Dan Mead, chief operating officer of Verizon Wireless, was among the people who were instrumental in bringing the PBS documentary, "Telling Amy's Story," to a national audience. The documentary, which will begin airing on local PBS stations in June, examines the domestic violence homicide of Verizon Wireless employee Amy Homan McGee in State College, Pa. In a recent interview, Mead - a longtime advocate of awareness and prevention of domestic violence - talked about the issue and its importance to Verizon.
Q&A with Dan Mead on "Telling Amy's Story"
Q: Are you pleased with how the documentary turned out?
A: I've seen the documentary and the training video many times, and it is moving and very inspiring. It's a great call to action for us as employees - and as a corporation with regard to responding to an issue of such importance to customers and our communities. I believe it will have the intended impact on this social issue, which is to make people aware and to take action.
Q: What do you see as the message of "Telling Amy's Story"?
A: As tragic as the underlying situation is with Amy's story, there's a message of encouragement and hope. When we see a social crisis, if we address it head on, bring it to the light of day, educate people as to what to do, then this is a crisis we can greatly improve. It takes everyone working together. For Verizon, the capabilities we have in our technologies give us a unique opportunity to bring a resolution to this issue.
Q: What do you say to those who ask why Verizon chose to champion an issue that is so uncomfortable for most people?
A: We get asked that a lot. We have been deeply involved with this issue - with awareness and prevention - for nearly 15 years. We were one of the first, if not the first to step up and address it, and we did it for several reasons.
One, it was such an uncomfortable topic others didn't want to touch it. But we believed it was important because nearly 30 percent of women in America are affected by domestic violence. In the face of that, we couldn't sit back. So we've been very proactive, with programs such as HopeLine, the Domestic Violence Summit we have each year, and working with our employees. You know, when Amy first came to us for help because of her situation, we moved her to a different store. We did that as a responsible employer, working to help one of our employees.
Two, as I said earlier, our technology enables us to make a difference by providing communication anywhere, anytime so people can react to a situation, get help or seek advice. So to your question, it was not a difficult decision. We had the opportunity to get involved, and we've stepped forward. We've built on that and will continue to build on it. Ultimately, it's our responsibility as good corporate citizens.
Q: You were among a number of people who were involved from the start with what eventually became the documentary. How did that happen?
A: I'm a graduate of Penn State. I was visiting the university in 2006 on business, but was also there to explore what we might be able to do together in the area of domestic violence awareness and prevention. I met a woman from the university's women's studies group, and she and others had developed a concept for training and prevention that included the timeline of Amy's story. They had no funding so I went back to the Verizon Foundation and suggested that this was something we could help with. They reviewed the proposal and agreed, so a funding grant was created for Penn State and PBS to develop the training program for university employees and agencies where the university has campuses throughout Pennsylvania. The program was so successful that the company was approached by PBS to make it a national documentary.
Q: What would you like Verizon employees to do beyond watching the documentary when it airs on PBS?
A: First, I'd like our employees to help customers and their families to have a greater awareness about the issue. It's an issue that touches everyone's lives. We have more than 200,000 employees, so, together, we can have a great influence. Second, I think they should have pride in Verizon in how we're addressing this issue and how we're integrating our products to make a difference. We're taking a leadership role, and our funding and support of Amy's story is a great example of how we as Verizon can have a great impact.
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