelter-at-home orders were in effect. Griffin R. Myers, MD ’07, MBA ’10, is the cofounder and chief medical officer. (May 18)
Generali UK Branch Partners to Make Masks for NHS Hospitals
The UK branch of Generali, the Italian insurance and asset management provider, announced that it has partnered with manufacturing firm Filmtronics Ltd to produce 10,000 masks over the coming weeks, which will be donated to local NHS hospitals in London. This initiative will be funded by a boost to the insurer’s existing charitable fund. Generali UK has also created a crowdfunding page, inviting employees, partners, and peers to help further grow the funding and support available to its local community over time. “While our NHS staff literally put their lives on the line for us every day, we wanted to do everything we can to help ensure their safety and wellbeing,” said Dario Pieralisi, ’13 (EXP-19). “We all have to work together to fight this battle. This means not only ensuring our own employees’ wellbeing during these challenging times, but also supporting the local communities in which we live and work.” (May 13)
Indonesian Alumni Launch Grassroots Fundraising Effort
Thirty-one Booth alumni in Indonesia raised Rp 113,000,001 (approximately USD $7,600) to help others in their home country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The group donated the money to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, the government agency responsible for disaster response. The group hopes the funds can be used to buy food and equipment for those most in need. (May 8)
Alumna Restaurateur Adapts amid Closures
Karen Jesso, ’89—who, along with her husband, runs Cafe Borgia, an Italian Restaurant in northwest Indiana that employs a staff of 35—told Chicago Booth about how her business has adapted to the unprecedented challenges facing small business owners, especially in the hospitality industry. “We had to accept it,” she said. “This is reality now. Instead of fighting it, let’s make the best of it.” (May 8)
Honeywell to Produce and Donate Hand Sanitizer to Support Local Needs
Honeywell is temporarily shifting manufacturing operations at two chemical manufacturing facilities in Muskegeon, Michigan, and Seelze, Germany, to produce hand sanitizer, which will be donated to government agencies for distribution. “As global citizens, we are honored to be able to answer the call for help in hopes of minimizing the spread of this pandemic,” said Rajeev Gautam, ’03 (XP-72), president and CEO of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies. “When called upon to help, our team rushed to transform production lines to produce hand sanitizer for areas where it is most urgently needed.” Honeywell also recently announced manufacturing investments that will enable the production of more than 20 million N95 disposable masks monthly from new production lines in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and Phoenix, Arizona. (April 29)
Innovations for Poverty Action Launches COVID-19 Research Hub
Innovations for Poverty Action, a New Haven, Connecticut-based research and policy nonprofit focused on global poverty, has launched Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses, or RECOVR. The online platform serves as a database to integrate and coordinate the research efforts of IPA, Northwestern University’’s Global Poverty Response Lab (GPRL), and development policy researchers from a range of other institutions. Dean S. Karlan, MBA ’97, MPP ’97, is the founder of IPA and co-director of GPRL. (April 23)
Stewart & Stevenson, Rice University to Produce Emergency Use Ventilator
Stewart & Stevenson will produce an advanced version of the ApolloBVM ventilator, an emergency device intended to help patients breathe during first response situations or when traditional, more complex ventilators are not available.The device was developed with Rice University’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. “It is our expectation that the ApolloBVM ventilator advancements that have been jointly developed will not only respond to the critical health care device needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also provide a sturdy and portable system that can be rapidly deployed to the front lines during other emergency response situations,” said Joe Reniers, ’04, president of S&S parent company Kirby Distribution and Services. (April 22)
IDEXX Laboratories Rolls out COVID-19 Test for Pets
IDEXX Laboratories, a veterinary diagnostics and software company, announced it has made a pet test for the COVID-19 virus available to veterinarians. “We have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving public health crisis worldwide, paying special attention to the effects on pets,” said Jay Mazelsky, ’88, president and CEO. “While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, it became clear offering the test was the right thing to do when we saw clinical evidence that pets—especially cats and ferrets—can in rare cases be at risk for infection. And, we heard from our customers around the globe that veterinarians needed a testing option.” (April 20)
Lakeview Pantry Opens Temporary Site at Wrigley Field
Chicago’s Lakeview Pantry opened its first temporary site at Wrigley Field in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The food pantry’s satellite site will support the efforts to keep up with the increasing number of residents seeking food assistance while at the same time allowing volunteers the ability to socially distance. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Cubs owners Tom Ricketts, AB ’88, MBA ’93, and Laura Ricketts toured the new setup as volunteers and staff prepared for the first food distribution. (April 18)
Stepan Company Donates Hand Sanitizer, Disinfectant, to Chicago-area First Responders
Stepan Company, a chemical manufacturer based in Northfield, Illinois, has donated 800 gallons of hand sanitizer and several hundred gallons of spray disinfectants to first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis in the Chicago area. “Stepan Company and its employees are proud to assist our first responders and donate products that help ensure they have the hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant needed to protect themselves from COVID-19 and to keep our communities safe,” said F. Quinn Stepan Jr., ’88, the company’s chairman, president, and CEO. “We are all in this fight together and we continue to encourage our teams across the globe to take creative and meaningful steps to support their communities.” (April 16)
Sinquefields Give $765K Toward COVID-Related Research
The Sinquefield Center for Research announced that its latest cycle of research-related funding to Saint Louis University, totaling more than $765,000, will support several innovations in COVID-19-related research along with critical, specialized equipment. The donation is part of the Center’s 2018 multi-year $50 million gift that established the SLU Research Institute. The Sinquefield Center for Research was established by Rex Sinquefield, ’72, and his wife, Jeanne Sinquefield, PhD ’72 (Demography), MBA ’79, in 2018. (April 15)
Koya Leadership Partners Offers Informational Resources
Koya Leadership Partners published a COVID-19 resource page offering tips for employees working from home, and advice for job seekers. The firm leads executive searches for nonprofits and mission driven organizations. Alison Ranney, MBA ’96, JD ’96, is managing partner at Koya and partner-in-charge, Chicago at the Diversified Search Group. (April 13)
RB & Manon Donates RMB 50 million to Help Chinese Hospitals
RB & Manon, which distributes household products in China, donated RMB 20 million in Dettol brand antiseptic goods and RMB 30 million in funds to support doctors and nurses at Chinese hospitals. RB & Manon is led by CEO and chairman, Merlin Lu, ’16 (AXP-15). (April 8)
Union Square Hospitality Group Launches Nonprofit to Support Employees
New York–based Union Square Hospitality Group, which operates 18 restaurants, has launched USHG HUGS, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) fund to support its team members who are facing unexpected and exceptional financial needs. In an April 3 Facebook post, the company said the foundation had distributed almost $400,000 in one week to team members who needed help with food, housing, and medical expenses. Mark Leavitt, ’83, is CIO of USHG. (April 3)
Kacific Provides High-speed Internet to Remote Health Care Departments
Kacific Broadband Services, a provider of high-speed internet to remote areas across Asia-Pacific, is offering over 1,000 small satellite dishes at no cost in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kacific is making the satellite dishes available to health care departments throughout the region, so communities can rapidly connect rural and remote medical clinics to high-speed internet in their fight against the virus. Cyril Annarella, ’14 (AXP-13), is cofounder and COO. (March 30)
UL Extends Its Efforts in the Fight Against COVID-19
UL, a global independent safety science company, is offering emergency response services for companies adapting to COVID-19, including employee safety guidance, expedited support for medical device and product manufacturers, testing services for personal protective equipment, and more. Jennifer F. Scanlon, ’92, is president and CEO of UL, which is headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. (March 25)
Spirits-Maker Diageo Pledges 8M Bottles of Hand Sanitizer
Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, has pledged to enable the creation of more than eight million bottles of hand sanitiser by donating up to two million litres of grain neutral spirit to manufacturing partners, in an effort to help protect frontline health care workers. Kathryn Mikells, ’94, is the CFO of the London-based beverages company, which is one of the world’s largest distillers. (March 23)
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