Excellence in service awards
Blue Cross is proud of the contributions of our employees and community partners and each year takes time to celebrate our collective impact through our Excellence in Service Awards. We’re honored to recognize these employees who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service both internally and externally in 2021 and embody our core values of inclusion, compassion, sustainability and leadership.
Excellence in Service Award
The Humanitarian Hero
In Donnie’s own words, he has the personality of a helper and protector. Across the company, Donnie is well known by many for his role to keep us safe day-to-day. As president of our Veterans Employee Resource Group, Donnie’s care for his fellow veterans and colleagues is clear. But it’s the commitment to communities beyond his own that is so powerful. He finds impactful ways to use his skills to help others seen through his longstanding support of the Boston Wounded Veterans Run and his pro bono security assessments of Father Bill’s & mainspring’s properties. Last year, Donnie not only leveraged his military and operational expertise to assist with the evacuation of Afghan refugees from Kabul, but he also organized a campaign to collect donated items from his colleagues to ensure that these families had basic essentials upon their arrival in the United States. Recently, he became a gray shirt with Team Rubicon – volunteering to be deployed as part of a disaster response team when a climate or humanitarian crisis occurs. Donnie explains his motivation in the humblest way: “I have helped people, and I have needed help…During my last few seconds alive I want to be able to tell myself that my life was impactful.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT DONNIE'S IMPACT
Donnie Kyne (00:04):
Growing up. I always knew that I was going to join the military. My father was in the Army. My stepfather was in the Army. My grandmother, she had a wall that had pictures of everyone who'd been in the military. Growing up, as a little kid, it was the goal of the people in our family, to get on that wall. The military taught me how to be part of a team, how to put others over oneself. At Blue Cross, I'm the safety and security operations manager. So I'm responsible for all the physical security of our different campuses and offices.
Jim Linehan (00:32):
Donnie's role of Blue Cross is all about keeping people safe. He's really a protector of all of us. He understands this industry better than anyone I've ever seen. And then there's just his personality. He is an overachiever in a lot of ways. He's always trying to help people. And I think you see that in some of the work that he does outside of his role too.
Darian Kavu (00:51):
Throughout my internship experience, Donnie supported me by connecting with me frequently. He also went out of his way to connect me with different people in the IT field who have very experiences and could offer me advice on improving my career.
Jim Linehan (01:05):
He takes the expertise that he has, and he really spreads it around to the people who need it. And to me, is, in a nutshell, who Donnie is, always trying to find that way to help somebody who needs help.
Donnie Kyne (01:14):
As the president of the Veteran's ERG, working with the team, it's not just me, but working with the whole ERG, come up with different ways that we can help inside Blue Cross. And help outside of Blue Cross.
Don Cummings (01:25):
His desire is to help veterans in whatever way he possibly can. He finds time to connect the Veteran's ERG group with various organizations so that we can either participate or volunteer to support veterans in need.
Jim Linehan (01:39):
He really brings that same passion and that same desire to serve that he has here, that people get the witness here. Brings that when he goes out in the community.
Donnie Kyne (01:48):
Working at Blue Cross allows me a lot of opportunity to connect with organizations that I'm passionate about their causes as well. So I can put those skills to use to help others. Over this past year, I supported the Boston Wounded Veteran Run, which is a motorcycle run that raises funds for locally disabled veterans. I've supported Father Bill's MainSpring, working with them on security assessments, any other security needs they have. And then I spearheaded with the Veteran's ERG and Blue Cross's corporate citizenship, the Afghanistan refugee donation drive. And then through that drive, I became aware of Team Rubicon, and I've since joined Team Rubicon.
Korey Schroeder (02:26):
These Afghan families had nothing but the clothes on their back. These drives that Donnie did and all the donations that people donated and contributed to really work on getting the essential needs and that all these Afghan families needed before they transitioned off base into these communities. Whenever that disaster strikes, Donnie's role as a gray shirt is going to help us achieve our mission as a whole to get these communities and these individuals back into their home sooner and back up on their feet.
Donnie Kyne (02:58):
What motivates me to serve is pretty simple. I have children. I want them to see what the right thing to do is. I want to make things better for them.
Jim Linehan (03:07):
It's never about him. It's really all about I'm here. I know how to help people. How can I be there to help the people who really need it most? That's, to me, why Donnie is the epitome of this award.
Don Cummings (03:17):
On behalf of the Veteran's ERG, Donnie, congratulations. I don't know anyone more deserving of this award, so congratulations.
Darian Kavu (03:26):
Congratulations, Donnie. Thanks for being a great mentor.
Korey Schroeder (03:30):
Congratulations, Donnie. Thank you for your amazing hard work and the tremendous impact you've had. Welcome to the tribe.
Jim Linehan (03:37):
Donnie, congratulations on this award. Thank you for all you do for all of us.
Volunteer of the Year
The Community Connector
Marisa is a champion for public health. She is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within Blue Cross and addressing health disparities in communities across the state. She has volunteered to provide training and support to our company’s Spanish member support team, volunteered as a legal interpreter for immigrant families facing deportation through our partnership with Kids in Need of Defense, and delivered a division-wide coffee chat on how representation matters. Marisa is also a leader of Blue Cross’s AzuLatinx Employee Resource Group and a longstanding member of our BlueCrew Leadership Council, where she served as a project lead for our Service Day project and holiday food drive with SEWA.
Marisa serves on Playworks New England’s leadership council and the Lawrence Family Health Center’s events committee. In both roles, she has used her creativity, leadership, and strong network to provide critical fundraising support that has helped the organizations endure through pandemic-related challenges. Furthermore, Marisa is completing her master’s degree in public health at Regis College. In 2021, she worked with a team of researchers on a study looking at the impact of COVID-19 on Massachusetts seniors that is being submitted as an abstract to the American Public Health Association.
The Gardener for Good
Renee uses her leadership and passion for gardening to improve her community. She is a founding member of our Company Garden Program, a leader of our [email protected] Leadership Council, and a veteran member of our BlueCrew Leadership Council. After seeing her local Greenwood Street Community Garden in severe neglect, Renee took it upon herself to bring it back to life. She signed up for our gardening classes with The Trustees and then recruited gardeners from her neighborhood to help. Her knowledge, care and dedication to the project were contagious. Every day from April through November of 2021, Renee was in the garden cleaning up common spaces, helping maintain plots and harvesting and distributing produce grown on-site. For her efforts revitalizing the community garden, Renee was selected as the 2021 Volunteer of the Year by the Trustees, an organization that engages thousands of volunteers each year across Massachusetts.
Health Justice Award
The Innovator for Equity
Alex is passionate about breaking down barriers to help marginalized communities access quality care, dignified health experiences, and opportunities to achieve better health outcomes. As a member of our Innovation team, Alex played a crucial role in the development of the Magnolia Model – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ anti-racism framework -- and has leveraged the design-thinking methodology to resolve member pain points related to IVF and fertility and diabetes management. Since 2019, Alex has been a leader of MIT Hacking Medicine and MIT Hacking Racism where he helped plan global hackathons related to democratizing healthcare through collaboration and innovation. Most recently, Alex was selected to participate in GenUnity’s three-month health equity leadership program where he is currently engaging in community discussions to make connections and understand how Blue Cross can further promote health equity. Through his kindness, willingness to challenge the status quo, and desire for inclusion, Alex is making an impact and creating better experiences for our members and beyond.
Health Justice Award
The Caring Communicators
Member Service 3C Bilingual Team
The company’s bilingual member service team was initiated in March 2021 to help advance our health equity work. In a short period of time, they became a go-to resource for departments across the company. In addition to providing Spanish language and translation support, the team helps create culturally sensitive education materials to provide Latinx community members with a better understanding of various health-related topics such as member benefits, COVID-19 vaccine details, and the U.S. health care system. Many team members also work within their Latinx communities to lead and support nonprofits addressing inequalities. Through their proactive delivery of education and support, the member service 3C team is helping Blue Cross deliver an unparalleled customer experience to our Latinx members and helping us overcome health disparities across Massachusetts.
Advocate & Ally Award
The Mental Health & Wellness Helpers
Lack of sewing experience did not stop Cathy from addressing a need she identified in her community. At the start of the pandemic, she purchased a sewing machine and watched a YouTube video to teach herself how to sew, producing close to 1,000 masks to donate to first responders and to sell as fundraisers to benefit causes close to her heart such as autism and breast cancer. Seeking a way to honor the memory of her sister, Cathy connected with Annie’s Kindness Blankets following a Service Day project and continued to purchase materials and make blankets to donate to women's sober houses on the South Shore at Christmas time.
Danick leverages her technology and media skills to support the causes she is passionate about and to uplift her Haitian immigrant community. In 2021, she joined the board of Jeunesse Contre La Drogue (Youth Against Drugs), a Brockton-based organization focused on deterring young people from drug use and supporting young people’s reentry to society after being released from prison. In this role, she has helped expand their online presence, creating a Facebook page and YouTube channel and participating in their live weekly Haitian radio show. Danick also promotes computer literacy within the Haitian community by facilitating IT workshops with Mass Community Health Service in Action. Throughout the pandemic, she applied her technology skills to help her church transition to online services so the congregation could continue to worship safely from home. For Danick, who grew up in a family where it was very important to help those who are in need, she says, “Serving others and giving back to my community gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
Cathy is committed to giving back to the communities that once supported her. In her words, “Someone was there for me at my lowest point. I couldn't imagine not being there for someone else. Giving should be a natural thing.” As a lifelong client of Dimock Health Center, Cathy now serves on its Health Services Board – a group of leaders including Dimock patients—where she oversees and supports the health center’s programs and services. She serves as a Board of Trustees at her alma matter Bunker Hill Community College and mentors other adults pursuing additional education with Other Facets of Life. Within the Blue Cross community, Cathy is also active on the Women’s Inclusion Network’s leadership team.
Advocate & Ally Award
The Company Culture Champions
Julia consistently goes above and beyond to support her colleagues. During the height of the pandemic, she put together events to improve her team’s mental health, guiding meditation exercises and sharing best practices for working from home. As a member of our BlueCrew Leadership Council she spearheaded a Service Day event with a new community partner, Our Neighbor’s Table. She also serves on the Women’s Inclusion Network leadership team, helping engage 700 women by writing and distributing monthly newsletters and designing and facilitating event programming.
Renee’s colleagues describe her as a “beacon of light” and “a renaissance women with 21st century technical skills.” As a nurse, she is trained to help others. During our 2021 Service Day, she worked all day at Ruth House, Ascentria Care Alliance’s teen parenting program in Brockton. On her way home, she saw a woman in distress. Renee pulled over, jumped out of her car and saved her life. Moved by the experience, Renee has since volunteered weekly at the Ruth House using her skills as a certified Barre instructor to facilitate weekly wellness events such as yoga and meditation. She also donates her time to give back to Blue Cross. As secretary of the Asian Blue Community Employee Resource Group, Renee helps make the programs fun and engaging. She taught Bollywood dance at an event and created engaging online presentations to promote connections among our colleagues.
Stephanie is a strong advocate and role model for women at Blue Cross. During her two-year tenure as President of the Women’s Inclusion Network Employee Resource Group, she helped establish a new strategy and piloted programs such as WIN Circles, a group mentoring program that created a safe environment for 50 participating members to share their experiences and learn from one another. She also connected the WIN Employee Resource Group with women’s related nonprofits and created volunteer opportunities to support Pine Street Inn’s women’s shelter. Outside of Blue Cross, Stephanie lends her strategic planning expertise to support the short- and long-term planning of her Redemption Hill Church in Medford.
Excellence in service Nominees
In 2021, employees across the company stepped up to serve others and give back to our community during a time of continued need. This commitment was clear in the 40 noteworthy nominations submitted. From employees who started their own nonprofits to others who spearheaded donation drives and championed health equity for our members, our nominees embody our core values of inclusion, compassion, sustainability, and leadership.