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Value through ethics

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The concept of ethics in business is all about value – value for colleagues, value of community, value of clients.

That’s the shared message from winners of this year’s Ethics in Business awards.

The annual awards honor individuals, businesses and nonprofits that show a devotion to ethical principles. This year’s winners are Frontier/Golden Pride Inc., Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers Inc., Adelante Development Center Inc., Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque, Antavius Greathouse and Kara Bobroff.

“The Ethics in Business Awards capture New Mexico at our most affirming and optimistic,” award selection committee Chairman Todd Sandman wrote in an email. “It is genuinely uplifting to learn about so many nominees who are leading with their ethics and values and leaving a lasting impact on our state.”

Individuals, businesses and nonprofits are nominated by their peers, evaluated by University of New Mexico students, then considered fully by a diverse selection committee, according to Sandman, who is also senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

An awards banquet honoring winners was originally scheduled for April 23 but was postponed due to the pandemic. This year’s award recipients instead will be celebrated in April 2021 along with the 2021 recipients.

Sponsors of the program are Wells Fargo Bank; Bank of Albuquerque; CliftonLarsonAllen; French Funerals and Cremations; Kirtland Federal Credit Union; PNM Resources; Admiral Beverage Co.; UNM Anderson School of Management, UNM Health Sciences; Glass-Rite; Merrill Lynch, The Humphrey Group; New Mexico Gas Co.; New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership; and Sunny 505.

The Albuquerque Journal is a media sponsor of the event, which is managed by CNM.

Frontier/Golden Pride Inc.

Frontier Restaurant and Golden Pride co-founders Larry and Dorothy Rainosek. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Larry and Dorothy Rainosek have seen their share of highs and lows over the years.

The husband-and-wife team who co-founded Frontier Restaurant and Golden Pride are facing the same challenges as many other restaurants across the country today. While the Rainosek’s four Golden Pride restaurants are doing well – better, even, than before the pandemic – the University of New Mexico-adjacent Frontier has taken a major hit.

“It’s really been a difficult, difficult time with the pandemic, and then not being able to open was the worst,” Dorothy said. “… People weren’t accustomed to Frontier being to-go.”

But those factors don’t sway on the principle the Rainoseks have operated under for decades: that when a community is good to you, you’re good back. And despite everything in recent months, Albuquerque has been good to them. Dorothy said she saw that community support when Frontier reopened with sidewalk seating.

“People were excited that we were open,” she said. “… And I’m glad.”

The Rainoseks’ companies have jointly received this year’s Rust Award for Excellence in Ethical Business Practice by a Medium-Sized For-Profit Business.

“We feel that if everyone were to treat one another ethically … what a fabulous world this would be,” Dorothy said. “It would be a utopia.”

It’s one reason the Rainoseks have tried to do right by local charitable causes. According to the nomination for their award, that includes support for UNM, a number of education- and art-related nonprofits, and their own church.

The Rainoseks said they’re happy to support projects that do good in the community. When they were approached by Geraldine Forbes Isais of UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning about the effort to launch what’s now the Indigenous Design & Planning Institute, the Rainoseks said, they were excited about the program, which they felt was an important one, and made a major contribution.

“We’re happy to say the program is flourishing,” Dorothy said.

Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers Inc.

Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers President and CEO Chris Youngblood. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

If the leaders of Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers weren’t totally convinced they had the right approach to workplace wellness, they’re sure now.

The Albuquerque-based structural engineering firm – which is the recipient of this year’s Rust Award for Excellence in Ethical Business Practice by a Small-Sized For-Profit Business – takes a three-tier approach to workplace wellness, offering tools to support its 34 employees’ physical, financial and emotional health.

Company president and CEO Chris Youngblood said he’s seen that robust commitment to holistic health pay off during the near-unprecedented stress of the pandemic.

“It’s prepared our staff for … the trying times that we’re going through now,” he said. “… We’ve set ourselves up for success.”

Much of Chavez-Grieves’ wellness programming has been able to continue even with staff working remotely. The company’s regular sponsored “adventure outings” – which range from fishing and mountain biking to participation in the famously grueling Tough Mudder race – are on hold, but its gym membership reimbursements carry over to home-based fitness subscriptions like Peloton memberships.

Access to a personal financial planner and other financial resources have moved online.

The mindfulness classes Chavez-Grieves rolled out more recently are available online now. And the company’s counseling services – which it always made available – are being put to good use, Youngblood said.

“We don’t get access to who calls,” he said. “But we get reports on the numbers, and those numbers are up.”

While the next-level wellness programs aren’t the same when they’re not in person, Youngblood said the company has focused on a message of “consistency and persistence” this year.

Leaders at the firm – whose work locally has included the new Isotopes Park and the Pit renovation at UNM – say their approach to workplace wellness stems from the company’s purpose statement.

“We start by recognizing that our people, without exception, are our most valuable resource,” Youngblood said.

Adelante Development Center Inc.

Adelante Development Center President and CEO Mike Kivitz. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Adelante Development Center President and CEO Mike Kivitz can no longer give a good elevator pitch that describes his organization’s work.

That’s because in the more than four decades since its founding, Adelante has expanded the scope of its work to the point that it just can’t be described briefly anymore.

“We used to be able to give a good elevator speech and say we serve people with intellectual disabilities,” Kivitz said.

Today, Adelante serves people with all sorts of disabilities, in all corners of the state. It has a residential program, and, before the pandemic, ran a day program. It runs a meal-delivery program to seniors in Doña Ana County and Back in Use, an Albuquerque nonprofit resource that takes in donated medical equipment, including wheelchairs and walkers and gives them away to those in need. The list goes on.

Jill Beets, Adelante’s vice president of marketing and communications, estimates the organization impacts the lives of about 81,000 people a year, ranging from those in residential programs down to people who perhaps receive a few meals on a temporary basis.

“We’ve gone above and beyond our mission in a lot of ways,” she said.

Adelante received this year’s Hopkins Award for Excellence in Ethical Practice by a Large-Sized Non-Profit Organization. Beets said over Adelante’s many years, it has tried to always provide value to communities. That means working hard to avoid stepping on toes – offering partnership rather than competition to other nonprofits with overlapping purposes.

With involvement in so many projects, Kivitz said Adelante has never lost sight of its aims: offering resources to the community and elevating the lives of the people it serves. “We want people to see that the people we support are of value to the community,” he said.

Beets said that mission is even more crucial during the now monthslong pandemic.

“It’s really important that we all sort of get through this situation together,” she said.

Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque

Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque Executive Director Shauna Frost, left, and staff members from left to right, Kathy Frost, Andrea Monk, Michelle Jones and Caillin Murray. The organization is the recipient of this year’s Hopkins Award for Excellence in Ethical Practice by a Small-Sized Non-Profit Organization. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque may have a staff of just 18, but between that team and an army of volunteers – about 550 at the moment, according to Executive Director Shauna Frost – the nonprofit has an outsized impact through its work of providing home-delivered meals to about 600 New Mexicans every day.

Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque is this year’s recipient of the Hopkins Award for Excellence in Ethical Practice by a Small-Sized Non-Profit Organization.

Frost said the organization has worked hard to mature in its nearly 50 years by avoiding complacency and embracing best practices.

“We’re constantly questioning who we are and what voices haven’t we considered,” said Frost, who began with the organization as a volunteer driver and has been executive director for more than six years. “… We’ve really taken a lot of steps to bring ethics to the forefront.”

Even good changes aren’t always easy. When Meals on Wheels of Albuquerque first implemented mandatory background checks for volunteers several years ago, some long-term volunteers were taken aback.

“That was really tough,” Frost said. “It was a long road, and there were some people who definitely were not happy about it, but we got through it.”

Still, staffers stuck to their guns and worked hard to explain to volunteers how the new policy was best for the clients. And this year, after COVID-19 arrived in New Mexico, the team had to get even more flexible. Instead of daily hot meals, the nonprofit switched to weekly deliveries of frozen meals for a time to reduce exposure among volunteers and clients. When the organization was ready to switch back to hot meals, some clients found they preferred the frozen meals, either because they weren’t ready for more frequent visits, or because they liked the flexibility the frozen meals afforded them. It was a “happy finding,” Frost said, and today, about half the meals delivered are frozen. Frost said she’s proud of her team for adapting.

“My team is just amazing and this pandemic has really shown that,” she said.

Antavius Greathouse

Antavius Greathouse, a financial advisor at Legacy Financial Group, is this year’s Emerging Leader in Ethical Excellence. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

For Antavius Greathouse, the concept that knowledge empowers is key.

It’s why Greathouse, a financial adviser at Legacy Financial Group, says he’s doing exactly the job he wants to be doing: giving clients the tools and education they need to take control of their finances.

“I have the platform to serve the people I’ve always wanted to try to help,” said Greathouse, the recipient of this year’s Emerging Leader in Ethical Excellence.

Greathouse, an Austin, Texas, native, said he grew up in poverty with little sense of how to manage finances.

“We didn’t have anyone to really teach us about credit, finance, investments,” he said.

Greathouse got those lessons himself when he went off to college. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Texas State University, he initially took a job with Morgan Stanley. After four years, though, Greathouse decided to go out on his own into the world of advising.

“To me, I think the biggest way for a lot of New Mexicans to improve their situation is … the more knowledge and information and guidance you can seek, it really kind of helps you get your financial household in order,” he said.

Today, Greathouse said his clients are widely varied: office workers, teachers, small-business owners, construction companies, tax firms and more.

“It’s kind of a great mix,” he said.

After months of global financial insecurity, Greathouse said he’s seeing more new faces.

“Everyone’s more concerned about their finances and their retirement and their futures,” he said.

Being nominated for an ethics award by a client “means everything,” Greathouse said.

“There can be a certain stigma around financial advisers,” he said. “(The nomination) speaks volumes to the way that I run my business. … Ultimately, they have to be able to trust you.”

Kara Bobroff

Kara Bobroff has received the PNM Award for Individual Excellence in Ethical Business Practice in Honor of John Ackerman. (Courtesy of Naca-Inspired School Network)

It’s not easy to match pace with Kara Bobroff.

The Navajo/Lakota educator – who founded both the Native American Community Academy and later the NACA-Inspired Schools Network – briefly served as deputy secretary of identity, equity and transformation under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Public Education Department. According to NISN board member Ian Esquibel, who has worked with and for Bobroff in a variety of capacities for years, Bobroff’s energy is nothing new.

“My observation when I worked with her was she was hard to keep up with because she is such a force,” Esquibel said, adding he considers Bobroff “one of our state’s strongest leaders” as well as one of his own mentors.

Bobroff is the recipient of this year’s PNM Award for Individual Excellence in Ethical Business Practice in Honor of John Ackerman. According to Esquibel, who nominated her for the award, Bobroff has used her own leadership skills to create lasting change.

“Kara is a visionary and a team builder,” Esquibel said. “She’s somebody who really values community and creates it within the organizations that she leads.”

Bobroff started her career as a special education teacher before founding NACA. Today, the public charter school has grown to serve students from more than 60 tribes, according to the school’s site.

Esquibel said Bobroff’s leadership style isn’t to control, but rather to encourage talent among her team and draw out participation in communities she’s serving.

“She’s committed to developing people and leaders and young people in particular,” Esquibel said. “She has a lot of clarity and confidence in what she’s doing.”

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