Emily Dwosh’s passion for philanthropy and community engagement is the foundation for her career in corporate social responsibility. Dwosh joined Sundt in August as our very first community relations manager and first full-time Sundt Foundation executive director, helping to advance the strategy of the Sundt Foundation by engaging more employee-owners in giving and volunteering opportunities. In this Q&A, Dwosh shares her philosophy on community engagement and her strategies for maximizing positive impact.
What is your role with the Sundt Foundation?
I work with passionate employee-owners and leaders to build upon the great work that the company has created over the last few decades, with the goal of magnifying the impact and growing our programs. We are celebrating a record-setting year, raising $1.8 million for our local communities and distributing 228 grants across our giving areas, which we shared about in our most recent Impact Report. This year, the Sundt Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and we cannot wait to celebrate our collective accomplishments since its inception.
What have your first few months looked like?
It has been an exciting whirlwind! I kicked off my time by meeting hundreds of employee-owners, visiting several of our Foundation giving areas and learning about Sundt’s commitment to the community. I’ve also spent time hearing directly from employee-owners across the organization about what they enjoy most about the Sundt Foundation and what opportunities exist for the future. It has been a jam-packed few months!
What makes a company’s community relations initiatives successful?
Multiple elements of a successful community relations strategy all work in tandem to generate impactful results. It starts with commitment and engagement from leadership. If you don’t have buy-in from the decision makers at the top, your ability to create and grow community initiatives can be limited. Thankfully, Sundt leaders are already extremely engaged as giving back to the community is woven into the fabric of Sundt’s culture. From there, it’s a matter of aligning a company’s business strategy with its community relations efforts, developing strong relationships internally and externally, and figuring out how to meet the needs of the communities where we live and work.
Could you share a couple of your short-term and long-term goals for Sundt’s community relations efforts?
With the Sundt Foundation’s 25th anniversary, we are celebrating our incredible impact over that time and building out long-term strategies for the next iteration of the Sundt Foundation. Our number of projects has been increasing rapidly throughout our regions, so we want to ensure we are also growing our community impact accordingly.
What kinds of programs will you be implementing over the next year to achieve these goals?
I continue to formalize our existing programs around giving and volunteering in our local communities. These programs have a long legacy, and I am excited to see how we can build upon them, making it easier for our employee-owners to be connected to the needs of our communities. I will also be working to streamline and enhance the grant process, ensuring our local committees are supporting the greatest needs where they live and work.
In what ways do you tap into the needs and desires of the communities that Sundt serves?
One of the fantastic parts about how we have structured our community relations and Foundation efforts is that we have local leaders in each of our 12 giving areas who advocate and champion the causes and organizations in their communities. Over the first few months and into next year, I will be visiting all our giving areas and meeting with local nonprofit organizations and employee-owners to directly hear and see where we can make the greatest impact. Visiting these areas has really brought to life what role we play in our communities.
What is your personal philosophy when it comes to community building?
What I have seen most successful in terms of community building is when an organization and its people connect to causes that align with their passion and purpose. So, what does that look like for Sundt? It is about finding causes where our passionate and skilled builders can make a difference that we are uniquely poised to support. We featured two remarkable stories in the Sundt Foundation’s 2023 Impact Report about how our employee-owners used their time and skills to help with a play space with Make-A-Wish San Diego and a renovation of Phoenix-based Foster Alliance’s resource center.
What is the best part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is connecting with employee-owners and helping them ignite their passion in the community. This past holiday season has been filled with many successful drives and fundraisers to help our local communities, such as our St Mary’s Food Bank fundraiser, where we raised our highest amount to date, and our toy drive led by our project team in Goodyear. Seeing our employee-owners give back and support our communities makes my job so fulfilling.