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At Comerica, Diversity is embracing an inclusive culture that recognizes, respects and is sensitive to the differences in our community. Welcoming and supporting colleagues of all backgrounds is a pillar of the Comerica Promise and is key to the way we conduct business. To further this commitment, we developed and published our Diversity Commitment statement. This statement highlights our Diversity Core Value and recognizes the behaviors, values and beliefs that support a work environment in which we celebrate the differences among our employees and embrace our critical role in the communities we serve.
Plastic bag bans swept through cities, while coffee shops incentivized customers to use reusable cups. In recent years, avoiding plastic waste had become a “new normal” for many Americans. Then came the novel coronavirus, and with it a resurgence in single-use systems.
For Plastic-Free July, we’ll take a closer look at a circular model that ensures health and hygiene while providing an alternative to single-use.
Join TriplePundit senior editor Mary Mazzoni on July 22 at 2 p.m. ET for “Will Plastic-Free July Survive the Coronavirus?,” a live interview with Anthony Rossi, vice president of global business development for the reusable packaging platform Loop and Patrick Browne, director of global sustainability for Loop’s logistics partner, UPS. Register here.
They’ll discuss what’s new with Loop, often dubbed the “21st-century milkman,” in the time of COVID-19 and explore how circular systems like these can change mindsets and avoid a backslide on plastic waste generation.
3BL Media created the “Learn From Home” series as the U.S. workforce went into self-isolation in March. Leveraging the expertise of TriplePundit, which has been covering sustainable business since 2005, the series focuses on bold and authentic corporate leadership.
About 3BL Media
3BL Media delivers purpose-driven communications for the world’s leading companies. Our unrivaled distribution, leadership and editorial platforms inspire and support global sustainable business. Learn more here.
What if we leveraged the power of sport to help build more sustainable communities?
It’s widely recognized how sports benefit individual players – building discipline, confidence, fitness and leadership skills. What’s less recognized is the positive influence that sporting events can have on a community, especially when it comes to promoting a more sustainable future. From encouraging smarter waste management to building inclusion, sporting events have the reach to influence hundreds of thousands of people and be an important enabler of sustainable development.
That is why corporations like Dow are increasingly seeing the potential of sponsorships and corporate partnerships for their social as well as commercial value. Through our partnerships with organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and LPGA, we’ve seen how collaboration can catalyze efforts and advance environmental, health, education and social inclusion objectives.
Dow and the LPGA: Hitting the Links Between Golf, Inclusion and Sustainability
Take our commitment as the title sponsor of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational (Dow GLBI), the only team event for the LPGA. From the start, we saw an opportunity to extend our sponsorship far beyond the golf course and advance sustainability and inclusion in the Great Lakes Bay Region in Michigan. Our 2025 Sustainability Goals seek to develop sustainable frameworks that integrate science and technology, cross-sector collaboration and value chain innovation and lead to increased adoption of solutions that promote a lower-carbon, circular economy and build stronger, more resilient communities. With that in mind, we worked with more than 250 local partners, involved thousands of area youth in leadership and STEM activities, recycled or reused 68 percent of the waste generated from the tournament and benefited 59 community organizations in the event’s first year.
Our efforts resulted in two firsts: The 2019 Dow GLBI became the first GEO Certified® golf tournament on the LPGA tour and the first women’s event worldwide to achieve GEO certification, an internationally recognized ecolabel developed specifically for the golf industry. Every applicant for the GEO Certified® ecolabel is visited by an accredited, third-party verifier and must demonstrate a positive environment, and economic and social impacts across six categories.
Below are a few takeaways and observations from our experience:
Start with a vision and long-term stretch goals: Our Dow team worked with tournament organizers to draft a five-year sustainability plan. Our first year focused on the tournament’s footprint. We established a carbon, waste and water baseline and implemented best practices to achieve waste, water and energy savings, while also engaging businesses, vendors and community organizations. In the next couple of years, we’ll focus on the tournament’s handprint by implementing innovations in carbon offsetting, educational partnerships and ambassador support. Finally, in the fourth and fifth years of the tournament, we hope to share blueprints that can be leveraged by other sporting event organizers in areas such as the circular economy, clean power, net-positive water impact and golf accessibility.
Invite your collaborators to help problem-solve: We found the more inclusive we were, the more we generated creative ideas that moved us forward together. A few examples:
Business and community leaders: During the tournament, we invited community and business leaders to a sustainability breakfast. The goal was to brainstorm one idea that could be implemented to advance sustainability in the community. After discussing a variety of needs, the winning idea was a regional recycling initiative for businesses that leverages learnings from a local community college and is being managed by a regional business alliance. Dow is contributing minimal seed money to implement the project.
Suppliers: When sharing our sustainable procurement code with vendors, we also invited them to share their best practices and ideas. This resulted in a vendor donating hybrid power generators to power scoreboards, which saved fuel and emissions.
Academia: We engaged area business students at a local university to pitch project ideas for the tournament as part of their sustainable business management class. Some projects were implemented and resulted in the tournament earning innovation credits during the GEO certification process.
Find fun and practical ways to educate spectators and reinforce sustainable practices: To encourage healthier habits, the tournament organizers teamed up with the local hospital to launch the Step for Healthy Living Challenge. Attendees were challenged to track their steps while at the tournament, resulting in more than 1,450 individuals tracking more than 28 million steps. To help minimize waste and encourage recycling, a Green Team of volunteers helped spectators properly sort trash and educated them about better recycling practices. To engage children in science, a free STEM in Sports Center was full of activities and games that children could play – all based on sports and how they relate to STEM. Local sports teams and recreational centers contributed to the exhibit, which is now traveling to area schools and museums.
At first, science and sports may seem like an unlikely combination. Yet, they’re both about improving performance and breaking new ground. Both find ways to improve what humans are capable of.
With that in mind, we believe that collaborative partnerships between business and sporting events can drive engagement and advance a series of impactful sustainability projects in communities. That way, long after the competition is done and spectators have gone home, the positive legacy of these events lives on. And that’s a win for everyone.
Read more about the Dow GLBI and its community impact in the tournament’s newly published sustainability report.
Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety
The FRC published the UK Stewardship Code 20202 in October 2019. It includes a revised definition of stewardship:
Stewardship is the responsible allocation, management and oversight of capital to create long-term value for clients and beneficiaries, leading to sustainable benefits for the economy, the environment and society.
This is an expansive definition. The previous definition talked about risk-adjusted returns and ensuring benefit to clients and beneficiaries. This new definition recognises the role that sustainable and responsible investment plays in our economy and society. To a certain extent, this is a mirror of the Corporate Governance Code’s references to environmental and social as well as governance matters (section 172 of the Companies Act 2006) which benefit wider society.
IT BRINGS INTO PLAY SOME CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE:
An increasing demand among clients and beneficiaries for environmental and social factors to be brought into play when considering investment.
Broadening the asset classes to which stewardship is applied; until now the focus has largely been on public equity investments.
This is an all-encompassing definition of stewardship, which reflects how that should be reported. Not just talking about the twelve principles of stewardship, but the activities and outcomes surrounding it.
Through its regulation and working alongside the FRC, the FCA aims to ensure that firms are delivering good outcomes for their customers. For many firms, stewardship will be integral to this.
Stewardship is also central to the design and effectiveness of capital markets, helping to improve market quality and integrity. This is how stewardship plays a role in ensuring the creation of sustainable long-term value for clients and beneficiaries.
Effective stewardship therefore supports the FCA’s objective to make relevant markets function well. There is increasing appreciation for the role that stewardship can play in creating a long-term perspective, and through constructive oversight, helping to advance sustainability goals.
1.1 - QUESTION:
Who is responsible for stewardship and how does that fit into the investment chain? Do we conceptualise this as a shared responsibility?
Regulatory View Point
The effectiveness of stewardship is reliant on mutually supportive arrangements such as asset owners, asset managers, investment consultants and service providers working together towards a common goal.
There is individual and collective responsibility for stewardship. Each individual firm should be making appropriate investments in their stewardship capabilities and owning that. However, ultimately those investments will only reap rewards on the lines of the definition in the Code if there is alignment in objectives, and if all relevant parties across the institutional investment community come together to make stewardship happen.
The way the Code2 is drafted means the different players – the asset managers, asset owners, the consultants, the proxy advisors, et cetera – are all able to sign up to the Code, committing themselves to the general principles of stewardship, and to the specific elements of the Code that are aimed at them.
1.2 - QUESTION:
If the investment chain can be aligned to have individual and collective responsibility, who is account- able for stewardship being sufficient and effective? Who polices that, and who is accountable for that?
Investment Consultancy Viewpoint
Collectively positive things are said and intended, although at the micro level there is often quite strong tension on different views about a technical point for example, and that creates treacle in the system. This is why having detailed guidance and coding that everyone in the chain can reference is necessary. It creates the essential basis for success, but neither should it represent the limit of stewardship intention. Getting the right balance of principles and rules is key.
Everyone has accountability. A driver of accountability is the FRC deciding who can be a signatory of the Code on the basis of the quality of their reporting, in particular the evidence they provide on the activities and outcome of stewardship. If that doesn’t prove sufficient, the question arises: what other regulatory triggers do there need to be in the system?
Clients and customers have choices to make; if they do not judge that they have the evidence that stewardship is being done effectively, then they will make their choices accordingly.
Asset Manager Viewpoint
As part of the investment chain, companies play a very important role in stewardship. Companies are also responsible for allocating capital. Investors, especially asset managers, engage with companies to ensure the companies allocate capital properly. I believe that the concept of stewardship needs to put more emphasis on the company management.
Asset Owner Viewpoint
Asset Owner Viewpoint Many asset owners rely on their asset managers to carry out effective stewardship and engagement on their behalf. It is incumbent on those asset owners to properly hold those asset managers to account for the exercise of those responsibilities.
Techstars Atlanta is back and with a brand-new class of 10 startups. As the sole sponsor for the fifth consecutive year, Cox offers up-and-coming companies vital funding and advisement to expand Atlanta’s economy and culture of innovation.
“There are a number of unique qualities that make Atlanta ideal for startups,” said Mark Lewis, vice president of strategy and corporate development at Cox Enterprises. “Businesses have access to talent from the city’s powerhouse educational institutions, and the diverse community offers access to new ideas and ways of thinking. By attracting top talent and helping businesses scale, we are committed to making Atlanta a vibrant ecosystem.”
Get to know the class
Arrived (Seattle, Wash.) | A residential real estate company that empowers renters to build equity and accelerate their path to home ownership.
AutoDo-It (Alpharetta, Ga.) | A one-stop-shop community and e-commerce platform built to empower the DIY/DIFM automotive communities.
BOS Framework (Nashville, Tenn.) | A comprehensive approach to building better products faster, allowing developers to set up a new project in the cloud with DevOps and built-in functionality in under five minutes.
Growth Collective (Atlanta, Ga.) | A streamlined service that connects clients to its exclusive network of vetted, independent marketing talent.
Meal Me (Atlanta, Ga.) An app that helps users find restaurants from multiple food delivery apps and compares them to find the fastest and cheapest options.
Please Assist Me (Washington, D.C.) An all-in-one home management app that connects users with assistants who help with grocery shopping, errands, house cleaning and more.
Poppy (Washington, D.C.) A new, transparent way to buy wedding, event and gift flowers, powered by a network of floral designers working from home.
Swivl (Denver, Colo.). A service that combines natural language processing and its no-code workflow editor to automate customers’ most repetitive and expensive processes. Its method saves time, reduces stress and transforms customer engagement.
This App Saves Lives (Philadelphia, Pa.) A free mobile app that rewards drivers who choose not to engage in phone-based distracted driving.
Treasure (Toronto, Canada) An educational money app for kids that teaches them to save smart and spend wisely.
About the program
The 13-week program, usually based out of Ponce City Market in Midtown Atlanta, will be virtual this year. Mentor Madness, where more than 1,000 hours of mentorship is provided by leading subject matter experts, including Techstars staffers and Cox employees, will kick off the program. Techstars Atlanta will culminate in a virtual Demo Day on Oct. 19. All 10 startups will pitch to investors and community supporters.
For more information about Cox Enterprises’ involvement in the venture ecosystem, visit www.coxenterprises.com/innovation.
As part of the Mohawk Group CEU series and the manufacturer’s upcoming DesignFWD virtual summit, A&D design director Royce Epstein will be hosting and presenting “Color + Design Vision 2021: The Visual Age.”
The Visual Age is a new era where there is visual literacy and creative democracy for all.
For the 2021 Color + Design Vision, we will explore this new Visual Age in context of both existing and emerging trends of how the visual arts affect our viewpoints on life. We will examine how color, light, and pattern affect our lives. We will visualize future shifts in aesthetics for design and art as well. Categories for further exploration include: Filter Fluency, Sensory Immersion, Rendered Reality, and Altered Images.
The Design Forward Virtual Summit, styled DesignFWD, is an interactive digital platform and event from Mohawk Group that recreates the conference and trade show experience with inspirational chats, trend presentations, product demonstrations and more. The free event will be broadcast live July 15–17, 2020, and will be available on-demand at its conclusion. The three-day summit will inspire attendees and build off the momentum and excitement of NeoCon under an inaugural summit theme — “A New Path Forward.” DesignFWD includes directions for summer and fall 2020, and a look ahead to 2021, through the lens of exciting, interactive content. Digital roundtables, webinars, podcasts and other media will connect three distinct but interwoven paths: people, sustainability and product. Learn more about the DesignFWD Virtual Summit at www.MohawkGroup.com/DesignFWD.
HanesBrands, a leading global basic apparel marketer under leading consumer brands, announced its Chief Executive Officer Gerald W. Evans Jr. has been recognized as a most-admired CEO in the Piedmont Triad, North Carolina, region with a 2020 C-Suite Award from the Triad Business Journal.
Evans, a native of Florence, South Carolina, joined HanesBrands in 1983 after earning his MBA from the University of South Carolina. He served in a variety of roles, including international assignments and COO, before taking the helm as CEO in 2016.
“Gerald has been an invaluable member of the HanesBrands team during his 37 years of dedicated service,” said Ronald L. Nelson, the company’s chairman of the board. “Under his leadership, the company has expanded its geographic footprint; broadened its portfolio of premium brand offerings; and pioneered product, process and supply chain innovation to help transform Hanes into the world’s largest everyday basic apparel company.”
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Evans led the company’s effort to help fight the spread of the disease by converting production of apparel to production of more than 450 million washable and reusable all-cotton face masks. Evans also marshaled the company’s apparel design and manufacturing expertise to quickly fulfill the critical need of the U.S. government for more than 20 million medical gowns distributed to hospitals and healthcare facilities. HanesBrands is now manufacturing reusable fabric non-medical-grade fabric face masks, which are available to businesses and consumers.
“I am truly honored to be recognized with this award, but even more proud to represent HanesBrands’ 60,000-plus employees in North Carolina and around the globe,” Evans said. “What our amazing team has been able to accomplish through the years, even during some of the most challenging circumstances, has never ceased to impress me. That’s why this award is as much theirs as it is mine – and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Under Evans’ leadership, the company has increased earnings per share, strengthened its balance sheet, generated organic sales growth , increased annual revenue to nearly $7 billion, and generated a record $2.1 billion in cumulative operating cash flow over the past three years. Evans has guided rapid growth of the company’s international commercial operations, overseen the doubling of annual global Champion brand sales to nearly $2 billion, and championed increased consumer-directed sales with 25% of total revenue now occurring online or through brand stores.
Evans is an active member of the CEO Roundtable, a business group of company presidents, owners, and CEOs. He sits on the Valvoline board of directors and is a member of the group’s compensation and governance and nominating committees. During his tenure at HanesBrands, Evans and his wife, Lee, have been key leaders in the community, giving both their time and resources to support many organizations and initiatives.
Evans has announced he will be stepping down as HanesBrands CEO effective Aug. 3. Evans will oversee the leadership transition and remain as an advisor to the company through 2021. Stephen B. Bratspies, who most recently served as chief merchandising officer at Walmart Inc., will succeed Evans as HanesBrands CEO.
For more information, visit www.Hanes.com/corporate.
HanesBrands (NYSE: HBI) is a socially responsible leading marketer of everyday basic innerwear and activewear apparel in the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia-Pacific. The company markets T-shirts, bras, panties, shapewear, underwear, socks, hosiery, and activewear under some of the world’s strongest apparel brands, including Hanes, Champion, Bonds, Maidenform, DIM,Bali,Playtex, Bras NThings, Nur Die/Nur Der, Alternative, L’eggs, JMS/Just My Size, Lovable, Wonderbra, Berlei,and Gear for Sports. More information about the company and its award-winning corporate social responsibility initiatives may be found at www.Hanes.com/corporate. Visit our newsroom at https://newsroom.hanesbrands.com/. Connect with the company via social media: Twitter (@hanesbrands), Facebook (www.facebook.com/hanesbrandsinc), Instagram (@hanesbrands), and LinkedIn (@Hanesbrandsinc).
Matt Hall, 336-251-3689 (cell)
NRG Energy Supports Houston Area Urban League Toward Combatting Racial Inequities, Injustice and Related Violence
On June 30th, the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) announced that it will be the recipient of a $25,000 donation from NRG Energy, parent company to Reliant and part of a $1 million donation toward organizations and initiatives such as HAUL that combat racial inequalities, injustice and related violence.
“Today, our communities are overwhelmed with grief. We are heartsick over the inhumanity we have witnessed in the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” said Judson Robinson III, President and CEO. “For more than half a century, the Houston Area Urban League has been a voice for the poor and disadvantaged, empowering this sector with economic development, leadership, humanitarianism, community service and a steadfast commitment to developing our youth. With the support of partners like NRG, we will continue to be successful in these endeavors,” added Robinson.
“When facing racism and brutality, silence is not an option, it’s a call to action,” said Mauricio Gutierrez, President & CEO, NRG Energy. “NRG stands with our communities to improve racial equity where we live and work. We are honored to support Houston Area Urban League’s initiatives aimed at advancing civil rights and workforce development.”
NRG is making an initial donation of $25,000 to the Houston Area Urban League to support:
A Case Manager Specialist to lead Civil Rights assistance, policy, and community initiatives and communications.
Workforce Development Services: Designed to help families become economically stable, teaching techniques for job search, application, interview, and employment retention which will also include recruitment and job placement assistance.
Workforce Training: To provide clients certified occupational and soft skills training designed to remove employment barriers to earning livable wages.
The Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) was organized in the Houston community at a pivotal time (1968). While civil rights issues were being addressed nationally, it became a goal for business and community leaders in Houston to address those issues locally. The impetus for this goal was the awareness by those leaders that education, employment and training were essential to the economic survival of African American families.
For more information about our services or to make a donation, visit www.haul.org.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON AREA URBAN LEAGUE
The Houston Area Urban League, founded in 1968, is a United Way agency affiliated with the National Urban League. Its mission is to help African Americans and other minorities to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights.
ABOUT NRG ENERGY
At NRG, we’re bringing the power of energy to people and organizations by putting customers at the center of everything we do. We generate electricity and provide energy solutions and natural gas to more than 3.7 million residential, small business, and commercial and industrial customers through our diverse portfolio of retail brands. A Fortune 500 company, operating in the United States and Canada, NRG delivers innovative solutions while advocating for competitive energy markets and customer choice, and by working towards a sustainable energy future. More information is available at www.nrg.com. Connect with NRG on Facebook, LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy, @nrginsight.
Houston Area Urban League
Director of Fund Development
Director Corporate Communications
While the U.S. Constitution was founded on the principle of equality for all, the right to be free of discrimination based on sex is not currently an explicit right provided to Americans in the Constitution. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) seeks to remedy that gap and explicitly guarantee equality on the basis of sex, making gender equality a basic constitutional right. Recently, VF joined a number of other companies as an amici curiae in support of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Check out a Q&A on the subject with Laura Meagher, VF’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary.
Q: We understand there is a movement under way to officially ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution which was approved by the US Congress in the early 1970s. Can you share a little background on what the ERA is?
Many people may be surprised to hear this, but as the U.S. Constitution stands, it guarantees women the right to vote under the 19th Amendment, but it does not explicitly guarantee equality of men and women as a basic constitutional right. The Equal Rights Amendment is the proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution and it is designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all regardless of sex. In March 1972, the ERA passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support exceeding the two-thirds majorities required by the Constitution for an amendment. The text of the ERA is simple: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on the account of sex.
Q: Why has it taken so long to ratify this amendment given that it was approved by the US Congress 50 years ago?
The Constitution provides that ¾ or 38 states must ratify an amendment to the Constitution for it to take effect. At the time of its approval by Congress in 1972, the ERA was ratified by 35 states. Due to opposition movements arguing that the ERA would lead to gender-neutral bathrooms, same-sex marriage, and women in military combat, among other things, the ERA lost momentum. More recently, public interest has revived and in 2017, Nevada ratified, followed by Illinois in 2018, and finally on January 15, 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, pushing the ERA across the necessary threshold. However, the archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration has not yet certified the ERA’s adoption, which is necessary to conclude the ratification process, and has stated that the archivist will not certify Virginia’s ratification or add the ERA as an amendment to the Constitution until a federal court issues an order. Accordingly, Virginia, Illinois and Nevada filed a lawsuit to compel the archivist to certify the ERA. Among the issues that will be raised in the lawsuit are whether the ERA has not been properly ratified because ratification deadlines that Congress set after it approved the amendment have lapsed and because five states rescinded their prior approval.
Q: Over 90 companies are signing onto an amicus curiae brief that supports the ratification of the ERA. Can you help us understand what an amicus brief is and why VF decided to sign onto this effort?
An amicus curiae (Latin for friend of the court) brief is submitted to a court by someone who is not a party to a lawsuit but wants to provide insight, information, or expertise on the issue at hand, often because that party has interest in the outcome to the case. VF has joined with businesses spanning the country, who are deeply committed to principles of gender equality, diversity and inclusion and believe that the ERA is a means to advance the goal of gender equality, to submit an amicus curiae brief.
We, along with the other amici which include Twitter, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Chobani, Mastercard, Morgan Stanley, Google, Workday, salesforce.com and many more, believe that ratification of the ERA would send a powerful message about the nation’s commitment to gender equality and be transformational for the American economy. The core point of the brief is that by eliminating systemic barriers that impede women’s economic and social advancement, the ERA would result in a more just, vibrant, and productive America.
To put it simply, we at VF are strong proponents of gender equality, and we have a steadfast commitment to ensuring that women are fully able to participate in the economy, both as employees and consumers. Moreover, in addition to being a moral imperative, gender equality is proven to be good for business.
Q: Is there any significance to the timing of this effort? Why do you think this issue has come up again now?
The resurgence of the ERA is likely due to revival of women’s rights movements in the last several years, placing the importance of gender issues back on the nation’s agenda. This activism likely propelled Nevada to make a groundbreaking move to ratify the ERA approximately 40 years after the ratification process and for Illinois and Virginia to join shortly after.
In addition to the resurgence of women’s rights issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated systemic gender inequities, largely demonstrated by the financial hardship falling disproportionately on women, particularly women of color. Now, more than ever, we need gender equality as a stimulator of the economy as we emerge from the COVID-19 crises. Women’s participation in the workforce contributes to a diversified workplace, which results in a maximization of productivity, talent, creativity, and innovation.
This also enhances the competitive edge of U.S. businesses globally. Canada, Mexico, and The European Union already all explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sex in their constitutions and Charter, respectively. In fact, 85% of countries explicitly guarantee equal rights or non-discrimination based on sex or gender.
Q: What are the likely next steps in this process, and do you believe that the ERA will eventually be ratified as an amendment to the US Constitution?
There is currently a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration. Our amicus curiae brief opposes that motion to dismiss and expresses our steadfast commitment and support of the ERA and to gender equality.
Whether through the ratification of the current draft of the ERA, or through proposing a new draft of an ERA to be reapproved by Congress and ratified by ¾ of states, I strongly believe that the United States has a compelling interest in ratifying an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.
Q: What would ratification of the ERA actually mean? What would change?
The ratification of the ERA would mean that gender equality would be a constitutional right. As you know, the Constitution is where our most fundamental rights and liberties are enshrined, such as voting and free speech, and reflects who we are as a nation and what we stand for. This would enable us to have a consistent federal standard to address the gender and economic inequity that continues to pervade our system due to our patchwork of current laws. A violation of this constitutionally protected right would face strict scrutiny (the most rigorous test under the Constitution) in the courts. Additionally, sex equality would be used as a guiding principle for our nation and ratification would provide an additional basis for Congress to pass new laws to protect against discrimination on account of sex.
Q: How can VF associates who support the ERA get involved?
Track what is happening with the ERA and support legislative efforts to support the ERA, including ones to eliminate ratification deadlines. Also, keep up to date with important initiatives, including this one, that VF takes part in with respect to gender equality. We highly encourage VF associates to take advantage of our employee resource groups, such as the Women of VF Empowerment Network or “WOVEN.” We encourage all associates to think out the box on additional ways to make a meaningful impact to the cause.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I would like to extend a special thanks to Jennifer Sim, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, for taking the lead on this important initiative in partnership with Kellye Gordon, Rayan Naouchi, and the Inclusion and Diversity Team.
Sixty Minutes with Hazel Henderson: Transitioning to Science-Based Investing (Security and Sustainability Forum)
Join me and in a sixty minute webinar with Hazel Henderson, world renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, worldwide syndicated columnist, and leader in sustainable development. We will discuss science-based investing, which is the focus of the 2019/20 edition of her Green Transition Scoreboard Report.
Hazel is the founder of Ethical Markets Media, Certified B Corporation and the creator and co-executive Producer of its TV series. She is the author of The Axiom and Nautilus award-winning book Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and eight other books. She co-edited, with Harlan Cleveland and Inge Kaul, The UN: Policy and Financing Alternatives, Elsevier Scientific, UK 1995 (US edition, 1996), and co-authored with Japanese Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda, Planetary Citizenship (2004).
Don't miss an opportunity to engage with one of the most transformational economic leaders of our time.
I hope you'll join this course.
Tetra Tech's Branko Primetica Discusses the Importance of Integrating Security With Development and Operations
Branko Primetica has more than 20 years of experience as an information technology (IT) executive in process and performance improvement, DevSecOps, technology modernization, and artificial intelligence. Branko has supported multiple U.S. federal agencies with these initiatives, resulting in more than $300 million in cost savings due to integration of emerging technology and consolidation and modernization of redundant IT systems.
A thought leader and published author, Branko has been recognized for his achievements and expertise with multiple awards, including the Rising Star Award and the Fed 100 Award. He received a certification of recognition from American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT/IAC) and was named a finalist for the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Innovator of the Year Award. Branko also has co-authored various industry-focused publications, including the Practical Guide to Federal Service Oriented Architecture, the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, the U.S. Government’s IPv6 Transition Roadmap, and the Federal Risk Authorization Management (FedRAMP) guidelines. Additionally, he has served as a co-lead for the National Defense Transportation Association’s Mentoring Program, served on the U.S. Cloud Computing Commission, and has consulted for global forums on current IT trends (including the U.S. Congress, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the governments of Serbia and Poland).
What led you to your current position at Tetra Tech?
I started my career as a management consultant with a college degree in political science and history. My first two projects involved complex business process re-engineering efforts to streamline and modernize mission-focused functions at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Department of Defense (DoD). I realized early on that the “modernization” part was enabled by technology—the two go together. The further I got into consulting, the more involved I became with emerging technologies, their overall function, and how to architect it so that it integrates seamlessly into a client’s environment. This also allowed me to grow our business portfolio across the federal public sector—even working on government-wide transformation efforts.
How does DevSecOps ultimately lead to more secure applications and faster cloud deployments?
DevSecOps stands for the integration of development, security, and operations, with all three teams working together to deliver a solution in an agile manner. DevSecOps incorporates lean practices, such as continuous integration and continuous delivery, that include frequent code check-in, version control, test automation, and continuous feedback. The results of this integration include bigger resource savings, higher quality products, and a quicker deployment time.
The integration of security teams into the development and operations processes ensures that security is considered from a project’s inception. DevSecOps involves creating a “Security as Code” culture with ongoing collaboration between release engineers and security teams. This means that security protocols are baked into the development process rather than added as a separate step and that security testing is automated in most cases. The benefits include greater agility for security teams, enabling them to respond to changes rapidly, and early identification of vulnerabilities in code.
What are some of the major challenges and complexities facing DevSecOps projects today?
The biggest challenges facing DevSecOps today are not technical but cultural. Most organizations are used to developing IT systems in a traditional “waterfall” approach where development, security, and operations are undertaken by three separate teams working in silos. This results in a long-established “dev versus ops” mentality that now needs to change because it is inefficient and takes too long to achieve meaningful results.
Another challenge faced by public sector clients is defining a standard DevSecOps process and toolkit at the enterprise level. While there are DevSecOps projects across the government, they are mostly IT-project specific, using different tools and frameworks even though they might be within the same organization. This makes overall IT procurement, governance, and management very difficult.
Finally, many organizations tend to neglect test automation while focusing on continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) deployments. Continuous testing is key for DevSecOps success.
What changes have you seen in DevSecOps and cybersecurity during your career?
The fact that DevSecOps has come about and that cybersecurity is becoming an integral part of the IT development and operations process from a project’s onset is a hugely positive change. Security used to be an afterthought and it now has a seat at the table.
Proactive cybersecurity, rather than reactive cybersecurity, is also a positive change. Continuous security testing throughout the development life cycle and continuous monitoring once the IT system is in operation ensures that vulnerabilities and risks are effectively managed in a timely manner.
As part of the Mohawk Group CEU series and the manufacturer’s upcoming DesignFWD virtual summit, senior sustainability manager Rami Vagal will be hosting and presenting “Integrating Health and Wellbeing into the Foundation of the Built Environment.”
This accredited course discusses the built environment and its impact on human health and wellbeing. With the increased awareness and rapidly growing focus on health and wellness, there is data and research that proves the impact that buildings can have on human health. It is also important to understand the true meaning of overall wellbeing. Using the WELL Building Standard as the main catalyst, this course examines the number of ways buildings have an impact on occupant wellbeing through design, quality of space and products, as well as the benefits and the types of effects it creates.
The CEU also addresses the 10 new concepts of WELL v2 and how those patterns are incorporated into products and architectural design. Additionally, the course focuses on understanding how green building and healthy building complement each other and are important to realize the true benefits of holistic sustainability.
The Design Forward Virtual Summit, styled DesignFWD, is an interactive digital platform and event from Mohawk Group that recreates the conference and trade show experience with inspirational chats, trend presentations, product demonstrations and more. The free event will be broadcast live July 15–17, 2020, and will be available on-demand at its conclusion. The three-day summit will inspire attendees and build off the momentum and excitement of NeoCon under an inaugural summit theme — “A New Path Forward.” DesignFWD includes directions for summer and fall 2020, and a look ahead to 2021, through the lens of exciting, interactive content. Digital roundtables, webinars, podcasts and other media will connect three distinct but interwoven paths: people, sustainability and product. Learn more about the DesignFWD Virtual Summit at www.MohawkGroup.com/DesignFWD.
One of the world's deadliest viral diseases was discovered in 1976 in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), near the Ebola River.
Since then, there have been 30 outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)—the worst of which hit in West Africa in 2014. During that two-year epidemic, more than 11,000 people died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Two in five individuals who were infected with the disease, then lost their lives.
In the meantime, Johnson & Johnson had already begun working on a potential vaccine for filoviruses—a family of viruses that includes Ebola. In the wake of the 2014 outbreak, the company accelerated those efforts with a focus on Ebola, and continued that work even when the crisis in West Africa had passed.
So when Ebola hit the DRC again in 2018—in what is now known as the second worst outbreak of the disease in history—Johnson & Johnson was prepared to help.
And today, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have received the first approval of the Ebola vaccine regimen: Marketing Authorization from the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union.
While the 2018 outbreak was declared over on June 25 of this year, a new outbreak surfaced in another part of the DRC on June 1, underscoring the ongoing need for prevention tools.
In light of this approval, we've rounded up the latest facts about Janssen's Ebola vaccine regimen, including lessons learned from its development that could help in the fight against COVID-19.1. Research on Janssen's investigational Ebola vaccine regimen began in 2014
Spurred on by the West African Ebola epidemic in 2014, Johnson & Johnson committed to accelerating development and expanding production of a lead two-dose vaccine regimen, combining a Janssen vaccine as the first dose and contracting the second dose of the regimen from Bavarian Nordic A/S.
The company launched multiple clinical trials across the United States, Europe and Africa for the investigational Ebola vaccine regimen in collaboration with global research consortia supported by Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative, which is funded through the EU's Horizon 2020 program, as well as other global partners.
It also established partnerships with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to speed the development and manufacture of the vaccine regimen.2. The first dose of the Ebola vaccine regimen uses the same technology as the investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate the company is researching for the novel coronavirus
The Ebola vaccine regimen is comprised of two doses, each containing a different "carrier viral vector." The vector administered in the first dose is based on Janssen’s AdVac® technology; the vector administered in the second dose is based on MVA-BN® technology from Bavarian Nordic.
Each technology uses a different type of virus that has been modified so it can safely replicate in humans and safely carry the genetic code for one or more proteins from a second, target virus—in this case, the Ebola virus.
The proteins produced by the genetic code trigger an immune response against the Ebola virus without actually causing the disease itself. And because the carrier viruses are modified, they don't cause illness either.
Janssen's AdVac viral vector platform is the same technology that's being researched in its investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus, as well as in investigational vaccines being researched for HIV, RSV and Zika.
3. In response to the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, Johnson & Johnson committed to donating up to 700,000 doses of its vaccine to people at risk in the DRC and the Republic of Rwanda
Ebola emerged again in the DRC in 2018, ultimately leading to more than 3,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,000 deaths.
In the wake of the outbreak, Johnson & Johnson announced in 2019 that it would provide up to 500,000 vaccine regimens for a new clinical study to make the vaccine available to individuals at some risk of Ebola infection who live in areas close to the outbreak zone, with the goal of helping prevent further geographic spread of the disease.
The study was implemented by the DRC's Ministry of Health and National Institute of Biomedical Research and supported by global health organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, Epicentre and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
That decision was followed later in the year by a commitment to provide up to 200,000 vaccine regimens to the neighboring Republic of Rwanda to help stop the outbreak from crossing the DRC border.4. Approximately 60,000 people have been vaccinated with the first dose of Janssen's Ebola vaccine regimen to date
The nearly 60,000 people who've begun the preventive Ebola vaccine regimen did so as part of clinical studies and vaccination initiatives.Data which have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals such as JAMA suggest that the vaccine regimen is well-tolerated and induces robust and durable immune responses against the same strain of the Ebola virus that was responsible for the West African and DRC outbreaks. 5. A newly announced European authorization is a major milestone for this Ebola vaccine
Today, the European Commission granted Marketing Authorization for Janssen's Ebola vaccine regimen, making it the first approved vaccine to be developed using Janssen’s vaccine technologies.
Janssen is now collaborating with the World Health Organization on vaccine pre-qualification, which, if granted, will help facilitate broader access and accelerate registration of its Ebola vaccine regimen in African countries to help those most in need.
“The approval of Janssen’s Ebola vaccine regimen in the EU is a landmark moment for this company," says Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “The approval symbolizes the progress we have made as a company towards achieving our vision of delivering vaccines to communities most at risk of deadly infectious diseases, such as Ebola. Building on our history of redefining treatment paradigms, we are committed to bringing forward vaccines to help overcome the threat of some of the world’s most life-threatening infectious diseases.”
What if old plastic bottles and wrappers became key ingredients in creating new ones? Through our partnership with Fuenix Ecogy, we’re taking hard-to-recycle plastics to create new polymers for packaging for food and other items.
FROM RENEWABLE FEEDSTOCK TO FOOD PACKAGING
Brand owners and consumers want to use more recyclable and renewable material in their packaging, but they don’t want to compromise on performance. Chemical or feedstock recycling – a process that recovers the original raw materials to be remade into high-quality resins – offer an answer.
“We want to help consumers feel good about plastic packaging and have them know when they're done with it, the packaging will be reused,” said Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics. “But mechanical recycling has its limitations. Our partnership with Fuenix is an important step forward to increase feedstock recycling.”
Under the partnership, the Netherlands-based Fuenix will supply Dow with feedstock made from recycled plastics using a process known as pyrolysis. Pyrolysis breaks down polymers into oil. The oil then will be used as a feedstock to produce new polymers at our Terneuzen facility. The polymers produced from pyrolysis oil will be identical to products produced from traditional feedstocks and can be used in the same applications, including food packaging.
Find out more about the process.
Mechanical recycling is primarily intended for larger volume treatment of mono-materials, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles. Some plastic items, like the thin films used to protect food, are difficult to recycle. Feedstock recycling enables these hard-to-recycle, end-of-life plastics to retain their value and find a second life as a feedstock.
CONTRIBUTING TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Not only does feedstock recycling help a wider range plastic waste be recycled and reused, it saves raw materials and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In fact, recycling just a metric ton of plastic could reduce carbon emissions by 1-3 tons of CO2 equivalents when compared to virgin plastic production, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Closing the loop on plastics production also helps contribute to Dow’s newly announced sustainability targets. These commitments are designed to help advance a circular economy and move our Company toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Learn more about our targets.
“When it comes to addressing climate change and plastic waste, we are collaborating to find answers on several fronts,” says Wooster. “This includes innovating new technologies to make and use recycled plastic and investing in building the circular economy by empowering communities to build up the infrastructure to improve recycling.”
To learn more about how Dow is accelerating its sustainability actions, see our 2019 Sustainability Report.
Mohawk Group has officially announced the speaker lineup and schedule for its inaugural Design Forward Virtual Summit, styled DesignFWD, which takes place exclusively online July 15–17. The free digital event will broadcast programming that features industry experts, inspirational speakers, roundtables, webinars, podcasts and more, all thoughtfully curated to inspire attendees — many of whom continue to work remotely.
“DesignFWD allows us to continue important conversations around design and sustainability so that we can be inspired, challenged and compelled to act in unprecedented times,” said Jackie Dettmar, Mohawk Group’s vice president of design and product development. “We are excited to share this engaging new series with our community as a meaningful way to unite in spirit and in purpose to stay connected until we can gather again.”
DesignFWD’s inaugural theme is “A New Path Forward,” which includes directions for summer and fall 2020, and a look ahead to 2021 through the lens of exciting, interactive content across three distinct but interwoven paths: people, sustainability and product. Registration for the three-day virtual summit is free. Using the interactive platform found at MohawkGroup.com/DesignFWD, registered guests can customize their schedules and set reminders for each session.
One of the summit's featured guests will be empowerment speaker, life strategist and author Sheri Riley, who will be presenting on the notion of exponential living as part of the personal path of the summit. Riley’s central message on the final morning of the summit will demonstrate to attendees how to define and successfully move their personal paths forward, even in the midst of unforeseen circumstances. The award-winning life coach and author of “Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are” is based in Atlanta. Riley previously worked for two decades creating innovative marketing strategies for Usher, TLC, Toni Braxton, Converse, the NBA, BMW, and Turner, among others.
Other special guests and collaborators that will make appearances during the summit include designers Anastasija and Martin Lesjak of 13&9 and INNOCAD, and Jason F. McLennan, together with members of Mohawk’s design and leadership teams.
During the summit, Mohawk Group will debut two new CEUs. “Integrating Health and Wellbeing into the Foundation of the Built Environment” will be presented by senior sustainability manager Rami Vagal on Thursday, July 16, at 11 a.m. On Friday, July 17, at 11 a.m., A&D design director Royce Epstein will present “Color & Design Vision 2021: The Visual Age.” Both sessions offer industry-recognized accreditation to those who watch live during the virtual summit.
Additional programming will include a virtual NeoCon showroom tour and networking breaks, as well as FWD Speak, a special storytelling segment focused on the intersection of human-centered design and sustainability.
Mohawk Group will also be highlighting its p.s. (Personal Studio) visualization tool. P.s. is the first of its kind as a single consolidated carpet personalization design tool that can handle every construction type and allows for real-time rendering of carpet during the recoloring process. Three-dimensional virtual environments enable users to more accurately scale flooring products and shadows as a better simulation for visualization purposes. Outputs include digital, paper and physical samples of the chosen designs.
DesignFWD will culminate with a Friday afternoon Instagram Live party featuring sets by DJ Protégé, a Chicago-based artist that has worked alongside such musicians as Drake and Cardi B.
To access the full schedule, register and sign up to receive the latest information, visit MohawkGroup.com/DesignFWD. Once the event has been broadcast, all webinars, podcasts, presentations and other content will be archived for registered users to reference at their convenience between the event’s close and NeoCon 2021.
About Mohawk Group
As the world’s leading producer and distributor of quality commercial flooring, Mohawk Group believes that better floor coverings emerge from better design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. Mohawk Group addresses the unique challenges and opportunities in contract interiors with a comprehensive carpet and hard surface portfolio of all types and price points. As the commercial division of Mohawk Industries, the company has a heritage of craftsmanship that spans more than 130 years. To learn more about our full line of flooring products, please visit MohawkGroup.com.
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Today, MovingWorlds, SPC. announces a new revenue growth program for social enterprises, S-GRID, to support recovery efforts post-COVID.
S-GRID, or sustainable growth of revenues for international development, is launching in partnership with SAP to ensure a sustainable recovery from the COVID trigger recession. It will help social enterprises build the skills and capacity needed to plug their social and/or environmental-positive solutions into global value chains and international corporations. S-GRID is a first step in creating a regenerative economy and more equitable recovery.
"S-GRID is the first program of its kind to help social enterprises build the skills, know-how, and connections needed to participate in global supply chains, and in a way they can truly deliver social impact,” said Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of SAP Corporate Social Responsibility. “With the socio-economic implications of COVID-19 hitting social enterprises across the world especially hard, SAP is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to accelerating the social enterprise sector through access to talent, technology and markets. SAP has a powerful platform to help the private sector put their money where their purpose is and scale the social enterprise sector. Corporations today spend trillions of dollars - 3 trillion on SAP Ariba’s platform alone - related to sourcing and distribution chains. Imagine the positive impact that could be made through procurement spend if just a few percent is directed towards social-first organizations."
Annually, governments contribute over $150 Billion in aid and nonprofit donations hover around $400 Billion per year. Combined, this philanthropy is less than 4% of the world’s GDP and it’s not creating the scalable impact needed. Corporations acknowledge this and are heavily investing in improving the sustainability, equity, and transparency of their supply chains because they are competing for consumers, who are demanding more sustainable products. According to JUST Capital, “almost nine in 10 Americans agree that this [COVID] is an opportunity for large companies to hit “reset” and focus on doing right by their stakeholders.”
A few corporate innovators are leading the way: Patagonia partners with suppliers who increase transparency of their supply chains; Dandelion chocolates sources more ethical, higher quality beans from Maya Mountain Cacao; Microsoft reaches emerging market enterprises and engineers through Mawingu networks. But partnerships are limited and corporations struggle to find social enterprises that have the know-how and systems to connect into more efficient supply chains. S-GRID will fill this gap.
By providing on-going and on-demand training, peer-based support, and pro bono consulting, S-GRID helps social enterprises position their products and services in a way that will attract the growing demand from the corporate sector. The program will also help team members within each enterprise develop the business development skills needed to engage in the sector.
“What makes this moment in time so pivotal is that inequities and environmental degradation tend to increase after recessions,” said Mark Horoszowski, CEO and co-founder of MovingWorlds, SPC. “By investing in social enterprises today, we can help them integrate into the post-COVID recovery to better distribute wealth while using regenerative business models to address the ongoing environmental crisis.”
Social enterprises that are accepted into the S-GRID program will benefit from MovingWorlds’ long-term partnerships with corporations like Kering, educational materials from some of the worlds’ top social enterprise accelerators like Village Capital, business development theory from institutions like University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, and a global network of skills-based pro bono support from employees of companies like SAP.
"As a start-up, we have participated in many accelerators, but we are particularly keen to apply for S-GRID,” said Louise Bleach, business development manager at Desolenator. “We are excited by the prospect of whole team training but especially the potential to form strategic corporate partnerships. Building meaningful connections in the corporate sphere is a challenge faced by all small enterprises. As such, we are looking forward to exploring how S-GRID is able to accelerate and foster these connections so we can focus on what we do best - providing water to those at the forefront of the water crisis."
S-GRID is the first social enterprise support program to operate with an on-demand model, meaning there is no start or end date, and accepted social enterprises can receive support for as long they need it, available to the social entrepreneur, and all other members of the team. S-GRID is now accepting applications from mission-driven organizations around the world.
MovingWorlds, SPC is a Social Purpose Corporation. At MovingWorlds, we scale social impact programs by building the skills, know-how, and connections of people working on world-changing ideas. Through partnerships with corporations, impact investors, accelerators, and more, MovingWorlds is helping to accelerate the growth of a global social enterprise movement. MovingWorlds has offices in Seattle, USA; Lisbon, Portugal; and Medellin, Colombia.
“If we had relied solely on temperature and respiratory symptom screening for COVID-19, we would’ve put our people and patients at risk,” said Dr. Larisa Lucas, the Medical Director of several skilled nursing facilities that participated in the pilot. “Broad surveillance testing was especially critical early on to help us identify asymptomatic COVID patients so that we could prepare facilities for patient care and help staff protect themselves in their interactions with residents.”
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term nursing facilities in Massachusetts have faced adverse challenges to keep their residents and the heroes that care for them safe. In response, Tara Gregorio, President of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, launched a first-of-its-kind surveillance testing pilot program to conduct regular testing of nursing home patients and staff at 6 local facilities over the course of six weeks.
The goal with surveillance testing is to detect the virus earlier by routinely testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic nursing home residents and staff, a critical measure to saving lives. By testing everyone living and working under one roof, MSCA was able to understand how to contain the spread of the virus by creating separate cohorts for those that tested negative and positive for the virus and consolidate the PPE to take care of COVID positive patients throughout their quarantine.
The pilot, which was funded in part by the Biogen Foundation, provided weekly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to all patients and staff members at participating facilities. Regular testing of nursing home staff was a key component of this pilot because these front-line workers are at particular risk during the COVID crisis as many take on extra shifts or work at multiple facilities with a population that is already susceptible to the virus. By providing staff with weekly PCR testing, they were able to take extra precautions in their work and go home to their families with peace of mind. The success of the initial 6-week pilot has led to an extension of testing and introduced bi-weekly serology testing, commonly known as anti-body testing, to help detect previous infection in people who had few or no COVID-19 symptoms.
“Biogen’s support directly benefitted nursing homes and showed documented proof to state leaders what can be done with surveillance testing,” said Simon Johnson, MIT Professor and co-chair of the COVID-19 Policy Alliance. “This advocacy through action helped demonstrate the need to scale these programs state and nation-wide.”
Biogen is honored to support organizations like the Massachusetts Senior Care Association that are not only protecting the most vulnerable during the crisis, but that are contributing to a better national conversation about COVID-19 and how society can manage spread of the virus. This pilot has led to ongoing conversations with other states about surveillance testing, including a presentation to the National Governor’s Associations, and the Massachusetts Department of Health to issue a memorandum that skilled nursing facilities adopt surveillance testing programs.
As a graduate student in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Albert Manero always wanted to use his engineering skills to change the world. One morning in 2013, he caught a glimpse of how he might do it.
“I heard a radio interview with a man who developed the first 3D-printed mechanical hand, shared his design, and essentially started a global movement of makers,” Manero says. “I was determined to help by bringing whatever skills and lab resources I could to the project.”
It wasn’t long before a family in Orlando reached out to Manero with a slightly modified request — something he and his fellow classmates hadn’t tried before. “They asked if we could build a bionic arm for their six-year-old son,” he says. “Their request was a little intimidating and also exciting. We knew if we could assemble the right team of engineers and designers that we could do it. Within eight weeks, we had a prototype, and that’s when Limbitless Solutions was born.”
Limbitless Solutions finds its inspiration
Manero was soon consumed with the project. Juggling classes and international research, he and his fellow students established a nonprofit organization on the UCF campus. Their focus: making low-cost, lightweight, personalized bionic arms at no cost to families. Making the limbs financially accessible is key. A bionic limb can traditionally cost as much as $50,000 — something that is unaffordable for many families, especially since a bionic limb requires replacement every few years as a child grows.
Coming up with the mission was a great start, but the real inspiration came when they looked at the problem through the eyes of children with limb differences. Even when kids can get traditional prosthetics or bionic limbs, they may be embarrassed to wear them or simply have a hard time seeing the device as an integrated part of themselves.
“Kids with limb differences often face challenges. Our mistake was to assume they just want to blend in and feel normal,” says Manero, now president of Limbitless. “When we started talking with them, we realized that these kids want to be seen and celebrated for who they are — superheroes."
That insight made Limbitless what it is today. The team has grown from its initial group of engineers to include artists, designers, developers, and around 25 student interns each semester from across engineering, marketing, and arts disciplines at UCF. The result is a blend of science and creativity that is evident in every bionic arm the organization develops.
Personal designs empower kids to express themselves
Kids are especially excited about the fact that each arm is custom-designed to reflect their unique personality. They get to collaborate with students from the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design to create personalized outer sleeves using creative tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Then, the Limbitless art and painting team uses Photoshop, Illustrator, Dimension, and Substance Painter, along with professional airbrushing equipment, to give each bionic arm its unique character.
Together, they’ve designed arms that look like everything from a bouquet of flowers to the arm of Iron Man. This creative expression is crucial for creating a sense of ownership, empowerment, and confidence in each and every child.
Annika Emmert, 15, one of Limbitless’s bionic kids, was 10 when she received her first arm. “I can’t even begin to explain the opportunities I’ve had since meeting the amazing people from Limbitless,” Emmert says. “The fact tht I got to design my own bionic arm makes me feel good about wearing it. It has changed my life for the better."
That blend of creativity and engineering comes through in everything Limbitless does, including the apps it develops. Kids learn how to control their new arms by playing Limbitless Runner and Limbitless Adventure — games built using Adobe XD, Mixamo, Fuse, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate. These fun, immersive games help limb recipients get comfortable with flexing their muscles to produce movements and gestures. That training is key to faster adoption. Testing the effectiveness of the training games in relation to adoption of the arms has been an integral part of their first clinical trial. Preliminary testing shows positive results for use of training games to accelerate the ability to use the bionic arm.
For families, there’s an app for bionic arm calibration, troubleshooting, and family support chat. The organization has even developed an app and a website portal that allows families to customize their bionic designs online. Both were designed and prototyped in Adobe XD.
Visual storytelling changes the conversation around limb differences
Limbitless is more than halfway through the clinical trials on its bionic arms. Once complete, FDA certification will enable the prosthetics to be covered by insurance, thereby making the arms more accessible to children with limb differences. In the meantime, the non-profit is working hard to raise awareness and attract funding. Visual storytelling is central to its efforts.
The advocacy and marketing team’s top priority is to share the Limbitless mission through the website, social media, flyers, and posters, and they rely on Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, XD, and Spark to do so. Videos on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, created using Adobe Premiere Pro, Premiere Rush, and After Effects, are particularly effective in communicating the Limbitless mission and celebrating limb recipients.
“Limbitless' sole focus is not only on the technology, such as our bionic arms, but the children using the technology, their families, their lives, and their stories,” says Mrudula Peddinti, Branding Director at Limbitless Solutions. “Creative storytelling goes beyond scientific data and statistics about a device. It adds emotional impact and the humanity behind the prosthetic. Our role is not only to develop and provide accessible technology, but also utilize the power of visuals to amplify our bionic kids' and families' voices and stories to build awareness throughout the rest of the community. This is what allows Limbitless to not only garner genuine buy-in and support of our mission, but also empower our bionic kids.”
The Limbitless bionic kids themselves are helping to raise awareness using visual storytelling. , and now they have their own comic. The Bionic Kid comic series is the brainchild of then 10-year-old Zachary Pamboukas, who received his first bionic arm in 2016, and his older brother, Christo. The two boys came up with the idea to raise money for other kids in need of bionic arms, writing the story and even helping with the illustrations. The comic is helping to change the conversation around limb differences.
“’Bionic Beginnings’ is the amazing origin story of the Bionic Kid, Zachary, a boy who confronts a bully through nonviolent means and ultimately becomes a superhero. It shows how to openly communicate about disabilities,” says Manero. “A group SVAD professors, Limbitless illustrators, and undergraduate interns sat down with Zachary and Christo to bring the story to life in Photoshop, Illustrator and Spark. We even had the boys draw some of the details to make sure the storyline and characters were just right.”Building a STEAM-powered maker space
When Manero realized how important it was to blend art with engineering, he contacted Matt Dombrowski, assistant professor in the School of Visual Arts and Design at UCF. Dombrowski has been instrumental in pulling the thread of creativity through every team and building an academic program that’s truly “STEAM-powered.”
“The idea is to blur the lines among disciplines and show students how to work at the intersection of art and engineering,” says Dombrowski. “We believe creativity is an essential skill for everyone — which is why Adobe Creative Cloud is embedded in everything we do.”
That multidisciplinary approach is a driving force for Limbitless, and the organization will soon have an ideal space for its design-driven engineering to flourish. The non-profit plans to open a new lab on the UCF campus, partially funded by Adobe, which will increase safety, ramp up production to help kids in need, and expand the educational impact for students. This new facility will amplify production up to 10x!
The new Limbitless Learning Lab will more than triple the organization’s square footage, allowing more room for 3D printing, laser-cutting, airbrushing, and injection molding equipment. It will also include conference rooms and training areas, ideal for K–12 field trips and summer STEAM camps that teach the value of importance of creativity and expose students to the three pillars of the Limbitless mission: engineering design, artful expression, and gamified training. Limbitless has already hosted field trips for several high school classes, and the new space will allow the organization to expand the program, empowering the next generation of innovators.
Manero also wants to provide a safe space for staff and students to try new ideas and tackle new challenges as they arise, a philosophy that came into play during the COVID-19 crisis. Early in the pandemic, Limbitless quickly repurposed its manufacturing space to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for local healthcare providers. Employing the capabilities of Adobe Creative Cloud, the team utilized Lightroom and Photoshop to process the images of the designed protective visors imprinted with the messages love, hope, compassion, and thank you — yet another sign of its emphasis on creativity and the human spirit. The organization also helped manufacture parts for one of the world’s first 3D-printed mechanical ventilators, supplementing supplies for hospitals dealing with an influx of respiratory patients.
"We're so fortunate to have the opportunity to make an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that this isn't the last challenge we're going to face,” says Manero. “We want to give students a place where they can pursue creative ideas about how to empower individuals and entire communities.”
Limbitless goes full STEAM ahead
For Manero and his team, the journey has been challenging and rewarding. The growing family of bionic kids inspires them to keep improving bionic arm technology and expand design options. More than 160 Limbitless interns have gained valuable 21st century STEAM learning skills, and many have gone on to make their mark in art, game development, software, and even accessible technology. And the future looks even better.
“Combining immense creative talent and passion with technology and engineering, we can change the world with solutions that are not only functional, but also beautiful, expressive, and empowering,” says Manero. “That’s really the heart of our mission at Limbitless.”
LIXIL Teams Up with Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group to Distribute Face Shields Across the U.S.
LIXIL Americas and the Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG) today announced a partnership that will enable expanded production and distribution of face shields to first responders and medical workers in communities across the US battling COVID-19. The collaboration between LIXIL, a water technology company known for its kitchen and bath brands American Standard and GROHE, and JCRMRG, a newly formed volunteer group based in Jersey City, NJ that creates hospital-approved face shields, has united the individual efforts of both groups, enabling them to significantly scale production of the much-needed personal protective equipment to make up to 10,000 shields per day.
In partnership, LIXIL will donate 50,000 face shields within communities it serves across the US. Employees interested in supporting the cause will be provided with face shields to assemble with their families and empowered to donate the shields to frontline workers in their respective communities.
“Our LIXIL team is deeply dedicated to the role we play in delivering quality and safe water that improves the health and well-being of everyone. With our headquarters in such close proximity to an area of the country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, our team immediately stepped up to help, volunteering time to help make urgently needed PPE for the local medical community and first responders,” said Troy Benavidez, vice president of public affairs, LIXIL Americas. “Having been connected to the volunteers at the Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group, we realized that we shared a common goal, and we are proud to partner with their team to significantly bolster both our efforts and expand our reach to front-line workers throughout communities in NJ and the US.”
In partnership with LIXIL, JCRMRG was able to fund, design, and build the manufacturing equipment that enabled an increase in face shield production to 10,000 units per day. This marks a significant milestone for the volunteer-run operation, providing the ability to leverage injection molding to manufacture face shields at 50 times the previous production capacity while keeping costs significantly lower than traditional manufacturers.
“LIXIL has a history of corporate responsibility initiatives, and we are thrilled that our partnership will bring face shields to a greater number of healthcare workers and first responders,” said Justin Handsman, founder, JCRMRG. “In just two months we went from a call to action in a Reddit group for local makers to help manufacture PPE on 3D printers, to delivering over 1,000 face shields per week to healthcare workers. Now, with the support of LIXIL, we now have the capacity to manufacture 50,000 face shields per week, enabling us to help more first responders and frontline workers as they continue to battle COVID-19.”
JCRMRG is currently looking for support from other companies across the country interested in helping donate additional shields to first responders. If interested in becoming part of this ongoing effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere. Drawing on our Japanese heritage, we create world-leading technology and innovate to make high quality products that transform homes. But the LIXIL difference is how we do this; through meaningful design, an entrepreneurial spirit, a dedication to improving accessibility for all, and responsible business growth. Our approach comes to life through industry leading brands, including INAX, GROHE, American Standard, and TOSTEM. Approximately 75,000 colleagues operating in more than 150 countries are proud to make products that touch the lives of more than a billion people every day. Learn more at www.lixil.com and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
JCRMRG is an all-volunteer group that was formed by Justin Handsman after he put a request on Reddit for 3D printers in Jersey City, New Jersey to organize to make much needed face shields for first responders and medical workers in the immediate area who were faced with significant shortages. In less than eight weeks, the JCRMRG engaged more than 50 volunteers, and have delivered thousands of face shields to local healthcare workers. The group also reached a significant milestone with the ability to leverage injection molding to manufacture face shields, giving 50x production capacity and the ability to produce 50,000 face shields a week. The group will continue to raise funds to produce face shields throughout the COVID crisis, and hopes to deploy their capabilities to support future humanitarian initiatives. Learn more at jcrmrg.org and follow our work on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Ashley Strang | 914-282-8476 | email@example.com
Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group
"AIDS Won't Stop for COVID-19": Meet 3 Inspiring Women Who Are as Committed as Ever to Making HIV History
When COVID-19 reached pandemic status, life as most of the world knew it came to a grinding halt. Yet for the scientists, activists and advocates working on HIV/AIDS research, education and awareness, their critical work marched forward.
After all, “HIV doesn’t care that COVID-19 is circulating,” says Macaya Douoguih, M.D., M.P.H., Head of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs, Janssen Vaccines, a Janssen Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson. Which is why Dr. Douoguih and her team have continued their crucial research on a potential HIV vaccine—along with countless others who are working tirelessly to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
It’s also the reason why the International AIDS Society (IAS) continued with their plans for its 23rd annual conference this year, transforming it into a virtual event. AIDS 2020 will give participants access to breaking science and data on HIV/AIDS, as well as a special one-day meeting on how COVID-19 is impacting the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world.
To kick off this year’s conference—where Johnson & Johnson will be presenting the first episode of Season 2 of "The Road to a Vaccine," a live video series about efforts to create a potential COVID-19 vaccine—we sat down with three attendees who are more emboldened than ever on their mission to defeat the disease, even as the world continues to battle COVID-19.The HIV Vaccine Researcher: Macaya Douoguih, M.D., M.P.H.
Head of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs, Janssen Vaccines
You’ve been working on an investigational HIV vaccine regimen. How has COVID-19 impacted this work?
My group is responsible for devising strategy and oversight of the clinical development of our investigational HIV vaccine regimen. Right now, we have critical studies taking place, which is why it’s crucial that we maintain the momentum of our studies.
We have two efficacy studies well underway—one in southern African countries with about 2,600 at-risk women enrolled, and the other across three continents with 3,800 men who have sex with men and transgender individuals. We are making every attempt to adapt to the current pandemic situation because we are extremely committed to keeping these trials going.
While the novel coronavirus is unpredictable, the team working on the investigational HIV vaccine is continuously coming up with creative solutions to keep our studies going safely. In South Africa, for example, about 400 participants were waiting for their fourth dose of the investigational vaccine when the country had a big uptick in COVID-19 cases. Luckily, we were able to work out how to administer those vaccines safely, with proper PPE and social distancing practices. Our collaborators and partners are incredibly dedicated to the work, so they made it happen.
We’re also doing as many virtual visits with study participants as we can. Unless it is necessary to administer a vaccine or draw blood, we can connect with people remotely.
There may even be a silver lining: If we can do this remote work now, what does this mean for clinical trial efficiencies later, when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic?
Why is the AIDS 2020 conference so crucial when it comes to highlighting the continued fight to end HIV?
It’s important to let people know that we’re not going to let COVID-19 sidetrack us. We’re still working on solutions, and we’re closer than ever.
Every year that we come to the conference we’re closer to having results of our HIV vaccine trials. And I believe it’s essential to share the progress we’ve made and to reassure the world that we’re not losing sight of our goal: to develop a global HIV vaccine that can be offered to women and men around the globe.
Why is continuing the research so crucial—even during a global pandemic—when it comes to progressing the science and the push for a vaccine?
HIV doesn’t care that COVID-19 is circulating. The longer it takes to get studies done, the longer it takes to get the answers we need—and the longer it’ll take to get a vaccine that could help millions of people around the world. Not losing track of our ultimate objective is essential.
We’re learning how to adapt because we are committed to delivering a vaccine.The HIV/AIDS Activist: Laverne Cox
Orange Is the New Black star, transgender activist and spokeswoman for the (BAND-AID®)RED campaign
What inspired you to become an HIV/AIDS activist?
HIV/AIDS has always affected my community and people I know. And throughout my life, there's been so much stigma around it.
As I grew up and began to think about sex, I remember thinking that I was going to get AIDS and die. I associated being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and being sexual with death. Those things were connected in my mind for a long time.
I also thought: If I feel this way, I must not be the only one who feels this way. The way to deal with the shame and trauma, in part, is to talk about it and find ways to heal.
What are you most excited about when it comes to the progress that’s been made with HIV/AIDS research?
As scientists work to find a preventive HIV vaccine, it's hugely important to ensure the inclusion of everyone who is at risk—especially those who have historically been underrepresented in medical research and may encounter barriers accessing quality healthcare.
This is why I’m so glad that leading HIV researchers are including transgender individuals and men who have sex with men in HIV vaccine studies, as these groups experience an increased burden of HIV transmission.
I look forward to seeing the progress to come, and I’ll continue to use my voice to advocate for this kind of inclusive approach in HIV research that reflects the world in which we live. Because only by working together can we help end HIV.
Why is a continued push for advocacy and research so important—even now, when the world is focused on COVID-19?
As we stare into the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certain aspects of this time that feel all too familiar—and I feel compelled to look back through the history of HIV right now, as the world finds itself confronting a new pandemic.
HIV/AIDS was a death sentence back in the 1980s, and it devastated the LGBTQ+ community. If you were diagnosed, you were most likely going to die.
Thankfully, since then, we have made huge advances in science and healthcare and have succeeded in developing transformational medicines for HIV. Today, for many people, HIV is a manageable condition. But too many people still don't fully understand that, so we need to continue this work to help end the misconceptions and help everyone get the information they need.
I think this awareness work is also crucial right now because it’s a chance to let others know they can make a difference. We can work to end HIV/AIDS in our lifetime.The Advocate and Educator: Matshediso (Tshedi) Sibande
Monitoring and Evaluation Lead, DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha Program, a youth-led initiative supported by Johnson & Johnson
How has your work as an HIV/AIDS activist and educator changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?
My role in the DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha Program (“Nothing for Us, Without Us”) is to work face-to-face with adolescent girls and young women in South Africa to help educate them about their sexual and reproductive health, as well as provide leadership and employability skills. It’s all part of an effort to reduce HIV infection rates in this population. If we can help women stand their ground within their relationships, we can help make them less vulnerable to HIV.
Since COVID-19, we’ve had to adapt—which has meant deploying our program virtually. We have launched WhatsApp groups to try and reach adolescent girls and young women and boosted our social media presence. I’ve often thought during this time: Even if we reach just one young girl a day, that’s something.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your outreach work in the last few months?
As COVID-19 cases started to rise, the women we reached out to were mostly focused on how they could prevent getting the novel coronavirus. But as time went by—and as we started implementing new, virtual ways of sharing our information—I could tell what we were offering was so desperately needed. After all, this lockdown has meant many young girls and women are even more vulnerable to acquiring HIV and AIDS, since they don't have safe places, like schools, to go to.
What do you think the future will look like when it comes to HIV/AIDS?
Even if we don’t completely wipe out the virus, we are raising a generation of young girls who will be better able to make informed decisions so they are less vulnerable to getting the virus. I know we're making progress when a woman tells me, "I now understand my worth and the power of my no."
When I was growing up, I learned about HIV/AIDS, but the information presented to me and my peers wasn’t taught in a way that made it easy to apply to real life. What we try to do in our program is the opposite. Not only do we educate our girls about the virus, but we also give them real-life scenarios and steps they can take to help them implement what they’re learning into their own lives. That gives them the best shot at actually preventing the disease.
I believe one silver lining of this time is that we may actually be able to reach more people than before. In the last few months, our program has managed to extend our reach to other districts within South Africa. Even in areas where women struggle with things like internet connectivity and data costs, they are doing everything they can to get into our WhatsApp groups to receive the information we’re providing. That says a lot about the need—and how a little creativity on our part can help us be even more effective in achieving our ultimate goal of reducing HIV infection rates.
You can hear more from Laverne Cox and Macaya Douoguih, M.D., M.P.H., on the Season 2 premiere of “The Road to a Vaccine,” a live video series hosted by journalist and author Lisa Ling about the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine. The July 7 episode, which is streaming live from AIDS 2020, will delve into the similarities between the HIV epidemic and the current pandemic, the importance of HIV advocacy in underrepresented communities, and the impact the novel coronavirus is having on HIV research and activism.