Regional Report: Community in Action

Published: 04/20/2020
Updated: 07/09/2020

A GPEC Virtual Series

A crisis has an innate way of bringing communities together. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) hosted the third installment of our virtual series ‘Regional Report,’ where we explore industries in Greater Phoenix that have been impacted by COVID-19. This webinar focused on how local organizations have been activated to respond to the changing needs of the community and how collaborations have formed to meet those needs.

The collaborative work of Greater Phoenix’s nonprofits and corporations through the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be understated. The region is composed of more than 15,000 NPOs, the eighth largest driver of the region’s economy, and Greater Phoenix is home to some of the most innovative technology companies in the world, like Intel, who are all doing exceptional work to help our community as we face COVID-19 head on.

“I’d put Phoenix up against any major city in the country in terms of what we’ve done,” said panelist Steve Seleznow, president & CEO at Arizona Community Foundation.

Seleznow was joined by an engaging panel of local leaders composed of Ahron Cohen, former president & CEO of the Arizona Coyotes; Robin Reed, president & CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona; and Danny Seiden, Arizona government affairs director at Intel Corporation.

At the core of the discussion was each leader’s organizational focus on providing solutions to the business, healthcare and societal challenges created by the pandemic. Each organization has spearheaded different initiatives, but all are resoundingly concentrated on addressing the needs of our neighbors whether that’s in the form of access to resources and information, capital, technology, personal protection equipment, and even entertainment as sports are woven into the fabric our country and have come to a halt in order to help contain the spread of the virus.

“The Greater Phoenix area in particular was amazing in its response time to come together. It’s not a cliché to say, ‘[Greater] Phoenix, Greater Together.’ We are really doing that,” said Robin Reed, president & CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona. “Everyone has the same intention. It’s how can I help? What can we do? We were very quick to work together as a community.”

Community in Action

Arizona Community Foundation – Steve Seleznow, president & CEO

  • “The business and foundation community has stood up, and stood up immediately, with major companies making significant contributions to a number of funds.”
    • Arizona Community Foundation’s Fund, ‘Arizona COVID-19 Community Response’ has raised $11 million
    • Governor’s Fund, ‘Arizona Together,’ has raised $6.5 million
    • Valley of the Sun United way has raised more than $2 million
    • Funds designed to support arts & culture, and artists around the state
    • Adding ‘Arizona Gives Day’ contributions and the sum of numerous other funds that have been established, $35 million has been raised to support the nonprofit sector
  • “The generosity that I’ve seen from the business community is amazing. I look at what’s happening in other cities through other community foundations across the country, and we’re doing equal, and in some cases, better than a lot of cities in terms of how our companies have stepped up, and how our foundations have stepped up.”

Arizona Coyotes – Ahron Cohen, president & CEO

  • “Anytime you’re going through a situation like this where a nation or world is facing adversity, you’re looking for things that bring people together and unite us as one. Sports, just in its tribalism component, has an ability to do that like few other things can.”
  • “One of the core pillars of our organization is to positively impact this Arizona community and now is an opportunity to really step up and lead in that regard.”
  • “We did some things with Saint Mary’s Food Bank recently where myself and our general manager were supporting the governor there, and through our creative content were able to distribute that our to our fans and help raise awareness and bring more money for a critical need.”
  • “It’s forcing us to be very creative and come up with new strategies to engage without fans. One thing we’re trying to do a lot of is showcase our players and personalities behind the scenes. They’re just like the rest of us.”

Black Chamber of Arizona – Robin Reed, president & CEO

  • “We were very active, and we were gathering information, and truly in the blink of an eye that shifted to how do we save businesses and how do we keep everybody from being so severely economically impacted by this that we can’t survive it. Once we felt like we got a foothold on that, it shifted over to the PPP funding that became the predominant issue in the small business community. Trying to find the most reliable source, most accurate and comprehensive information to share with the community.”
  • “A lot of what we’ve done is gone from fundraising, event-prep mode to digging in deep and getting very, very granular not only with our large employers and our bankers, but our small business owners. Trying to answer those questions that are out there. Trying to make sure that information is timely and accurate, and at the same time staying aware that we have to remain nimble because tomorrow may bring something different.”
  • “We’re strong believers that acceptance of, or ambivalence toward hate behavior is an endorsement of that behavior toward all groups. It was very easy for our organization to stand in support of our Asian community as they were becoming the victimized segment of our local community. Philosophically when this is over, let’s remember to respect each other’s space. Each person’s space is their beliefs, their looks, their culture. If we continue to respect that, I think we can come out on the other side as a better society.”

Intel Corporation – Danny Seiden, Arizona government affairs director

  • “When it comes Intel, I think everyone sees our logo and they think about us as a tech company, and for good reason. Our technology is virtually everywhere you go and touches everything in everyone’s daily lives. It’s in your cars, it’s in your phones, it’s in your PCs, it’s in the hospitals. We are woven into the digital and critical infrastructure of people’s lives, that’s why we’re labeled as an essential service.”
  • “This will be our fortieth year as a manufacturer here in Arizona and we employ more than 12,000 people. We’re actually a very large part of this community. We’re your neighbors or fellow parents, we have kids two-doors down right now attempting and potentially failing at distance learning. We’re in this with you and we’re doing our best to figure this out along with you as well. “
  • Intel has made a pledge to open up its IP. Intel’s technology is enabling heroes by leveraging Intel’s unique strengths & experiences. One example of how they have leveraged technology is by partnering with Medtronic to enable doctors to remotely control ventilators from a virtual distance, which lessens their chances of exposure.
  • Intel has donated 1 million PPE items across the country
  • Intel donated $1 million to organizations to boost nonprofits, which is part of a larger $10 million effort
  • Intel employees are utilizing their spare time to make their own PPE and donating those items to doctors, nurses
  • Intel has pledged $50 million towards its Pandemic Response Technology Initiative with $40 million growing towards response and readiness, and online learning initiatives, and $10 million towards its innovation fund.

The work of these leaders and their respective organizations define our region’s spirit rooted in strength, collaboration and resilience. Even in times of uncertainty, Greater Phoenix becomes Greater Together.


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07/09/2020: Ahron Cohen is no longer president/CEO of the Arizona Coyotes and the blog has been updated to reflect that.