Women of Influence move their mission forward amid COVID-19

When COVID-19 set in, everything changed. Many employees were sent to work from home where possible, in-person events were canceled and priorities shifted. The UnitedHealthcare Wisconsin/Michigan Health Plan’s Women of Influence committee saw their ideas for the year uprooted. 

The group had luncheons, quarterly WebEx meetings and in-person volunteer opportunities on the calendar– all to help the women of the health plan connect and learn from one another. While the schedule was on hold due to COVID-19, the group wasn’t ready to give up.

“We wanted to stay focused and give everyone something positive to focus on,” said Angela Loberg, executive director, Small Business and Key Accounts for the health plan. 

They went to work, first launching a coloring contest for health plan employees’ kids, many of whom were now at home instead of in classrooms or daycare centers. The submissions came in, and planning committee members voted on the top three. The winning pieces were then converted into notecards for the group’s next activity: assembling care packages for a project with longtime partners, the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and charitable organization Today is a Good Day.

Today is a Good Day was founded by Paul Sharkey, vice president of Small Business and Key Account sales for the Pennsylvania and Delaware Health Plan, and his wife, Martha.  The two have twin daughters, Claire and Mary, who were born more than 16 weeks premature. After losing Mary just 14 days after birth, Paul and Martha spent another 89 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) before bringing Claire home in early 2011. They made it their mission to provide personal and financial support to families who experience the NICU. 

After the Women of Influence members had collected the supplies for the care packages, they set up an elaborate multi-room system to allow for safe social distancing while assembling the care packages. In less than a day, the small team built 750 packages that were delivered to the Children’s Hospital in honor of Today is a Good Day.  

Jessica Daun, Susan Ledvina and Beth Forkes assemble care packages in the Milwaukee office.

The team feels great about what they were able to accomplish, especially in the middle of a pandemic. And they have resumed their speaker series, hosting one event already and the next planned for September. In March 2021, the group hopes to be able to host in-person events once again. 

“We didn’t want to let the pandemic ruin the momentum and progress we’ve made,” said Angela. “No matter what happens, our team is determined to find ways to stay connected and give back.”