Every year, there’s this special moment where we pause and recognize some extraordinary individuals among AT&T. These are employees who go the extra mile, and put in hours of their time, energy, and heart to make a positive difference in their communities. These are team members who exemplify our values and know that connecting is more than making a call or sending a text message, it’s about changing lives, shaping futures, and making our world a better place. They are proof that connecting changes everything.

Environmental Stewardship Leader Award

Gloria Ortiz, Lead Training Design – AT&T Learning & Development

Dallas, Texas

Gloria planting trees

At AT&T, our aim isn’t just to deliver exceptional service, but to do so with a mindful consideration of environmental sustainability. Gloria is a shining example of this commitment. She doesn’t just share our mission, she lives it. Gloria serves an organization called For the Love the Lake, which is dedicated to maintaining her community’s gem, White Rock Lake.

“The Area around the lake is so beautiful,” she said. “I am doing my part to preserve that beauty by picking up trash that can be harmful to plants, animals, and humans.”

Her efforts don’t just stop with cleaning up the environment. Her spirit of service permeates across Dallas, touching a multitude of causes. Causes such as Compudopt, an organization that collaborates with AT&T Believes in refurbishing equipment for underserved communities, a step towards bridging the Digital Divide. She is actively involved in other neighborhood cleanups around South Dallas. Closer to home, she’s taken it upon herself to spruce up her apartment complex.

“I believe that you treat the world around you the same way you treat the people around you,” she shared.

But wait, there’s more to Gloria’s story. In addition to her remarkable volunteer work, Gloria also plays a pivotal role as the VP of Public Relations for the Dallas Chapter of HACEMOS – our Hispanic Employee Group. Her primary role on the board is recruiting volunteers for annual events like the HACEMOS golf tournament, scholarship banquet, and High Technology Day.

Gloria’s tireless volunteer efforts are a testament to her unwavering commitment to service and community. Her contributions not only make a difference but also inspire others to take action. She admitted that being recognized for these efforts feels a little strange, as the work is its own reward.

“It took me years to log my volunteer hours with the company. It wasn’t until I discovered that AT&T gave additional charity rewards. It was a way to do even more to help the causes I believe in.”

I like to have a positive impact in my community. I help those who need a hand without needing them to even ask. Volunteering has given me lifelong relationships that I would not have gotten anywhere else.

Digital Divide Leader Award

David Seides, Director Mid-Markets Customer Experience

Atlanta, Georgia

David headshot

Part of AT&T’s commitment to bridging the digital divide is making the internet accessible for all and supporting those underserved communities. It’s the contributions of individuals like David that bring this vision to life. It all started with a company meeting where employees were encouraged to volunteer just an hour of their time. It was then that David was introduced to UPchieve – an organization committed to fostering academic success among underprivileged students.

Once he started, it just got easier and easier to keep going. He now serves as a virtual tutor and role model. With the platform’s round-the-clock, online access, David has the flexibility to build his own set schedule but doesn’t hesitate to log on when has a bit of extra time.

“The more sessions I conduct, the greater the impact I see, the more I want to volunteer in the future,” he said. “My assistance could help a student pass a class, graduate high school, or even be the first in their family to go to college. The idea that I could play a small part in someone’s major accomplishment like that continues to light my volunteer fire.”

David recalls a tutoring session where he guided a student through a complex geometry problem. He walked the student through the maze of geometric complexities, unraveling the problem bit by bit, revealing a clever shortcut that greatly simplified the task. As the session progressed, he felt the student’s stress wash away as he completed the final problem without any assistance.

David’s work with UPchieve isn’t only benefiting the students it supports, but David has found that it has made him a better supervisor here in the office.

“It’s taught me to be more creative in my problem solving, to vary my communication style to meet the needs of my audience, and to be determined to overcome any obstacle.”

I have been blessed in my life to have opportunities to build my skills and have a great career, and volunteering my time me allows me to spread those blessings to others in need.

Community Leader Award

Susan O’Day, Lead Release Train Engineer — Corporate Systems and Talent Enablement

Arlington Heights, Illinois

Susan with some of her foster cats

Susan, a devoted animal lover with a special fondness for cats, began her animal rescue journey a dozen years ago when she started fostering cats and kittens. Despite already owning a significant number of cats, she realized that her capacity for adoption had reached its limit. This led her to foster for local animal rescues, a path that allowed her to continuously surround herself with the adorable charm of kittens.

In 2021, Susan’s commitment to animal rescue took a monumental leap. She founded Kittenville Inc., a 501c non-profit organization, dedicated to feline animal welfare. Affectionately named by a friend after Susan’s foster care room. While Kittenville is a nonprofit organization, they needed to partner to pull cats and kittens from shelters in the Midwest.

“Starfish Animal Rescue is a partnership that benefits both of us,” she said. “Kittenville acts as a foster, providing loving care and temporary housing. While Starfish, a licensed rescue, covers their medical care costs and the adoption process.”

Susan has saved over 550 kitty lives and she is no stranger to unique cases during her rescue work, such as Radish, who arrived at Kittenville at only 10 days old. Radish initially struggled with eating solid food, leading to a long journey with numerous vet visits, tests, and procedures. After several months under Susan and her team’s care, Radish was finally healthy enough for adoption with her brother, Jicama.

“Now, she has nothing holding her back from being someone’s forever kitty. Because of the amazing community of supporters we have with Kittenville, we were able to cover the costs of her care and make this possible!”

The volunteer spirit is contagious, and Susan takes every opportunity to espouse its virtues. She makes sure everyone knows that they get an annual volunteer day and that the company gives matching donations for logged volunteer hours.

“Interestingly enough, it was the livestream of another AT&T employee who fosters kittens that made me think that this was something I could do,” she said.

My volunteer work has helped me be a much more compassionate and empathetic person.
You never know what someone is going through. There is almost always more to the story.
It never hurts to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Community Leader Award

Rob Coleman, Collections Representative – Consumer Advocacy & Service

Nashville, Tennessee

Rob and Laya in scout gearScouting has been a part of Rob’s life since he was a boy. An experience that he always dreamt of sharing and passing on the values to his own children. But as luck would have it – his beautiful family turned out to be all girls. He thought his scouting days were behind him, but in 2019, the Scouts took a significant stride toward diversity and inclusion, allowing all genders to join. Not only did he now have another way to bond with his daughters over campfires and knot-tying, but he also found himself playing the role of mentor to a whole new generation of Scouts. Rob believes that it’s one of the best programs for young people to develop skills that can be used their entire lives.

“Scouts is an adventure that teaches about the outdoors, that some kids don’t have any other opportunity to experience. It gives me so much joy to witness the elation on a child’s face when they catch their first fish. We’re not only teaching these kids outdoor ethics but also how to be leaders. If we don’t build better citizens and bolster our community by using what have, then our children or their children may not have a community.”

Teaching our youth isn’t the only thing Rob enjoys about the Scouts. He also champions diversity and inclusion training for leaders, specifically focusing on disability awareness and how to help disabled Scouts succeed. This past year Rob had a young Scout who lives with Autism. He was triggered by personal contact and certain textures. With his training, Rob took things slowly and built a level of trust. Then while receiving his rank award that year, the young man showed Rob his gratitude in a big way.

“He came up to me with his mother, gave me a side hug, and said ‘thank you for helping me be a Scout.’ I still tear up thinking about it. It really motivates me to keep going.”

Volunteering has made me a better father, a better leader, and a better co-worker and we are fortunate that AT&T affords us a lifestyle that allows us to be able to give back.

Employee-led Giving Program Award

Isilay Baran, Director Member of Technical Staff

Middletown, New Jersey

Isilay in a grey blazerOn February 6, 2023, a 7.8 scale earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, followed by an almost equally devastating aftershock. This natural disaster had a massive impact, affecting over 15 million people. Originally from Turkey, with family still residing there, Isilay has a personal connection. Irrespective of her personal ties to the region, she felt it was impossible to sit still. With her family keeping her informed on what was most needed by survivors, Isilay sprang into action, organizing fundraising and aid efforts. And with Isilay’s network, there was no shortage of support.

“My sister is an emergency doctor in Turkiye and was able to provide me reliable info from the field. I am also on the executive board of the Turkish Women’s League of America and was able to get in touch with Turkish Embassies in New York and Europe to get additional information on how to help. I have friends who are part of volunteer rescue groups. I also have a large network of caring friends and colleagues who reached out with concern when they heard the news,” she said.

She started her focus specifically on researching organizations that were established AT&T giving partners. She then set up an employee giving campaign, reaching out to friends and co-workers asking to contribute. The biggest boost in momentum came when she reached out to our Corporate Social Responsibility team, who helped create a second company-wide campaign for earthquake victims, as well as, connect with AT&T Believes groups in Europe. The result of the two employee giving campaigns resulted in more than $100,000 raised for various disaster relief organizations to date.

Isilay’s efforts continue in many ways beyond the employee campaign. In addition to ongoing work to help those in her home country, she also takes part in many of the volunteer campaigns at AT&T throughout the year.

“AT&T has always prioritized its social impact with its purpose of connecting people to greater possibilities,” she said. “I find a lot of joy and meaning in being able to help others in need and AT&T has always empowered its employees to serve their communities.”

We are all connected and are touched by each other’s experiences. Volunteering gives us an opportunity to help equalize the field as well as understand and appreciate different points of view and life experiences.

Community Leader Award & Volunteer of the Year

Mariano Cosentino, Business Management – Technology Services International

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mariano giving a Scout saluteMariano has always been one to lend a hand in his community. Whether it’s participating in clean-up activities at local parks and beaches or contributing to the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, he is guided by the mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” His greatest motivation for volunteering is his son. “If I want to leave a better world to my kid, I have to help make it happen,” he shared.

Mariano’s involvement with the Scouts started at that first meeting with his son. Instead of just dropping his son off and going home, he stayed and asked how he could help. Little did he know that it would lead to years of volunteering and then becoming a Scout leader himself.

“I did anything from cooking to painting, cleaning to cabling. Whatever was needed, I was there to help. I started subbing in when a leader was out and fell in love with guiding these children and being part of the movement.”

Being a Scout leader is a commitment, it’s not just the time you spend with the kids, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes tasks that happen. There’s planning and organizing events, preparing lessons, leader training, the list goes on. Feels like there may not be enough hours in the day. But what there is no shortage of… is those memorable moments that are created.

“When you are dealing with young kids, it’s hard not to have a bunch of them,” Mariano shared, “There was a summer camping trip and on our first night, we had a huge storm – buckets of rain, winds bringing down branches on our tents, even hail. Since we knew the storm was coming we moved everyone inside. Still, when the storm hit, we lost power, and the sound was deafening. When we checked in on the kids to make sure no one was afraid, they were all fast asleep.”

The rewards of being a Scout leader are greater than the stories. It’s also an opportunity to teach the youth about the outdoors and share the beauty with future generations. To Mariano, the classroom is nature, the blackboard is the sky, and homework is making good actions and trying to leave the world better than you found it. The best part of it all is Mariano gets to do it all side by side with his son and his friends.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling watching them grow and learn. The magic of the smile, makes you happy, fulfills your soul.”

The best way to make a change in the world is to start close to home. Help your community in any way you can, big or small. If you can do something good where you live, it keeps you engaged and encourages you to continue.

Our winners have undoubtedly dedicated an incredible amount of their time to worthy causes and their efforts certainly warrant a hearty applause. However, they’re just a part of the larger picture, as they are far from the only team members making a difference. Congratulations to all our AT&T Believes Impact Award winners. Keep doing what you’re doing, because who knows? Next year, it could be you getting the applause and the recognition.

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