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Inside Kellogg spoke with Anne Frazier (E&W 2021), VP of Community Impact for the E&W KSA, and Andrew Alcott (E&W 2021), President of the E&W Healthcare Club, on their partnership to launch a mask drive to support communities in need during COVID-19. Here’s their story.

Tell us a little about your professional backgrounds leading up to Kellogg and what drove you to be part of the KSA and Healthcare Club.

ANNE: I have worked in the education non-profit sector for most of my career, starting as a corps member for Teach for America and presently working at OneGoal Chicago. While I am exploring my opportunities after Kellogg, I also know that organizations and communities at large are better and stronger when working to enhance opportunities for all members. I am also proud to serve on KSA and to bring concerns of the student body to our admin.

ANDREW: I have worked in healthcare for my entire career. I began in revenue cycle consulting for the Veteran’s Health Administration at Huron Consulting Group and now work as a program manager for the Chief Medical Officer of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. I was excited to join the Healthcare Club when I got to Kellogg because of its mission to tie the often siloed, disparate parts of the healthcare industry together through its programming and get the perspectives outside of my “bubble” in the provider world. 

What led to the partnership between the KSA and Healthcare Club?

ANNE: During my first several months as VP of Community Impact, I connected with many of the club leaders to learn how they currently volunteer and how my committee might be able to support those efforts. Andrew and I were able to find many different points of overlap to work together, including the mask drive.

ANDREW: As Anne mentioned, she contacted me about pursuing a service opportunity in conjunction with my club, as we were a logical partner during the COVID crisis. What also helped is that coming into the Healthcare Club, I wanted to make sure that we offered service events (being the healthcare club it seemed appropriate). I really enjoyed Anne’s enthusiasm for service programming and wanted to partner with her on this event, as well as others as the academic year progresses. 

Tell us about the initiative to make masks for communities in need.

ANNE: The first time that a mask drive was brought to my attention was during a Community Impact member meeting. Christian Nikolopoulos, a member of the Spring 2020 cohort, brought the idea up during our brainstorming time. When Andrew also brought up the idea, I knew it was kismet. We soon scheduled time for the three of us to brainstorm and to plan the session.

During the early phases of the pandemic, there were many different social activities online, including happy hours and whatnot. We hoped to capture some of that energy towards our mission to support the larger Chicago community. Initially, we only provided information on how to make your own mask during the session. Closer to the date, another member of Community Impact, Norman Leonhardt, suggested including direct purchase options as well. This was critical for the success of our drive as a majority of the donated masks were purchased rather than made.

ANDREW: We wanted to pursue a community organization that was in desperate need of masks at their food pantries and shelters, especially at the time when masks were a scarce commodity. We both heavily advertised our event over Kellogg social media — I think a benefit we had was highlighting Dean Greg Hanifee as a guest speaker. As Anne said, a big win was our decision to pivot to letting people donate masks. Since I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, I was glad to donate surgical masks in lieu of someone being the recipient of my shoddy mask workmanship! 

Tell us about your partnership and outreach with the Kellogg community. What were your goals?

ANNE: During our planning, we brainstormed several different organization types that needed masks during the pandemic. We quickly realized that there were many different groups in need during this time, so we focused on organizations that were not usually supported by larger Kellogg efforts. I was aware of the work of Franciscan Outreach and was impressed by how they were able to support the homeless population in Chicago. I contacted their Pilsen office to schedule our donation, which they were very excited to take.

ANDREW: Anne identified the community partner that was in dire need of materials — these smaller nonprofits heavily rely on financial support and materials that are heavily constrained in these tough times. I thought we stayed true to our Kellogg mission of being impactful by seeking out an organization that, to Anne’s point, we had not worked with previously as a Kellogg community and is not as high profile as some other Chicago-area non-profits. 

Any other Kellogg resources or partnerships you leveraged to execute this initiative?

ANNE: One of our biggest wins was having Dean Hanifee join our call both to make a beautiful mask and to connect directly with students. He was able to answer some questions during an uncertain time — something he was by no means obligated to do. It was wonderful.

ANDREW: Echoing Anne – having Dean Hanifee being able to be our “guest star” at the event was a huge win. It was great to hear his perspective on the goings-on of COVID and how they impacted life for us and at the university as a whole.

What was the outcome of the mask drive?

ANNE: We recently wrapped up the drive as masks were no longer coming my way. Andrew and I were able to drop them off directly to Fransiscan Outreach. In all, we collected a little over 100 masks. We are very thankful to all of those who participated.

ANDREW: Anne and I were able to drop off 100+ masks at Franciscan Outreach. Probably my favorite moment of our little jaunt down to Pilsen was the overwhelming gratitude we got from the woman working in Franciscan’s administrative office. I could tell she really appreciated our efforts. 

How will this experience inform your partnerships and projects in the future? How you individually lead?

ANNE: There are a couple of take-aways from this project. First, I think that whenever you are asking people to give, you need to listen to what is a reasonable ask for both those who are giving and those who are receiving. I do not think that we would have recieved nearly as many masks if we had only presented one donation method to the student body. We also received many masks well after the initial mask-making event. This taught me to be flexible in how we think about drives in general — to see their natural flow and to adjust accordingly.

I was energized by our partnership together. Andrew and Christian are driven individuals who really made this opportunity into a reality. I could see different parts of our vision come together in the final event and through the drive. In many ways, it reflected the Kellogg core value of community.

As an individual leader, I continue to reflect on how Community Impact serves two different bodies: Kellogg & its students and Chicagoland. One of my personal struggles has been marrying the needs of Kellogg students to what Chicago actually needs. In this instance, leadership was learning to listen and to adjust in the moment.

ANDREW: To Anne’s point, COVID-19 has made us confront logistical hurdles we hadn’t thought of before. For example, we couldn’t leave  a box at Wieboldt Hall for people to drop off mask donations and use it as a central hub. I commend Anne and her branch of the KSA’s creative thinking around both the mask making and the mask donations (a boon for people like me without a crafty bone in their body)! 

I echo Anne’s sentiment in that I was energized by the partnership with her and Christian. Through these efforts, we brought to life the Kellogg tenet of community impact. That energy, for me, continues to thrive, and I want to make sure that service events like this — whether it’s mask donations, physically volunteering at food pantries, or hosting a local food drive — become part and parcel of what the Healthcare Club does. I look forward to future partnerships with Anne and KSA Community Impact on these sorts of endeavors as the academic year marches on and as we will likely continue to face these new challenges as a Kellogg and greater Chicago community.