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#38: Christine McConnell, BCSP Foundation Officer, at NSC 2019

September 13, 2019 | 28 minutes 23 seconds

Jill and Christine take some to talk about BCSP Foundation and three main initiatives they’re working on at the Foundation.

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro live at the 2019 national safety Congress and expo in beautiful San Diego. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer. And with me today, I am joined by Christine McConnell, who is the philanthropy officer for the BCSP foundation. Or better otherwise known as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Christine, welcome to the podcast.

Christine:

Thanks for having me Jill.

Jill:

Really appreciate this. So the foundation, tell us for anyone who does... You know, a lot of people are familiar with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the designations may be that they've gotten through them testing they helped with. But maybe people aren't familiar with the fact that you have a foundation.

Christine:

Well, it's because we're new.

Jill:

Really?

Christine:

I know, it's so brand new, Jill. It's an exciting time. So for those of you who are familiar with BCSP, you know, we've been around for 50 amazing years contributing to the field and over the evolution of those five decades, they've done a lot to invest back into the profession. And the board has really been committed to that, but they took a next step the last decade to really make that manifest by supporting other organizations, foundations, they do a fair amount of giving through the ASP foundation to support students in other projects and research.

And then they've also decided to do a lot of that on their own, supporting universities through their accreditation and reaccreditation programs, and then supporting students on their journey. So they were providing students scholarships. And then about five years ago they decided, well, maybe we need to formalize our giving process. How do we do more in this space to support the profession? What does that look like?

And then two years ago, they voted as a board to really take that next big leap. And they made a significant financial investment to get the foundation off the ground. And they've committed tremendous resources to it themselves. And then they're personally invested. And so it's now formally its own 501C3. And we're in that really interesting charitable space. And we have our own strategic plan and we have our own group of donors, both individual and corporate. And it's really unique.

But it's a direct reflection of BCSP his commitment to advancing the field. And it's kind of the softer side. So Jill, we get to do really interesting things like, like you're aware of it. We kind of get to step outside of just the credentialing and we've expanded beyond just professional advancement. But how can we support the field in other ways through research. Or how can we do other, like take on big scope projects that would be otherwise limited by the business model for just BCSP, which is credentialing. Which is huge on its own.

So we get to be that kind of like stretch side of safety and go really exciting spaces.

Jill:

So what are some of the accomplishments of the foundation to date? Can you give us some ideas?

Christine:

Well so the big... No, I think it's Fun. So because we've just filed our first 990. So in January...

Jill:

What's a 990?

Christine:

It's our tax exempt status. It's our IRS form. It's seriously in the life of starting a giant, like a philanthropy. Like it's a-

Jill:

It's a big deal.

Christine:

So, no. So we actually were formally incorporated a year ago. and in that one year space we held our first research and innovation summit. It was amazing. It was amazing. And the reason that we can do things like that is because we sit so firmly on the foundation of BCPS's commitment to the community and then we can pull on those resources, both staff and credential holders.

And that allows us to really like go big right away. But we held our first research and innovation summit and that's one of the primary programs for the foundation. But we brought together a hundred individuals to Indianapolis and we had two full days. And during that time we conducted research round tables too. Which is really the larger framework of having this conversation about what do we not know in safety. And How do we get there.

And that will drive the foundation's giving in research and innovation grants for the next two years and then we'll bring those people back together and present again. But it was unbelievable accomplishment. So we're very excited about that. And then we have other projects that we're working on, but that's like... Like in a year that's a really big deal.

Jill:

A big accomplishment.

Christine:

To have to have our first summit and it was meaningful. So it was great.

Jill:

Some good things came of it. So research and innovation is one of the focuses of the foundation. Are there two other primary focuses, is that how it works?

Christine:

We do. So we have the three. So we are maintaining that continued investment in faculty and in the school programs. So have that tradition of giving. That started with the initial idea for the foundation. We're maintaining that through our professional advancement opportunities. We're also supporting people through research and innovation, which is new. So we'll be doing a master's... So thesis and dissertation level investments. And then we'll do three at the master's and two at the doctoral level every year. And you can apply for all of those right through our website. So we have the online application process. It's a really great program. Student applications for student scholarships are in the same space.

Yeah. So let's just pause for just a second for people who are listening who are like, wait a minute, what? I'm a student right now. Let's rewind. What did Christine just say is available for me?

Jill:

$5,000.

Christine:

Okay.

Jill:

So we're rewarding one $5,000 scholarship to every qualified academic program. A student from every QAP that BCSP has listed. And the good news is if you go to the website, all the criteria is right there, Jill. So you can read about deadlines, yes, we have deadlines, for submission and an all of the application requirements. And it's all right there and available to you. And the same thing is true for the research funding and the information. So we do have some fun space in the research where we'll do one like proof of concept early seed funding. And it's a small amount. It's a modest amount, it's about $25,000. We'll do one of those per year.

But it's enough to get people started on developing the concept and then we'll do some collaborative giving through the foundation with other organizations that we partnered with. So that's nice. But the innovation stuff, Jill.

Christine:

So exciting.

Jill:

This is crazy, cool. Okay, so this is for everyone who developed a solution in the garage. Like you were some place and you and your buddy like needed to fix something and you looked around at all your coworkers and like, "Well, if we just had X piece." And you went and made it in your garage out of like whatever, Legos, I don't care. But it fixed the issue. And you were like, maybe you don't have the skillset or maybe you don't know how to bring that forward and to do all the necessary paperwork for trademarking and protections.

Christine:

And it's something that has to do with safety, both workplace or community. Is that it?

Jill:

Yeah, it doesn't have to be tangible, it can be a procedure. It can be anything that really steps into that safety space, but has the potential to impact lots of... And benefit others. So we're here to help you do that. Right? So safety professionals who are listening, who have done something in their, maybe, workplace or maybe in their, in type of industry, maybe an industry group, maybe you belong to a group for safety for just your type of industry. Like one of our previous guests was talking about an electrical federation group. They were part of, or I've mentioned I was part of the US Poultry and Egg Association before. Another professional friend who's part of a zoo and aquarium industry. Maybe as an industry group who came together and came up with a process, procedure, a thing that you could go to the foundation for help to make it real or live or within your own company.

Christine:

Right, right. So it's really exciting. So it's two rounds of funding, right? So the first one is only $10,000 and it's sort of to like only...

Jill:

It sounds like a lot.

Christine:

Well $10,000 to move it forward, right. But then we'll give you all the professional services to wrap around. So that $10,000 is really to build the mold or to like do some more testing or whatever it is. And then... We'll do two of those a year. And then after that, what will happen is you can come to us and you'll sit through a panel and you could qualify for $50,000 and then the next level, and we'll hopefully help you match you with the marketplace window. That's kind of like we are working really hard at the BCSP Foundation to make sure that we're stepping into spaces that others haven't gone.

Right. Sometimes the work is like too big or it's too hard, or sometimes it's just like, I don't know, is there value in it? And so let's not duplicate, right? We're going to do the student scholarships because we believe in it and it's the right thing to do and we're going to continue our support of other organizations through their scholarship programs. But I don't look at that as our primary driver. And that is something we just maintain and we will perpetuate. But the opportunities in these research and in innovation areas and in youth safety and so doing those sorts of things, it's making sure that we're creating a lot more opportunity in a lot of different ways.

Jill:

Wonderful. Those are some really great and exciting pieces of news.

Christine:

I know, they're fun.

Jill:

Yeah. For safety professionals to hear, especially innovators out there who are like, "This could be better this way, this could be different."

Christine:

And you know, you know how to make it better, right? Where you already have, but you're like... Maybe you don't think that what you fixed for yourself and you know your other coworkers, where else it could go. And so let's help you take it there.

Jill:

Wonderful. And then you mentioned just a second ago, that third initiative, youth safety. So talk a little bit about that.

Christine:

So youth safety is really the driving force behind Dr. Turnbeaugh. For those of you who don't know Dr. Theresa Turnbeaugh, she's the CEO of BCSP, but she's also a mom, right? So she raised three kids and she's familiar with what it looks like for teens to enter the workplace.

Jill:

Kind of just scary.

Christine:

It is scary. And I think one of her quiet goals in sort of bringing the foundation to fruition was what are we going to do about this? And there are a lot of organizations that are involved in some way in youth safety. Including a fabulous partner of ours, NIOSH, who has what's called Talking Safety, which is a great program. I think that there are limitations to what we've sort of seen. And grateful to everyone who's willing to be in that space. But the recognition that to have a really big impact is a really expensive deal. It requires a huge lift from a fundraising standpoint, and if you're NIOSH you don't fundraise. Right? Like you're already invested in the public good.

And if we're going to do this really, really well, it has to be free. It has to be free, it has to be accessible. And there are some programs out there, not in the domestic market, but there are some programs internationally that really have made a difference in youth safety in diminishing numbers of incidents. But also in buy in from the corporate community because I think that's really important, right?

Like we need to be in the school systems, we need to have good partners in the trades and the crafts. We need to have really strong relationships. And so I think the prohibitive factor has been money. It's expensive. It's also really time consuming. And in order to develop a curriculum, it requires a huge pool of SMEs. The good news for me is, once again, I can lean on BCSP. We develop credentials, it's what we do of the highest standard.

And so I have this immediate like pool of resources on the backside.

Jill:

Of subject matter experts.

Christine:

Yeah, I do. And they're available and anxious. Right, let's do this, let's fix it. And so, and we have partners who can provide us with the platform, are interested in that space of making it accessible to everyone. We have tremendous amount of corporate interest. And so now we're here and everyone's been anxious. But if you're interested, if it rings a bell with you, I would like to see every mayor in every city who has a program for hiring youth in the summer. Before we throw a yellow vest on them. Let's make sure they've done this. Let's make sure they've fulfilled and gotten their digital badge. So they'll have their own unique digital badge. They'll be able to present that to employers. Employers will have a database that they can search. And let's have some pride in this and let's...

Jill:

So would it be accurate to say, kind of the big idea behind youth safety is preparing our next generation of workforce. And so that not only as they get those team jobs that we want our kids to have jobs and work experience that their employers aren't thinking, "Oh, they're just a kid. We don't need to train or educate them to the same level we would our other employees because it's temporary in nature or they're young or there's other employment laws that, you know we don't have to comply with or we need to remember about working hours or whatever." But it's providing that foundational piece to keep those young workers safe in their youth jobs. But also a foundation to build on when they enter the workforce. Is that the big idea?

Christine:

I think that it's to increase awareness. We want to educate them about what their role is in the workplace. It's also about personal responsibility to their coworkers. so we'd like them to be in a position to have enough information to be educated so that they can advocate for themselves and their coworkers. So that they can reasonably spot risk. And be responsible enough to report risk. Because they have this awareness and knowledge that they didn't otherwise have. It's also really interesting. That's the conversation with the trades. We would really like these kids to go through this process so that when before they enter a journeyman program or an apprenticeship program, they have an already have a commitment to safety.

So that this isn't something that they had to be taught later on. They have this sense of self and responsibility to other. Because safety's invisible Jill. I'm not a safety professional. It's in everything in everything. It's in everything.

Jill:

It is in everything.

Christine:

And kids don't know that. It's okay. Unless they're growing up in a household where their parent is a safety professional, they don't...

Jill:

Yeah. And the idea is if this youth safety initiative, when it has legs, which will be soon, that there's access. So there aren't barriers to access to the information, to the education, to the awareness.

Christine:

Free. It's free. It has to be entirely free. And then it's a big lift. So we need a 50 state solution. We need a massive rollout plan. Fortunately, we have pieces in place for that. We already have this structure around the curriculum. So it's finishing the delivery mechanisms and there are a lot of moving parts. But we want it in every high school. I want it in every employer for onboarding so that every kid that walks through... And maybe it's a natural fit for onboarding.

And if I end up reaching the 45 year old who's got a midlife change...

Jill:

Who's never had...

Christine:

Who had safety... Good for us. It's the same base of information that everyone should have access to. So let's put it in that space.

Jill:

That's a lot of work for the foundation and it's fabulous, important work. So question, where does the funding come from? How does that piece work?

Christine:

Well, it's tricky, right?

Jill:

As the philanthropy officer this is your focus, right?

Christine:

I know. So the philanthropy officer's a fun role because we get to give away money, but we also get to ask for money.

So I get the dual opportunity. Fortunately, we have some fabulous support from BCSP proper, right? Like they didn't just to say, "Hey, let's have a foundation, but we're not going to give you any support or resources." So they're fabulous that way and they're super committed. But it's from individuals. We have major donors who've looked at us and said, "We've done, you know, scholarships at other places or we've done scholarships with the other... We're interested in supporting you in scholarships, but we're really... Let's do these programs. Like we haven't had this place before. So yeah, let's do that." And we have companies that are in that same space that they, that safety may not be entirely with a do, but they want a robust safety culture. They believe in a robust safety culture.

So they may come from in a different industry, but they get this as a part of their commitment to community. And a commitment to their workers that investing in this means that their kids will grow up safe. It also is self interested. They would like to attract people into their company structure who have some sense of safety already. It supports their culture longterm and they feel like if they do this now...

Jill:

Growing the workforce for tomorrow.

Christine:

Exactly right. And growing an educated workforce for tomorrow who already... Who doesn't think of safety as a burden or rules or regulation, but it's a part of their core being and it's a value for them personally.

Jill:

And they have a language for it when they get to work.

Christine:

Right. It makes it easier on that employer and it makes it easier for them as well. So it's both. It's individual support and corporate support. And then fortunately we also have some project support from other foundations. So it's interesting you could have that inter foundation relationship. So we're working with other foundations and endowments who are in education and workforce development and youth safety space or would like to be there in young person health, youth health. And they see this as a direct reflection, both from a workforce development and from healthy communities and access.

Jill:

Right, right. So how long have you been with the foundation...

Christine:

Two years.

Jill:

Two years?

Christine:

Two years in October. So they hired me to start the foundation. She had a very specific vision of what she wanted to accomplish and so did the board. And so I've been there since the very beginning.

Jill:

And you're not a safety professional because that wouldn't necessarily be the fit for a philanthropy officer. You're getting dangerously knowledgeable or as the pun intends accidentally.

You're accidentally becoming a safety professional.

Christine:

I am. I am. I think. So asking for money is a tricky thing. And for me it has to be values-based. You have to really believe in why you're asking people to join you on this important journey of commitment of resources, whether it's time from volunteering or financial resources. And safety makes sense to me. I came the foundation from a capital campaign work, building buildings. You know, it's real obvious. Bricks and mortar, we need it. Most of my work was done in rural health care. So if you're out in the middle of the Dakotas or if you're out Northern California, other places that where if an accident happens, you are two hours away from a medical facility. That's a problem.

Jill:

You were talking about access.

Christine:

I am. And also recognizing that those healthcare institutions are also maybe the largest employer in a region. And that's not a big employer, but if the hospital should go away, then it radiates out to the town too. And so it's high need. So safety seems to resonate to me that way as well. And I kind of started to think about it. And I am sure that this is probably very not safety, but I think of it as the invisible web that holds and binds us together.

Jill:

It's 100% safety.

Christine:

Okay.

Jill:

Yes. Keep going with that.

Christine:

I don't know if that's a common phrase. I don't know...

Jill:

If it's not you made it up, but I'm understanding what you're saying. It is a tie that binds us together.

Christine:

It does. It's everything. It's in how we grow our food and how we deliver our food to the grocery. It's in how healthcare is delivered. It's in our it systems. It's in our roadways. I mean, it's in all the things that make it possible for us to get everything done every day. Safety is the built in component. But no one sees it. So sometimes it's not part of the conversation, the bigger society conversation. Like what's the value of our existence? Well, it's built on safety.

Jill:

Beautifully put. It is invisible until something goes wrong.

Christine:

Until... And that's what I always say. And that's the only time we see it. It's the only time we have the bigger public conversation about the safety. And so that's why it's the invisible thread but it holds and binds us together as communities and as small communities and families and as large communities and neighborhoods. And so it really struck a chord with me because it's an area of high need. And I think that safety should be... Safety is a human right. And I don't think that you can have a really good conversation about the value of a brand, the value of a corporate reputation, or the value of any of those things without including the human factor. So, it's fun. So that's why... So there's value to me.

And so when I'm asking someone to come along on that journey with us, when I'm asking a company to come along, it's a little aspirational, right? Let's be our best selves. And let's do this together. So that's kind of it for me.

Jill:

That's beautiful. Beautiful. What great work.

Christine:

It's great work. It's gets me excited every single day. It's a really cool environment. It's an amazing opportunity. Yeah, the summit was our first thing, right. And it was only a hundred people, but that's what we wanted. We wanted a hundred people to really connect with each other. Maybe it gets to 150 in two years. They did so much so that we're going to Toronto for the World Congress. So I, yeah...

Jill:

Congratulations.

Christine:

We thought in two years to plan this, it'll be super, no. We're going to go to the World Congress and we're going to hold a two day summit with the same sort of like conversations and experiences before that and during that time. And the intent is to get more of a global perspective and then be able to bring some of those individuals and bring that community back to the 2021. But I don't think I anticipated that much, like... This is amazing. And it was great. So yeah, we're off and running again.

Jill:

It's fantastic. So as we wrap up our time today, I'm thinking about... You've dropped so many great ideas for people. So first if someone listening is like, "Hey, you know, maybe my company would be interested in helping the foundation." Where should they go?

Christine:

They can go right to our website, BCSPfoundation.org. And there's a contact us button. But there's also phone numbers there. If they're already a credential holder you can just call into BCSP and someone will put you directly through to me. But I would start with the BCSPfoundation.org and you can see more about our programs. And Jill, we do have programs that specifically support corporate culture. So if you're really interested in supporting your safety culture and you want to find pathways to do that, we can help you with that as well.

Jill:

Great resource. And so if people want to, are interested in applying for the scholarship for school, for themselves, for their own development, they can do that through the website as well. Find the information there.

Christine:

They can.

Jill:

Right. And then the other was about the research and innovation grants to apply for and you can do that through your website too?

Christine:

You can, and then we also have a summit page and so they're... I'm going to tell you they're currently redoing that summit page right now. So it's great. It will have all of the findings from the last summit and then we'll have preview for the future summits there. So all of that basic information is right there on the website and we're happy to have people access it and run through the contact page or just give us a call.

Jill:

Sure. And if someone is inspired by what they heard about the youth safety initiative that you're starting to work on, can they just send you an email or pick up the phone and call and say, "Hey, I want to be part of the conversation."

Christine:

Absolutely, yeah, please include me in this process I'm ready to to be... If you're a subject matter expert, I'm happy to share the information with you on how you can put your oar and will really help us row.

Jill:

Yeah. Wonderful. That's fabulous. Christine, thank you so much for your time. You are an accidental safety professional.

Christine:

I'm excited now.

Jill:

You've got it down. Thank you for the work that you're doing. Thank you for the work that the BCSP is doing. Really appreciate it.

Christine:

Thanks for the time, Jill.

Jill:

Yeah, and thank you all for spending your time listening today and more importantly, thank you for your contribution, making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe everyday.

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