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Trinity alumni are on the forefront of leading the community through the COVID-19 pandemic
by Nicolette Good '07
Trinity alumni in leadership roles across the country are in the trenches of crisis management while COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the country. Creative problem solving, agility, and innovation are critical leadership skills now more than ever, and these Tigers have stepped up to the challenge of developing flexible solutions in challenging and uncertain environments.
Mayor, San Antonio
Saving lives has been the ultimate priority for San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg ’99 during the city’s COVID-19 response. Historic collaboration among city government, county government, and COVID-19 action community work groups has set the nation’s 7th-largest city on a positive path toward that goal. Early on, the mayor tapped trustworthy and credible leaders throughout the city to communicate data about the infection and the threat it poses. Medical and public health leaders provide residents expert guidance, admonitions against hysteria, and stern warnings when social distancing measures are not taken seriously. Ultimately, though, the mayor says his No. 1 tool has been to provide constituents with the hope that we will get through this pandemic.
Chief Financial Officer, Meals on Wheels San Antonio
If homebound, at-risk senior citizens miss out on a hand-delivered hot meal from Meals on Wheels San Antonio, they not only risk going hungry, but also risk social isolation and distressing dependence on other people. Curtis Ruder ’94, P’22 is one executive navigating an unprecedented challenge: How to safely serve clients in the face of a public health crisis, while also protecting those clients, your staff, and your volunteers. Meals on Wheels is delivering special emergency food boxes to clients with the greatest need, while reducing regular deliveries by one day each week. Volunteers have their temperatures checked prior to picking up and delivering meals while practicing social distancing. The nonprofit is serving approximately 5,000 elder community members during San Antonio’s Stay Home, Work Safe Orders.
Director of Supply Chain, H-E-B
H-E-B has been strategizing its outbreak response since 2005, after the World Health Organization began receiving infection reports of H5N1, or the Highly Pathogenic Asian Avian Influenza A Virus. So when the retailer observed COVID-19 impacting global suppliers in January, it was already prepared to innovate. Matt Johnson ’99 directs supply chain strategy for H-E-B, where creative product sourcing, rapid production shifts, and inventory increases have helped keep more than 300 stores replenished. The San Antonio-headquartered company implemented its pandemic emergency plan early February, a month before the federal government declared COVID-19 a national emergency, and it continues to learn from supply chains around the world hit by the disease.
During this pandemic, hungry citizens are looking to apps for aggregated information on restaurants’ updated hours, latest menus and specials, and details on delivery and curbside pickup. Sheltering in place in Wichita, Kansas, Drake Dukes ’16 developed two apps–one for Dallas and the other for Wichita–aimed at making sure those restaurant-goers choose local eateries first. The apps also highlight charitable organizations that are donating to restaurants and service workers. Dukes hopes to eventually broaden his apps to highlight local businesses more generally.
Chief Executive Officer, Guadalupe Healthcare Network
The Trinity community partnered with Deana Henk M’05 to collect spare personal protective equipment (PPE) on campus and deliver the critical supplies to the Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Seguin, Texas. Faculty and staff members gathered equipment on campus commonly needed in emergency rooms and intensive care units, such as coveralls, surgeon's gowns, boot covers, sleeve and arm protectors, head covers, gloves, face masks, and face shields. Henk graduated from Trinity’s health care administration program and is now the executive director at the GHN, overseeing the physician hospital organization that includes approximately 170 physicians associated with the medical center.
Portia Hoeg ’01 is the executive commissioner of the Centennial Conference, which is comprised of 11 liberal arts colleges and universities. As the 2020 spring academic semester ended, the Centennial Conference celebrated graduating student-athletes for their scholarly and athletic achievements and recognized that their seasons were cut short by COVID-19. Hoeg is currently leading the commission through a period of rapid policy changes issued by the NCAA Division III in response to COVID-19. Emergency measures have been aimed at protecting student-athletes’ health, wellness, and eligibility. The future of athletic departments is uncertain, but the league is unified by its shared academic aspirations and its commitment to the total education of students engaged in sports.
Dr. Justin Glass ’91, P’21 directs the Family Medicine Residency program of Idaho, where family medicine physicians train to work in underserved and rural areas. While contracting as a locum tenens—a temporary placement to practice with a health center in need of quality providers—Glass observed a greater need in more densely populated areas of the country. So, he traveled to Trenton, New Jersey, where patients needing treatment for COVID-19 had overwhelmed St. Francis Medical Center, a small facility in an underserved area. The center’s sole hospitalist received relief when Glass stepped up as second hospitalist for the center.