“I think that the world is a very boring place when we all look the same, we all sound the same. We say the same things. And, you know, as we have a chance to learn from others, we also have a chance to teach others.”
Jon Thompson, CEO of Comunidad Connect
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the northern hemisphere after Haiti, and yet in 1998 when Jon Thompson arrived there on a surfing trip, he could tell they were on the cusp of a tourism boom that would bring in huge levels of foreign investment. Although he wanted to be a part of it, he didn’t have the investment backing to participate directly.
Jon returned to Atlanta and earned his master’s degree in Social Work. By the time he returned to Nicaragua a few years later, he had both the relationships and the understanding to connect local business owners with foreign investors.
In this conversation, Jon tells Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton some of the lessons he has learned over the years of operating an organization in and for Nicaragua:
· The importance of injecting resources and capital into the local community despite the extra creativity that is sometimes required to get things done
· How it is possible to improve quality of life in communities and access headcount by trading water filters and stove pipes for labor
· The steps Jon and his team took in the face of political unrest to ensure that those in the community with the greatest needs were cared for
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good morning, Scott Luton back with you here on supply chain. Now welcome to today’s show on today’s episode, we’re continuing our logistics with purpose series PowerBar, dear friends, over at vector global logistics on the series where spotlight and leaders and organizations that all are changing the world in some way, shape or form. So stay tuned as we look to increase your supply chain acute equip program. We note before we introduce our co-hosts and our featured guests here today, if you enjoyed today’s conversation, be sure to check us out and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. All right, welcoming in my steamed fearless co-hosts here today. We’ve got Greg white cereal supply chain tech entrepreneur, and trusted advisor. Greg, how are you doing? This is a great day. When these episodes get released, it will not be known that both but two episodes were recorded with Enrique and his esteem guests in one day, which is amazing.
Scott Luton (01:23):
It’s a, it’s an expiring day in any day. We get to do this, but two episodes in a row is fantastic. Yep. It feels like we have gone to basket Robbins or two scoops of vector, global logistics, and then you go, then you go get and mow your lawn. That’s right. I go mow my lawn. All right, couldn’t get any better. So also we have an Ricky Alvarez once again, managing director at vector global logistics as our cohost, along with Greg and I today. Enrique, how are you doing? Hey, good morning. Thanks God. Thanks Greg. It’s always a pleasure being with you, and I’m very excited about this particular episode, the guests, which I’m not going to name until you do the honors. This time is a good friend of mine, so I’m excited to be fun. And I look forward to it. So with all that said, Enrique and John, let’s welcome in our Enrique and Greg [inaudible].
Scott Luton (02:18):
We have mr. John Thompson, CEO of community connect joining us, John, how you doing? I’m doing great today. Uh, thanks Scott, Greg Enrique for, for having me on I’m looking forward to our conversation. We are to your ears have probably been burned a bit because we, as we were doing our homework and talking with Enrique, we were finding out a little bit about your background and a lot about your outstanding work. Your you’ve been leading now for 13 years. So looking forward to learning a lot more about that story, but before we do in Rica in Greg, let’s get to know John A. Little bit better and better yet get our listeners, afford them the opportunity to get in there, John butter. So John, the proverbial opening question that we love to learn more about it. Tell us where you’re from and give us, give us some of those secret stories from your upbringing,
Jon Thompson (03:05):
Right on. Well, thanks. Uh, as Enrique knows, uh, I’m an Atle and through and through born here in Atlanta in 1974, it was a time, a lot of people that were thinking differently here in the South, I found Atlanta to be an Island where they could express themselves. My parents were, were no different. They came from North Carolina, moved to Atlanta in the late sixties and found a small community here called little five points. It was already very eclectic. People came in to Atlanta from the South with, with big ideas who will remember that there was a lot of political activism at that time. And so, um, a lot of the agitated, if you were kind of congregating around these in-town communities and began credit unions and co-ops grocery stores, radio stations, newspapers, and I’m around a little five points in count park. And I up in all of that.
Jon Thompson (03:58):
And it was, uh, when, as I get older, I realize how much that made it a big impact on me. So I, I grew up, I grew up here, I’m now back in Atlanta after a number of years in Nicaragua. And I’ll get to that in a little bit, but here growing up in, in the South and particularly in a city like Atlanta was just a blessing. Uh, and, and I’m very lucky to do so went to public school, um, here and then went on to private school and, um, in high school and then went off to college in Kentucky in a division three school called center college. And that’s kinda how I met Enrique.
Scott Luton (04:35):
You played soccer at center college in Kentucky. Is that right? That’s right. What position on the field
Jon Thompson (04:40):
Striker? I like score the goals.
Scott Luton (04:43):
He’s told us you break any records up in Kentucky.
Jon Thompson (04:48):
Absolutely not. No. Um, I was average at best, but it was a great, it was a, it was a great school. Um, little did I? Oh, um, it was, uh, known to be the Harvard of the South. Um, I realized that it was, I found it to be very difficult. It was also an, a dry County didn’t know that it even existed, but no, it was a, it was a great experience and soccer was a big part of my life. And afterwards that’s when I, when I came back to Atlanta played, uh, in an adult league with some friends and I met on Rican. That’s where we, we met that, that must’ve been back in the early two thousands.
Scott Luton (05:22):
You’re big Atlanta United fan, I believe. Right. Huge, huge, massive. Okay. Real quick before I, I want to talk a little bit more about your professional journey, kind of some of those key roles that kind of helped shape your world view before we get there, you really were talking earlier about little five points and how eclectic it is that area and really by extension the Atlanta area and how it can really stand out in the Southeast. Why is diversity of thought and a diversity of perspective so important?
Jon Thompson (05:54):
You know, I could, I have a lot of cliches could throw out there, you know, diversity
Scott Luton (05:58):
And spice of life and whatnot, but I’m,
Jon Thompson (06:01):
We were in collaboration, cocreation of initiatives and ideas. And that has kind of, you’ll see that in a lot of my work.
Scott Luton (06:08):
I think that the world is
Jon Thompson (06:09):
Very boring place. When we all look the same, we all own the same. We say the same things. And, you know, as we have a chance to learn from others, we also have a chance to teach others. So that exchange has been huge. I think for me, my mom was a teacher. My dad was, he was assistant director of community development for the cab County of the largest counties in Georgia. And so I just kind of grew up around people of different colors and backgrounds. My church was a very small church, part of an underground railroad were refugees coming through central America, you know? And so I think I just, I drink that Koolaid by the buckets. It’s just kind of in my DNA now.
Scott Luton (06:45):
Excellent. Alright. So let’s talk about your professional journey a bit. And, uh, I know, I know you’ve been leading the calls at your organization now for 13 years, but prior to that, and you may be as young as you are. There might not be a whole bunch of prior to that, but, but what helped shape your ability to move into the role that you’re in now? It actually all started with a
Jon Thompson (07:06):
Surf trip. I mean, uh, it doesn’t sound very much like professional journey, but I took a, after I graduated college in 97 and went on a road trip through central Mexico and central America in 1998. And that’s really when I, my eyes became wide open to the fact that there are other people in this world living in much different ways than, than I was and speaking to different lives. I mean, I just moved so naive and I didn’t really realize that until I got out of the United States and saw what other people were going through. And so as we went through Mexico, a lot of, you know, we were surfing. So we were on the Pacific coast of Baja and from muscle plant all the way down to the Guatemalan border. I saw a lot of different iterations of tourism, um, a lot of different iterations of community.
Jon Thompson (07:56):
And when I got to Nicaragua’s six months later, I recognized that in 1998, Nicaragua was on the cusp of a tourism boom foreign investment was huge. And, um, I didn’t want to just sit by, I want to participate and I didn’t have any money. I didn’t come from money. You know, I’m not an investor, but I wanted to be involved in what I saw as a beautiful small community on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua on the cusp of something huge. And they had no idea of what was coming. And so I went back to Atlanta, I got my masters of social work at Georgia state university with a specialization or a focus area in community development, as opposed to the clinical side. And so instead of sitting down one on one with a, a client or a patient, I was sitting down with the community and I learned how to ask the right questions. I learned how to listen to the new ways and those community partnerships that were experienced in creating and developing those partnerships really led into the career of social work, but in a, in a community development, kind of, if you will,
Scott Luton (09:01):
Interesting, you know, as we, as I’ve looked back and Greg has, we’ve asked that question about professional journey through almost 400 shows. Now I can tell you that this is very unique because no one’s ever said, well, it started with a surf trip, but, but it makes so much sense, John. I mean, it makes so much sense. You know, we all have our blind spots based on our lifetime experiences and, and where that journey takes us. And I think it’s a beautiful story of how you go down there for a completely different reason. And it opens up your eyes to a lot of other like meaningful life changing experiences. I love it, Greg, your thought that’s it? That was exactly my thought. How many people’s career journey starts with it all started with a surf trip, made me think of a friend of mine who intended to remodel his house and wound up, tearing it down and building another one in this. And the story starts with it all started with this,
Jon Thompson (10:00):
Right? I mean the most unexpected
Scott Luton (10:02):
Did result from the most mundane or tiny sort of kernel. Right. So that, that’s amazing. I have to ask you, aside from the inspiration and clear, and that is a behind you is a picture of your, of your land, I think right in Nicaragua.
Jon Thompson (10:18):
Yeah. This is a coffee farm in the mountains of Nicaragua behind me.
Scott Luton (10:23):
So aside from that, where were the best waves for surfing on your trail?
Jon Thompson (10:28):
Yeah, not many ways here up on the Lake, the best waves, you know, Nicaragua has, I think, three of the top five waves in the world. Um, there’s a lot of reasons for that, uh, Lake Nicaragua and the winds that come across and trade an off shore, you know, wind, uh, 300 days out of the year, I think. Yeah. Nine months of incredible surf. Uh, so the Southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua is full of incredible waves that are absolutely empty, particularly nowadays. And so, yeah, anywhere there’s probably two dozen coves that have two Def two dozen different types of rates.
Scott Luton (11:04):
Do you still get a chance to go out there and surf some of those waves when you’re back in Nicaragua?
Jon Thompson (11:10):
Yeah. W w uh, I was there in February, um, just before the coronavirus hit and kind of shut everything down. Yep. It had my, I was supposed to have been there two times since, but here I am hot Atlanta. Yeah.
Scott Luton (11:23):
Well, at least you’re used to the humidity in Nicaragua, right.
Jon Thompson (11:26):
That’s right. I’ll tell you. Nicaragua’s an incredible place. It’s the second poorest country in the hemisphere after Haiti, but it is, it’s beautiful. I mean, that is known as the land of lakes and volcanoes. It is, the people are amazing. Their approach to hospitality is distinct comparable to anyone else anywhere else I’ve ever been. I thoroughly recommend I’m a, I’m a, I’m a Rover promoting Nicaragua every day.
Scott Luton (11:49):
Love it. Well, Greg, I think we want to dive more John’s organization,
Greg White (11:54):
Community dot connect, right? Yeah. So I’d love to understand kind of how you landed there and then what the company does. I’m hoping this segment also starts with it all started with a surf trip, but if not, I won’t be disappointed, John. So
Jon Thompson (12:12):
No. Well, it, it, it does, uh, it is a continuation, right? So picking up where I left off, I wanted to do, I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of the country’s growth and, uh, the communities where I was, uh, I wanted to contribute to their, to their growth. So, um, we moved, my wife was Nicaraguan met in 2000. We met in 1999 and we got married here in Atlanta. After I got my MSW, I went to work for United way for a little while, but I was looking at this at this panoramic picture of the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, where every day I’m a little cubicle. And I was like, you don’t have to do this work here in Atlanta, or I could do it in front of the beach. Why don’t we go back to Nicaragua?
Jon Thompson (12:52):
My wife was like, why do it my whole life? I’m trying to get out of Nicaragua, bless her heart. She, uh, she followed me. I don’t say follow me. We went down there together. We moved there in 2005 and, uh, lived there for 10 years. I didn’t know I was going to be that long. In 2007, we were seeing a foreign investment through the roof. Tourism tourism was really picking up and we’ve found in Nicaragua, I’m sorry. We found a community dot connect on the basis of, you know, what, there are people who are going to have a meaningful experience while they are traveling, whether on vacation with family or traveling alone on a surf trip or whatever they want them to enter into communities through the back where they don’t know the language, they don’t have the relationships and they might not have a clue what they want to do.
Jon Thompson (13:37):
They just want to do something meaningful. And on the other side of that equation, we had, there were people in duty that were doing incredible work that needed support, access to capital access to opportunities, whether they were making water filters or composting toilets that were serving the community, but they just didn’t know how to interact with this, this wave of foreigners that had access to resources. When I find my, I found myself smack dab in the middle, I knew the language I had had by that time, almost 10 years of relationships there in the community. And I had a little bit of experience with community development. So I said, why don’t we, you know, put the two puzzle pieces together. Like you see on that, right? Where we have a community that a community that wants to do good. And on, on the other side, communities that need that support, we put them together like puzzle pieces. And so community connect is just, that is connecting communities. Half of us, half of it’s in Spanish, half of it’s English. And I, I just I’m happiest when I find myself at the intersections of people who want to make a difference and I connect them with opportunities to do so. And that that’s the crux of community dot connect and a bit of the ethos story as well. So John look, the title
Jon Thompson (14:52):
Of CEO, everyone here has been a company leader, right? So the title of CEO is beautiful and it looks great on a business card, but sometimes it doesn’t represent what people would expect your job to be, or the totality of what you do. And I sent in an organization like yours. That’s probably true for you too. So tell us what you really do on a day to day basis, the kind of things that you do and interactions you have and that kind of thing. Well, we’ve always said that our, our capacity to know, make a difference is directly linked to the engagement and the size of our community here and so on for probably the first seven years, eight years of my work with community connect, I was developing programs, managing programs, managing staff. I was in country. And so it was what I love to do.
Jon Thompson (15:45):
Most of the grassroots work, we focus on community health. We want to run a health clinic. We provide a continuum of care for special needs patients. We support health, local health promoters in Nicaragua, as well as in the Dominican Republic. Now we build homes, we distribute water filters. We have a youth sports program that has a thousand kids. I mean, there’s, it’s very robust for the very small team. And, um, that’s where I’m happiest, kind of on the ground, getting my feet dirty, my hands, dirty, moving to the United States. What I do now, I’ve been back here for about three years. My business card should really be storyteller because the questions that you all are asking me, I get off. And I do like sharing my story with others because not the typical route to become CEO of a, for profit nonprofit. What I do now is, is I share the work.
Jon Thompson (16:41):
We, a lot of my time is spent on marketing communications. And certainly now with coronavirus it’s, we’ve been working on transitioning our in person events over to virtual virtual events. We’ve launched a podcast. It’s a lot of time in video, um, which is my home office. So that’s really how I’m spending a lot of my time. And that’s another way of saying fundraising because without fundraising, we can’t make, you know, obviously we can’t do anything. And half of our budget, half of our operating revenue in the past came from hosting groups of students and faith based groups in country to put us in the work. And we use that revenue to drive programs, but without the ability to travel and take volunteers abroad, it all comes down to the generosity of our, of our donor network. So that’s where I spend all my time. Now follow up on that.
Jon Thompson (17:32):
I’m curious what that fundraising donor relationship looks like now in, in today’s environment and only feel free to ask you such a complex question, because Enrique told us we can, we can ask you anything. I wonder what that looks like in this day and age. Well, what that relationship looks like. It’s, it’s, everybody’s different. And everybody’s capacity to give is different. Some people give from abundance. Some people give because of their commitment to cause some people support our work because they’re my childhood friend and they know me personally. And they say, well, if is in and I’m in too. So there’s no one necessarily no approach that works the same, your body or relationship that is not unique. But the most important thing about fundraising in this day and age is being genuine and being authentic and being humbled. When you meet someone new and being thoughtful, when you’re someone you’ve known a lifetime, because the last thing you want someone to think, wow, you know, he is just reaching out to me because he wants my money.
Jon Thompson (18:45):
Our organization is very people-centered and that’s the same kind of spirit that we bring to all facets of the work, whether it’s, you know, a, um, our pro for good program that provides meals to senior citizens living alone and or communities or it’s with, you know, a major donor it’s, it has to be based on very strong, very genuine relationships. Has it been harder because you can’t get people there in person or have you changed your approach substantially because you said it’s very people focused. Right. So obviously I think we’re all adapting to zoom, zoom meetings, right. That’s right. But, um, is there some way you’ve changed your approach because a little bit, yeah. You know, so we started a podcast much, like much like this we’re bringing, um, our team that’s in the field, Nicaragua trying to bring them more to the forefront. Um, language is always a barrier.
Jon Thompson (19:47):
Yeah. So, so that doesn’t always work. Our biggest challenge since day one, trying to explain the impact and really into intangible way is when people are able to go to Nicaragua or to the Dominican Republic where we’ve begun to do work. It’s a big challenge. And this has forced us to reengineer a lot of that exposure to the need, exposure to the opportunity, um, and try to do that virtually. And so now developing, since for example, since schools can’t join us in country, we’re bringing in the country to them in the classroom with like Google, Google earth flight simulators, actually taking off from Atlanta airport over the Caribbean landing in Managua, kind of getting like a hot air balloon and going into the community where we work then getting down, that’s kind of like the grass tops. Then we get into the best routes where we can actually have zoom meetings with our nurse in the clinic or
Jon Thompson (20:48):
Our, our field staff, that’s building homes or our local, you know, local leaders that we work with. So it’s forced us to exercise our creativity in ways we had never really done before. We’d kind of, we knew that we need to, we need to always need to innovate, but this has really forced that in innovation, you know, fast forward. So we’ll see, we’ll see so far where I think our virtual events have actually been able to engage more people in more ways than an in person event, every could. So, um, I’m optimistic.
Scott Luton (21:22):
Well, if I could ask a quick, quick question, Greg, before you continue, John, you paint a wonderful picture and it may be it’s part of your backdrop and it’s a lot of the words you use, but you really, I, it it’s, it’s easy to see how you’re a great storyteller as part of your role. So I envision all the stuff you need from the sports programs, to all the other services and support you offer the central American community and beyond how do you get all that stuff down there? What’s the, give us a snapshot of the logistics behind?
Jon Thompson (21:50):
Well, we try as much as we can to inject our resources in the local economy. So whatever we can buy, like it doesn’t make sense for us to bring down a bunch of medical supplies when we can buy them from the mom and pops pharmacy around the corner. And sending money is a lot easier than getting medical supplies through customs. Believe me, the sports program. For example, we built a sports facility, kind of renovated an old tennis court into a basketball and soccer or arena soccer and volleyball court. And there’s an NBA player ex NBA player that has a house in this community. And so I reached out to him and said, can you help us get some backboards? And so he reached out to his past organizations, which the Lakers in the Knicks got the Knicks to donate two full sets of basketball goals.
Jon Thompson (22:38):
Had them shipped down through the mayor’s son was in a major hardware store, a chain of garage, what got them to do the import export tax because it was through the government, through the mayor’s office and then delivered to us. So the engineer would level of ingenuity. Nicaragua is awesome, but a little bit of duct tape and some elbow grease, you can fix anything. Right? And so what I found is that the supply chain to get things there is not as difficult as you may think at first glance, but certainly we try to supply our programs with the resources they need was with local resources.
Scott Luton (23:20):
You’re investing on so many different levels. I love that that localization think about this supply chain started very locally, right? I mean, it started with us feeding ourselves. Right. Right. If you think about it, that’s where the supply chain really started. And then we had more like we do this year more squash and tomatoes than we could eat. So we took them to the neighbors or whatever. Right. I mean, it, it starts very simply and it starts locally. And I think
Greg White (23:46):
It’s good that you’re contributing so much to the economy that you’re trying to help. So that’s fantastic.
Jon Thompson (23:52):
Well, I think just being intentional about the way we spend our money is more important nowadays than ever before. So I’m glad that that, that shines through our work.
Greg White (24:02):
So can you name the NBA player? I bet we’re all dying to know who the heck that is.
Jon Thompson (24:06):
Well, I will. And he’s a, he’s, he’s a friend he’s been a great supporter of community connect for many years. Travis Knight. He has had a, a home in the town where my wife is from and where we found in Nicaragua on the coast of, um, on the Pacific coast there. And, um, we stay in touch throughout the year. And again, he’s, if he listens to big shout out to Travis Knight and he’s a great man, he was a great player. And, um, he’s a good friend.
Greg White (24:35):
That’s great to get people like that involved. They have so much power, right. I mean, and it’s encouraging when they, when they help leverage that power and knowledge and, um, awareness, uh, into something great. Like this is fantastic. I want to ask you about Eureka moments, but man, I think you’ve shared a couple here. So anything, I mean, is there anything else that has given you that sort of aha moment that has lit your fuse more than any of the other things that you’ve described here already?
Jon Thompson (25:09):
Well, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll give you two brief examples. I was working in a, in a community. I was working for the development, doing the corporate social responsibility work. And it was from one of the most influential and powerful families in Nicaragua. I was charged with managing the community relationships around their development, and there were seven communities, three different health centers. And when I saw that all centers and I went to go visit and I spoke with the staff, they were clogged with people, everyday women and children, primarily that had diarrhea and upper respiratory illnesses. And they couldn’t do anything else. They couldn’t get out of the community because there were attending so many people in their clinics that diarrhea and the upper respiratory illnesses are very preventable illnesses with access to clean water, clear it up 100%, but that’s huge washing hands and drinking, clean water, chronic diarrhea.
Jon Thompson (25:59):
Diarrhea was the number one killer for babies under five years old throughout the developing, right? And with a water filter that costs $30. You can make a big bet and that with a stove, that shit that funnels the smoke out of the roof, and doesn’t fill the house with wood smoke, you can cut down on that upper respiratory illness in big ways. And so that drove me to think, okay, well, how can we put two and two together? And next thing, you know, within five years we got 10,000 people with clean water, through water filters. They were buying with community service. They volunteer two days in a row doing work to improve their community. And we recognize that with a filter, we weren’t just landed, you know, parachuting in handing out filters, taking a picture and walking away, these were people earning them through their civic engagement.
Jon Thompson (26:51):
And that was, that was just a, how someone’s time can be the most valuable currency. Was it? That was not high moment for me. Wow. And the second one started, it was two years ago in 2018, there was a lot of social unrest in Nicaragua, it’s political instability. And it was a very disturbing time. And people, you know, widespread unemployment people were, didn’t have access to food. So we started like, like my staff said, we have to get food to these people who are elderly living alone or special needs, and they can’t cook for themselves. And so we started doing things that I’d never wanted to do whatever. And that’s hand things out and provide a meal. Even those nurse, you know, good nourishment, it was still a handout. And that was just something that we did not want to do. So today we are, we have acres of corn and acres of beans planted in the ground because we’ve begun to finance those local farmers thing, them loans at reasonable interest rates so that they can grow their own food.
Jon Thompson (27:57):
And then with the surplus, like your squash and tomatoes, and they can, they can take care of their neighbors in ways they couldn’t before, because they didn’t have the money because of the jobs. And this is an investment of $2,000. $2,000 can put 14 acres of corn in the ground that provides food for 40 people year around, plus a couple of thousand dollars in their pocket, which is the equivalent of an annual salary. So again, very simple things. Once they come together, my little head, they can cause a, a reaction that now hopefully will serve thousands and thousands of people, butterfly effect. That’s great. Well, okay. Now, Scott, I feel like maybe you and I ought to just sit and watch. So let’s turn and Rica loose. And I know, I know you and John are great, great friends, and I know you’re a big fan of what he’s doing at community connect. So share with us a little bit about what’s so inspiring about this for you and why you wanted to share this.
Enrique Alvarez (28:58):
Yeah, no, one of the main reasons I wanted to share this story was John himself. I mean, he said, I’m sure that everyone’s listening by now knows the kind of person or has a really good idea of what can a person John is. And, and it’s, uh, we’re good friends. We don’t get a chance to hang out as much as we would like to, uh, mainly cause he doesn’t want to play soccer with us anymore, but that’s a different story when you kick me in the shins every time. But, uh, but no, I, um, I admire what he’s done. Uh, and, and what he’s a straightforward, honest, hard working passionate person. And, and again, anyone that would start a story like, Hey, it started on a surf trip and then goes on to see that something’s wrong in the, or the plays that he was.
Enrique Alvarez (29:42):
And then instead of just going back and ignoring it, like he actually takes the time and built a company and changes his life around that particular moment. I think it’s just admirable and, and worth sharing. And, and, and again, part of the series that we have here, uh, with you guys, Greg and Scott, is, is sharing inspirational stories so that other people could kind of learn and follow the footsteps of, of good leaders. And so I just, yeah, John, I respect you as a leader and glad that you’re my friend. And, um, so congratulations cause what you’ve done, even inside community connect. Cause when we started talking about this years and years ago, it was only, or mainly the students going into and the coffee. Right. And I don’t know, you haven’t mentioned the coffee, but one question I had for you is how do you start growing into all this other aspects? Like the, the sports complex and the kids and the health and the food. And I mean, how, what’s your strategy into growing something that I think, and I might be wrong here started maybe at the coffee, where did it start on on how do you grow it to all this other program
Jon Thompson (30:49):
Around the same time? In 2007, when we founded a community connect, I was also invited to be part of a coffee farm and that’s, you know, pictured behind me. I had no money. So I told, I told my friend who was putting it all together. I said, I’m going to be involved, but I don’t know what I can do. And he said, well, I want you to be involved in the community level because it’s a 250 acre farm. It’s the largest organic coffee farm in Nicaragua. We are going to be, we’re going to, we’re going to make a splash. And if you could help us manage the communal relations, that’d be great. And so that’s how I got involved in the coffee farm. And it just so happened that in that community called Los Robles, uh, just outside the city of know Tayga on Lake, up on us, there was a vibrant community of engaged leaders.
Jon Thompson (31:36):
And after a year or two of saying, no, no, we can’t put a roof on the school. We can’t give the computer. The church that’s needed and abused. We can’t do everything. We took that time and developed relationships and really built trust. I really believe that change really happens at the speed of trust. And until you have that trust, it takes time to build, but once you have it, you’re locked in and you can do some amazing things. As I developed some relationships with the coffee farmers within the community and also in partners important to point out, there was a very strong relationship with Emory university’s business school, social enterprise, the center for social enterprise. I can always sweat, uh, at Emory was a big, a very important partner in the beginning of community connect and helped open our eyes to the fact that coffee is a product is, you know, the highest traded commodity in the world after yet, the countries that are that base their GDP on production are some of the poorest in the entire world.
Jon Thompson (32:42):
So we saw a huge discrepancy there about a coffee that costs $3 and 50 cents a cup at Starbucks was less than a dollar a pound for the farmers and they just didn’t have access to the markets. And so we were able to kind of understand, well, wow, there’s a really valuable resource here. How can we bring that to market much? Like we saw the community as an incredible place for research and a credible place for program development, but we just, we had to plug it into communities that have resources that could kind of get some programs up and running. The more we grasped the surface, the more layers of the ans we code back it. Yeah, it got stinky, but we also got stinky with us. And so we were able to, um, develop a, a coffee program called farmers to 40 that paid the farmers based on the price of coffee that consumers were paying, not on the commodity price. That’s really manipulated more by futures and hedge funds than the reality in Nicaragua,
Scott Luton (33:46):
Different spin on Enrique. His question to you as we go broader, John Enrique had, was also curious as we were chatting pre show about some other things you’re tracking across the global community. Right. Right.
Enrique Alvarez (33:59):
Okay. Again, challenging times are interesting times. I’m sure there’s a lot of opportunities that we can extract from this. And I’m pretty sure that all of us as human beings are going to learn a lot from going through this worldwide pandemic. But you talk a little bit about the marketing and some of the funding and how that has changed. But what other kinds of indicators are you currently tracking that would impact your, your organization and what do you keep an eye on
Jon Thompson (34:27):
Right now? There’s more than anything. We’re keeping an eye on COVID. And in 19 in Nicaragua, Nicaragua was one of the only countries in the world that did not establish social distancing, actually mandated pool, a held big rallies. There were no precautions put into place. Medical professionals were not allowed to wear masks for the first six weeks. And now we are seeing a widespread explosion of coronavirus and Nicaragua yesterday. One of my staff tested positive. There are people in very rural communities now that are testing positive. My focus, I guess my metric is a human metric right now. And it’s a concern. I think we all feel. Um, but certainly I think it’s, uh, magnified quite a bit in countries like, like Nicaragua. Certainly we want to travel there again. We want to begin our work via our, what we call our cultural connections program.
Jon Thompson (35:20):
When we take academic groups and faith based groups, even burden groups and corporate groups to Nicaragua and the dr. We track our success there. Not only in how many people we can bring down how much money we can raise doing so, but impact we can have by engaging and deploying those capital investments come from, um, from that side of the business. But right now it’s, it’s really tough because we can’t travel, but there’s promise that we’ll be able to get, get down there soon. And hopefully virtually we can bring that experience into the, into the classroom.
Enrique Alvarez (35:53):
Governments have changed their stance on how to fight the virus. And is there, um, is there anything that we or the listeners can do to kind of help this particular concern of yours and help people in Nicaragua kind of battle through the virus?
Jon Thompson (36:06):
Well, yeah, and the government has now accepted the fact that there is grown a virus. There’s no, there’s no denying that just it’s a little late, but they are making some, some strides in that regard and support in there, the medical staff and so forth, what we found the best way that we can help is working directly with communities. You know, they don’t have jobs. Those there’s really widespread unemployment. The economy wasn’t collapsed before Corona virus. So by supporting our work to, to get food on the, uh, on the tables of families that need it the most to give a safe shelter for the families that might be living in a dirt floor or have a plastic tarp has their roof, uh, as many do and communities where we work to helping out with our medical programs to provide this continuum of care with medicine and home visits and trips to visits to specialists.
Jon Thompson (36:58):
I mean, $5 goes a very long way in Nicaragua. And right now we’re, we’re recruiting a recurring, uh, supporters of our, of our work five, 10, $20 a month. You can’t, I can’t tell you how much impact that makes just yesterday. We highlighted a young man who came as a volunteer in 2014 and started a $15 a month donation when he got home. He since made 80 contributions and it is, you know, it’s just amazing that through that look through that small gift every month, that’s 50 cents a day, so much, so much help can be afforded so much impact can be made. And so I think that if people want to get involved, just understand that it’s very easy to do so there’s no reason why you can’t. We’re a very small organization. There’s not a lot of overhead. And all of the dollars that we raised that go, that are earmarked for programs go 100% of programs. And so I just encourage people to visit us on, on our website, community.connect.org. Um, we’re also very active on Facebook and Instagram and in our podcast, that connection also has episodes every week, as well as, uh, Facebook live events. We’re big music fan. So if you like our music and spread the word, so we always said, look, you can share you share our story, come and volunteer, or make a donation. There’s, there’s three great ways to get involved.
Enrique Alvarez (38:29):
Outstanding. Who’s your favorite music group by the way? Okay.
Jon Thompson (38:32):
Pick one. Ooh, right now, uh, I’m a big salsa fan. And so I would say Eddie Palmieri is my, uh, on heavy rotation. So Eddie Palmieri, great piano. It’s also great dancer too, by the way,
Scott Luton (38:47):
Really, we’re gonna have to check that one out. Greg’s a big dance around our team. Right? Right. Really, it’s hard to be down when you’re listening to someone
Jon Thompson (38:55):
That’s right. Full heartedly. Agree.
Scott Luton (38:58):
All right. So appreciate you sharing how folks can connect to course, we’re going to share all those links while there’s the links, at least in the show notes. Hey, John got one final question before we wrap up. I like your down to earth leadership style and just authentic approach that you bring to the table. And this is the first time we’ve, we’ve met her a lot about you, but based on what you and your team have been building and the mission you’ve been serving and, and the good you’ve been doing, the very real, tangible good you’ve been doing speak to those aspiring leaders, whether they’re still in school, whether they’re early in their career, what makes it happen from a leadership standpoint?
Jon Thompson (39:35):
For me, it kind of goes against the grain to say that my career has been driven, not by money. It has been 100% based on my values. And when I speak with young professionals where they’re out of school or in school still, I urge them to reflect first and find work that speaks to what makes them happy. Because when I talked to the old timers and I listened to what they really, when they look you in the eye and say, son, happiness is worth more than money. And you have to balance that, right? Because you got to have money to put food on the table, but I go to bed every night, happy and satisfied because I know my work is making a difference in the lives of others. And if I can make a living doing that, then I want that to be an inspiration for other people that well, maybe I don’t have to go down the traditional route and maybe I don’t have to climb that corporate ladder to be happy because really what is happy happiness at the end of the day,
Scott Luton (40:43):
Love that Greg Enrique a lot there, we could dove into that last segment, I think a couple hours, but Greg, your key takeaway or your final thought with, with John one surfers, save the world. And two, that, that last statement reminds me of the parable of the, of the big six consultant and the Mexican fishermen. I’d encourage people to look that up, read through it. It is an inspiration for your life. And it does give you a clarity of direction in that regard. And secondly, you know, in addition to that, I’d say kudos, frankly, to your wife for a,
Jon Thompson (41:23):
On you to do this and
Scott Luton (41:26):
Participating with you in it and allowing you to spend some time in, in country. I mean, we have talked to Tanya Allen
Greg White (41:34):
From Venezuela and a number of folks who have left their, their home country and they are loathed to go back. So we know what a difficult decision that is to make congrats to her and her part in, in participating in this. And of course to you and the team. And I hope you guys get to get down there again soon.
Scott Luton (41:58):
Well, sure. It was Chicago, Greg. Yeah. We can all have like a little trip down to Negro.
Greg White (42:05):
So I have some friends who are from there as well, and
Scott Luton (42:09):
It could be a good retreat for, for supply chain. Okay.
Greg White (42:12):
I have a salsa contest while we’re down there. Hey, we’re from Georgia man. We’re not, we have no problems with a blue, with a blue roof. Right. The blue tarp roof is like a natural thing in Georgia.
Scott Luton (42:24):
All right. Enrique, your final thoughts as we wrap up here with John Ben, just to bless her having him on the show, I’m sure we’ll going to have him again once we reopened and after maybe his first strip, and maybe we can think of something even remotely while he’s down in Nicaragua, but no, thanks. Thanks John. For everything you do again, wish we could hang out more often, but, uh, but thank you very much, uh, for, for just leading with the example and, and yeah, thanks a lot. John folks can learn more. I think we’re gonna include your LinkedIn profile. We’re gonna include your URL, which is community.connect.org. And we encourage our listeners to reach out as, as John put it out there. There’s, it’s really easy to plug in and help the mission that you and your organization owns a big thanks to John Thompson CEO at community dot connect. Thanks so much, John. Thanks for having me guys.
Greg White (43:13):
Yeah, big. Thanks.
Scott Luton (43:15):
Also once again, the Greg White’s serial supply chain tech entrepreneur, regular cohost here, in fact, host of the new show, which is getting rave reviews across the world, Greg, to cross the world. That’s right. Hey, you got to go big and stay home, right? Yeah.
Greg White (43:31):
Yeah. That’s all right. I guess.
Scott Luton (43:34):
And of course we couldn’t make this series. It wouldn’t be possible without the great team over at vector global logistics, Enrique Alvarez, you and your team are inspirations in your own. Right? And we appreciate you how you bring these stories like John’s here and his organization and, you know, give it our little spotlight that we’ve been growing here because there are stories that need to be heard and their missions that folks can get on board and really help make an impact. Thank you. And thank you, Scott and Greg for allowing people to come and share their stories, share their experiences. And hopefully by just increasing the awareness and just sharing the story is you on what saying, um, you’re also making a big change in the world. So thanks for what you do at supply chain. Now you bet I’d love to do it to our audience.
Scott Luton (44:18):
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this story as much as we have, as I look at the, all the shows that we’ve had here, some of my favorite church or shows just like this, where you’ve got passionate leaders on a mission that are doing big things and it’s like a calling and it’s a real, tangible, practical impact, and other parts of the world. Folks that as John laid out, folks that need it like Nicaragua being one of the, I think the second, second poorest country in the Western hemisphere, I think is what John shared, you know, let’s, let’s get out and make a difference. So on that note, hopefully enjoyed the show. We challenge the do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here watching.
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Jon Thompson graduated from Centre College in 1997 with a B.A. in History. He first visited Nicaragua in 1998, returned every year thereafter, and married his wife from there in 2002. That same year, Jon obtained his Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Community Partnerships from Georgia State University. Jon and Arelis moved to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua full time in 2005, and Comunidad Connect was founded shortly thereafter. After 10 years in Nicaragua, Jon and Arelis returned to Atlanta where they now live with their children Jon Rockett and Camila. Jon is CEO and a board member for Comunidad Connect.
Enrique Alvarez serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as: Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials and Private banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has a MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean and also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people and spending time with his wife and two kids Emma and Enrique. Learn more about Vector Global Logistics here: https://vectorgl.com/
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.