Members of KPMG Future Leaders Program Step Up in Response to COVID-19
The KPMG Future Leaders Program, funded by net proceeds from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, awards top female high school seniors across the country the opportunity to enhance their personal growth through college scholarships, a leadership development retreat, a mentoring relationship with a woman business leader, and an introduction to golf.
Having recently celebrated its first graduating class, the program currently consists of 84 young women, many of whom are making a profound impact in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A member of the 2017 KPMG Future Leaders Program’s Class, Binder graduated from Vassar College in three years, earning degrees in Biology and Philosophy, with the dream to go to medical school. In her sophomore year, Binder enrolled in an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course, and developed a passion for the field after 16 hours of on-the-job shadowing in an ambulance. When the COVID-19 response hit in March, Binder’s part-time role at the ambulance company dramatically changed. Located just an hour north of what was the COVID-19 epicenter in New York City at the time, Binder started putting in 40+ hour work weeks, all while maintaining her duties as a full-time student, and still continues to work as an EMT while studying to become a doctor.
“My coworkers are my inspiration,” Binder said of her fellow EMTs. “I watch them put their lives at risk without batting an eyelash. Our job has always demanded that we improvise under the most disruptive condition, be it equipment failures or performing chest compressions in the mud on the side of the road. If anyone was prepared to face a global pandemic with a sober sense of calm, it was first responders.”
Morgan Mackenzie Joseph
A few years ago while still in high school, Joseph, currently a sophomore at Duke University and a member of the KPMG Future Leaders Program’s Class of 2019, established her own non-profit organization, The Empowerment Hub. The Empowerment Hub was designed to address the gap in opportunities and resources for children in her native Harlem, NY community. Through trips to local museums, free coding classes and financial literacy workshops, the program created impactful experiences for its students.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joseph realized she had an opportunity to make a difference and take The Empowerment Hub in a slightly different direction. The program began offering a free online tutoring program for K-12 students, while providing educational support and access to academic resources. The program currently has more than 40 tutors, including a few fellow members of the KPMG Future Leaders Program Class of 2019, and 60 students participating daily. The numbers continue to grow on a weekly basis, with Morgan receiving countless messages of gratitude from parents whose children are receiving much-needed support.
“I get paragraphs every single day from our families saying ‘thank you so much,’ ‘this is great’ and ‘we are so appreciative,’ and it means the world to me,” Joseph said. “It’s tiring doing this every day, but it’s worth it. Even if it’s just one person saying this is helping them out means the world to me and my team.”
With personal protective equipment (PPE) much needed in the healthcare community, Popovich, a member of the KPMG Future Leaders Program’s Class of 2019 and sophomore at Cornell University, founded Makers for COVID-19. Makers is a coalition of 3-D printer owners that have banded together to produce PPE for healthcare professionals all over the world. Through the creation of face shields, ear savers, the sourcing of N-95 masks and hospital gowns, Popovich and her teammates are making a huge difference at the most critical time. As a team, they can provide up to 22,000 units of PPE a week to medical facilities in need.
With the busy workload of leading the team and printing face shields, Popovich hasn’t had much time to reflect on how far both she and Makers for COVID-19 has come in just a few short months, but admits how appreciative she is to be making a difference by following her passion.
“I always dreamed of being able to make this kind of impact, but I never thought that it would ever happen on a scale like this,” Popovich said. “It’s really rewarding to see how important these shields are and what they represent to so many people. It turns out that our shields are a lot more re-usable than the face shields that are currently available in production. It’s been great to hear that perhaps we might be paving a way for a different model of face shields to be produced that’s more sustainable for the medical industry.”