Monday, April 29, 2013

EAFocus Coordinates Press Conference Featuring Two Entrepreneurial Nuns, Philanthropic CEOs and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

On the morning of Friday, April 19th Barb Fornasiero and I arrived at St. Luke’s N.E.W. (North End Women’s) Life Center, Inc. – an organization started in the basement of a church in an old north-end neighborhood in Flint as a faith-based program that incorporates education and workplace training to help women become self-sufficient providers for their families. As we walked into the building we were welcomed by a friendly young lady at the front desk. We continued down a long hallway lined with classrooms. The end of the hallway opened to a larger room with a stage, seating, tables and a kitchen in the back.

The kitchen was filled with women of all ages preparing food and making sure the facility looked spic and span for the guests who would be visiting shortly. We were then greeted by Sister Carol Weber and Sister Judy Blake, co-founders of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center.
But why were we in this church in Flint? Why were these women veering from their daily work routine to host guests? Who were the VIPS they were expecting?  (Hint: not us!)

Simply put, we were gathering for a press conference organized by EAFocus. But this wasn’t any old press conference (is there such a thing??) and it’s not every day you walk into a church and see a “secret service”  agent, so these weren’t just any average Joe’s attending the press conference – Governor Rick Snyder was on the agenda! As Barb and I helped finalize the setup of the room and ensure things were in order for our client Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy (CEO Phil Hagerman is a member of the business advisory council for St. Luke N.E.W. Life Enterprises), we watched the security team from the Governor’s office verify the building was secure.
The room quickly filled with local elected officials, the hard working employees of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises, media, Flint area leaders, the business advisory council and other Flint community supporters.

We were then introduced to Governor Rick Snyder’s communications team (very nice folks!) and met in one of the N.E.W. Life Center classrooms with all the press conference speakers: Phil Shaltz, managing partner of Uptown Developments and president of Shaltz Automation, Phil Hagerman, CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Srs. Weber and Blake, Michael Finney, CEO and president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Governor Rick Snyder. As the Governor entered the room, he shook each of our hands and introduced himself.
We all chatted for a few minutes about what a great cause we were gathering for (and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! As a young PR professional, it’s not every day you are coordinating a press conference for such influential people). Then it was show time!

We were escorted down the long hallway and took our seats as the press conference began. As I scanned the room, all the seats were filled (75+), media and press filled the back of the room with their cameras and others stood around to hear the investments the sisters, business advisory council, the MEDC and the state were making in Flint. Each speaker gave their remarks, which were inspiring and gave confidence that the business developed by the sisters is a replicable business model that can benefit other cities in addition to Flint. The press conference was filled with applause, standing ovations, laughs and tears. Mike Finney joked with the Governor that state should alter the dress code to allow for workers to wear the scrubs made by N.E.W. Life Enterprises (the room roared with laughter and applause).
What an exciting morning for me! Alas, it was over in the blink of an eye. We saw our weeks of preparation pay off and well deserving individuals receive recognition for their efforts and hard work in bettering their community.

To read more about the details of the press conference and gain a better understanding of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises and the business advisory council, please click here.

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