A Great Lady and a Great Cause: AnneMarie Staley and the DRI Foundation
AnneMarieStaley,CBCP, MBCI, is the Managing Director for Global Business Continuity Management at NYSE Euronext, Inc., which includes the New York Stock Exchange and other global trading platforms and services worldwide. She is also a Board Director of DRI International and Chair of the DRI Foundation. We spoke with her about working with the foundation and its ongoing initiatives.
Thrive: How did the Foundation come about?
AnneMarie Staley: DRI International had been looking for ways to add more value for their Certified Professionals. Since DRI International has had a long history of educating and certifying business continuity and disaster recovery professionals worldwide, and many have gone on to prominent positions in their communities and large companies, it seemed to be a perfect fit to create the Foundation to allow certified profes- sionals to be able to give back to their communities through volunteer relief and advocacy efforts. The Foundation was launched in 2011 as a separate entity of DRI International with an express desire to empower the more than 11,000 certified professionals.
Thrive: Why is there a need?
AnneMarie Staley: For many, rebuilding after a disaster can be as significant as the immediate disaster itself, and finding immediate relief after the event can be even more frustrating still. One of the DRI Foundation’s goals is to address that concern: to help organiza- tions and communities impacted by disaster engage with relief organizations worldwide efficiently and effectively in order to begin the recovery process as soon as possible. The bureaucracy involved in getting the right resources to the people who need it immediately is not as forthcoming or quick as one would hope. The community itself is the one who knows what resources are needed immediately—and that’s not just water and food, but blankets, clothing, and other items that we take for granted that should be available.
Thrive: But how does the Foundation differ from other relief-aid organizations?
AnneMarie Staley: Of course we are a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, but we differ from other relief-aid organizations in that we also take a proactive tack. Better prepared commu- nities, just like better prepared businesses, will fare better responding to and recovering from an event. This includes vigorously promoting professional and personal preparedness within the communities. It is comforting for a community or neighborhood that their workplaces and shops be able to open in the midst of rebuilding, so as to return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible. DRI International is invaluable in partnering with us to deliver business resiliency education to communities everywhere. We also seek to partner with other relief organizations to collaborate and share information to form a better response. This model enables us to fulfill the other part of our mission, which is to provide volunteer opportunities for certified professionals, as well as for other business continuity, disaster recovery, and emergency management professionals everywhere.
Thrive: The organization is only a few years old. What have you done so far?
AnneMarie Staley: In 2012, we held our first Volunteer Day at the start of the DRI2012 conference in New Orleans, and that was overwhelmingly successful. We were buoyed by the number of people from the conference who signed up to participate. Out of the large contingent of volunteers, some worked with Habitat for Humanity and swung hammers and pounded nails to help finish a house for a local family. Others worked at the food bank Second Harvest, where they sorted and categorized foodstuffs that were then boxed and delivered to families through all the parishes. Later that year, we partnered with Delta Airlines and the Suffolk County Legislative Office to distribute blankets to those communities on Long Island, New York severely impacted by Super Storm Sandy.
At DRI2013 in Philadelphia, PA, we held another Volunteer Day event, where we again worked with Habitat for Humanity in their “Habitat ReStore” re-sale outlet, accepting and moving furniture and fixtures which included storing and sorting of those items. We also helped to spruce up the surrounding area with fence painting. Additionally, we had a contingent of volunteers working with Philabundance, another food bank resource where we sorted food and cans, checking for expiration dates and boxing up fresh food and pantry items for distribution. (see DRIF in Action, page 30).
We are continually expanding our network and profile by partnering with other organiza- tions and agencies, building our database of resources and spreading the word. High on our list of priorities is developing a specialized one-day business continuity course geared to small- to medium-sized businesses to build up their resiliency. And let’s not forget, continual fundraising!
Thrive: What’s Volunteer Day about?
AnneMarie Staley: Volunteer Day is the brainchild of Clyde Berger, our Foundation VP and Director of Volunteerism. Clyde is incredibly committed to volunteer work and has devoted innumerable hours of his time to work with organizations, agencies and grassroots endeavors for the good and benefit of others. What started out as a simple, elegant opportunity for DRI conference participants to have the opportunity to participate in the Foundation’s mission has now become an annual staple of the DRI Conference. And it’s not just for conference participants – we encourage attendees to invite and include spouses, significant others and children. The feedback has all been positive and uplifting.
Thrive: Has Volunteer Day had any significant impact?
AnneMarie Staley: Time and time again, we hear such positive feedback from our certified professional community that they really enjoy participating in Volunteer Day and look forward to that event, which kicks off the DRI Conference. We’ve heard stories from entire families who set aside this time to participate in this endeavor together. We have even heard from some people who, while they can’t attend the conference, do want to come and partici- pate on Volunteer Day! Now, while we do reward their time and effort with CEAPs, (continuing education credits that count towards their 2-year re-certification), I believe their commitment to this effort goes beyond that reward—they would still come out to support us even if we did not grant CEAPs. I am always gladly surprised and inspired by the generosity of spirit and time and energy that our Certified Professionals exhibit and their apparent hunger for oppor- tunities such as this.
Thrive: Why are you passionate about this cause?
AnneMarie Staley: Personally, I have always wanted to contribute to my community and help people in need. I consider myself a giver. Whether contributing on the ground or in the planning and preparedness stages, I am excited to make a contribution, no matter how small. I am just so glad that an organization like the DRI Foundation exists to contribute to the education of preparedness and the distribution of desperately needed resources to where they can have the most impact. Just to be on the ground floor of this organization and at the beginning of this initiative is incredibly exciting and inspiring.
Thrive: You manage the business continuity program at the NYSE Euronext, which is quite significant! How do you find time for volunteering, and how does your volunteer work and involvement with the Foundation help you in your professional life?
AnneMarie Staley: Wow, that’s a good one, and I’m still working on it! Time management is a hard one for me and I continually strive to find ways to manage my time and resources. I have so many projects both at work and with the Foundation, so my project management skills help me as I approach them in much the same way. I also have fantastic people around me who are just as invested in a great work product and from whom I can draw inspiration. I learn skills and get great advice on both sides of the fence that I can use on either side. I’ve also learned to slow down and listen more. Because I consider myself a giver, I’m still working on saying no more. That said, a deadline is still my best time management solution to date.
Thrive: How would you measure the success of the Foundation?
AnneMarie Staley: By providing the one-day course I mentioned earlier on a global scale, and providing a viable network of volunteer opportunities for our 11,000 certified professionals worldwide. If we can equip communities and individuals to become more resilient and accountable for professional and personal preparedness, that would be a great success.
Thrive: What do you think are some of the greatest challenges delivering aid to victims impacted by disaster?
AnneMarie Staley: It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have known selfless people who get up from what they’re doing to rush to the aid of a site, only to be turned away because there are too many spontaneous volunteers there already. If you want to be of real help, align yourself with an organization that deploys volunteers so that you can be used in a more needed and meaningful way. The other challenge comes when people get together to raise resources – water, for example. They load up the trucks and get out to the site only to find that all of those other spontaneous volunteers also had the same idea, and now the most abundant resource they have is water.
What this comes down to is communication. Effective volunteers join with an organization so that they can be directed to those areas that most need aid and deliver the resources most needed on the ground. I won’t even get into the bureaucracies of some other organizations. That is why the DRI Foundation is nimble enough to partner with communities and utilize the Certified Professionals in those communities to get us to the organizations and leaders that need the resources and help. I’m talking about local churches, shelters and other non-profit organizations already working in the community long before the disaster has occurred.
Thrive: Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like others to know about the Foundation?
AnneMarie Staley: As with all non-profit organizations, in order to drive action, an appropriate level of funding is required. We solicit public and private institutions, and individual donors, to contribute tax-deductible donations. This funding supports education and awareness, research and program development related to volunteerism efforts, and redistribution requirements related to programs in the form of services, goods or financial aid (see sidebar Give a Little Bit page 28).