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Neighborhood Allies

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429 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1900
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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412.471.3727

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412.471.3746

EMAIL

info@neighborhoodallies.org

Get To Know Your Allies | Post-COVID Edition | Ben Emswiler

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When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Neighborhood Allies immediately took action, pivoting and shifting our programs and investments to align with the current needs of our residents and neighborhoods. Our staff diligently adjusted their work to create and implement effective strategies to help stabilize our partners and lift up those working so diligently to serve their fellow community members. Read more about how our staff and programs have adjusted meet people where they are at and provide the resources they need in the post-COVID world.

Ben Emswiler, Office Manager and Executive Assistant

As Executive Assistant and Office Manager, Ben is responsible for providing high-level administrative support to the President and running the office in a highly efficient and effective manner. He works closely with all staff on administrative and organizational functions. He also works with senior management and the Board of Directors coordinating Board and committee meetings. In this role as Executive Assistant and Office Manager, Ben actively contributes to the vision and direction of Neighborhood Allies, ensuring the health and reputation of the organization. Beginning in 2020, Ben will also act as Program Administrator for our real estate work. This entails supporting the Director of Real Estate Services and the functions of the new Centralized Real Estate Accelerator.

How did your work pivot to address the COVID-19 crisis? As Office Manager and Executive Assistant, many daily responsibilities include hands-on tasks and in-person interaction supporting the President as well as the entire Neighborhood Allies team. However, similar to many businesses and organizations in the region and across the country, normal office operations had to adjust quickly when the entire team transitioned in March to working remotely full time. Communicating efficiently and effectively was key during this critical time of ensuring the continuation of streamlined office operations while also navigating the complexities of COVID-19. It was an all hands on deck approach, not only in regard to successfully running an entire organization from home and continuing the extraordinary work of Neighborhood Allies, but also with our response to the economic crisis that has been caused by policy implications related to COVID-19. Much of my time was spent working on programs and initiatives that immediately responded to the needs in our communities, such as our CARE Fund and Paycheck Protection Program work. The other half of my time consisted of pushing ahead with normal office operations while assisting with long-term organizational strategy that included planning and organizing important Board and committee meetings as well as work related to our 3 Year Roadmap, among other things. 

Over the past few months, how has that work continued to evolve?  It seems that the office environment of old will never be the same again. Amid the chaos and uncertainties of 2020, Neighborhood Allies has been able to function normally, carrying out its mission and executing its programs. We have even remained financially healthy and have continued to add new talent, all while working remotely. Our ability to effectively work from home means that senior management and the operations team now have the freedom to explore alternative working styles that could possibly be implemented in the long term. This means that I have had to focus more energy on developing new internal policies and procedures that will accommodate this likely long-term shift in working styles. At the beginning of 2020, everyone was certain that the return to a normal work environment would occur sooner rather than later. Now that we know this is not the case, office operations and tasks that were once thought of as temporary are now becoming permanent. So it has become a constant pursuit of figuring out best practices that are beneficial for the organization and the team as we continue to work remotely.

How were you personally able to adapt to working remotely? What was different, harder, or easier? It’s times like these that I am reminded how grateful I am for my job. I have a great boss and fabulous coworkers, all while working at a meaningful organization. The worst part of adapting to working remotely is not being able to work alongside these folks each day in person. While working remotely is oftentimes more efficient, it’s definitely not as fun! 

What gives you hope for the future? My dog, Ollie. 

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