When doing good in the world is part of the job
Johnson & Johnson offers a unique program to encourage giving back and advancing healthcare around the globe. Here’s how five employees took advantage of the opportunity to make change.
What if you could take paid time off from your job—whether for an hour, a week or even six months—to help rebuild houses destroyed by a hurricane, create a social media plan for a nonprofit health clinic or mentor teens interested in a career in science?
Employees at Johnson & Johnson not only have this option, but the company’s culture of giving back encourages them to take it. It’s the mission of a unique initiative called . Launched in 2017, Talent for Good is an umbrella strategy that encompasses several specialized company volunteering programs.
Each program within Talent for Good features a wide range of opportunities. One, called Talent for Healthy Communities, pairs employees with select health nonprofits in their local area; participants might spend a few hours virtually each week providing ideas on how to streamline processes or using their marketing skills to help a community organization improve its online presence. Another, the Secondment Program, allows employees to immerse themselves for six months with a partner NGO (non-governmental organization) supporting frontline health workers, for example. Volunteers who choose the WISTEM2D program dedicate their time to helping women and girls find their footing in a STEM field.
It doesn’t matter whether what you do takes an hour or a week. Every second you volunteer can make a difference in someone’s life.
Offering so many different programs under one broad initiative makes it easy for Johnson & Johnson employees to find a volunteer gig that suits their interests and schedule. Indeed, since 2020, a projected 4,890 employees will have given 55,000 hours of their time, skills and effort in service, both in person and virtually, since the initiative began.
“We meet employees where they are, with the overarching purpose of changing the trajectory of health,” says Michael Bzdak, Global Director for Employee Engagement, Johnson & Johnson. “We consider it to be a ‘triple win’ whereby the community-based organization, the employee and Johnson & Johnson all benefit while serving the community around them.”
Ultimately, Talent for Good participants say the joy of joining the program comes from connecting with and helping others. Here are five Johnson & Johnson employees who have taken part. Keep reading to meet them and learn how their commitment to social responsibility is improving health and healthcare access around the world.
Rebuilding houses damaged by a natural disaster
Mafalda Klitsch, Director, Business Management and Metric, Janssen; Pennsylvania
After Hurricane Ida devastated the Gulf states in 2021, Mafalda Klitsch knew she wanted to support disaster-relief efforts in Louisiana. Using the extended volunteer leave program, she worked with the disaster-relief volunteer organization All Hands and Hearts for a week to rebuild homes that had been damaged by the storm.
“We got to work pulling out nails and putting in insulation,” says Klitsch. “When you help out in that kind of situation, it really puts things into perspective and helps you prioritize what’s important in life.”
This wasn’t Klitsch’s first Talent for Good stint. In 2021 she signed on to help streamline the intake process at Trenton Health Team, a community healthcare cooperative that advances health equity in Trenton, New Jersey. And this fall, Klitsch volunteered for a daylong gig helping to set up a carnival for kids who lived at a residential facility.
“It doesn’t matter whether what you do takes an hour or a week,” she says. “Every second you volunteer can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Creating a social media strategy to boost a community health clinic
Kristen Nelson, Change Management Lead, Global Finance, Johnson & Johnson; Massachusetts
When Kristen Nelson joined Johnson & Johnson’s Global Services division in 2021, she was eager to get to know not just the people on her team but colleagues throughout the company. That was one motivation for volunteering to help Medina Community Clinic, a Hamilton Township, NJ–based clinic that offers free healthcare for underserved populations.
“I love getting involved in my local community, but I also hoped the project would enable me to build my network,” says Nelson, who was tapped to lead an effort to help build Medina’s profile. “Medina wanted help in public relations, marketing and communications,” she says. “We also provided suggestions for updating their website and worked on their social media strategy to help expand their stakeholders.”
From the start, Nelson was struck by the diverse skills other Talent for Good volunteers brought to the table. “We were all matched really appropriately to the tasks at hand,” she says. “One person brought web skills, another social media savvy. I did project management as well as help Medina branch out and strengthen their relationships with the community and local stakeholders.”
Nelson also walked away with the wider network she was craving. “I met great people, and it was so rewarding for all of us to use our own set of skills to give Medina tools that will continue to help them grow,” she says.
Assisting NGOs and nonprofits across the globe—and in a war zone
Bacem Georges, Commercial Education Manager, Spine, DePuy Synthes; Massachusetts
When Bacem Georges flew from the U.S. to Beirut on October 1 with 14 other Johnson & Johnson volunteers, he was primed to roll up his sleeves and get to work, in part because he is originally from Lebanon. “The country has gone through dramatic economic distress—especially since the disastrous explosion at the Beirut port in 2020,” says Georges.
Their mission: to help local Red Cross health clinics deliver services to patients more efficiently. “One of our main goals was to help the Red Cross implement a new health information system,” he explains. “The hospitals are overwhelmed, and these clinics are trying to pick up the slack to meet patients’ basic needs. The demand is immense.”
Easing that demand might sound daunting. But Georges has the skill set to take on the challenge. “As someone who trains consultants for Johnson & Johnson, I’m used to identifying problems—digging into their root causes and then looking at the bigger picture to find solutions,” he explains.
During his time in Beirut, the team was able to give the clinics more than 100 recommendations. “We just did a closing presentation this week virtually, and clinic officials were blown away with what we were able to accomplish.”
Making tech improvements to efficiently deliver medicine around the world
Nana-Ama Amaning, Associate Director, Patient Experience Customer Solutions, Janssen; New Jersey
Ask Nana-Ama Amaning what volunteering means to her, and she is likely to quote Mother Teresa: I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. “I really relate to that,” says Amaning. “Whatever capacity you’re in, it’s possible to serve, and the people you are serving can do the same.”
Through Talent for Good, Amaning served the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), a century-old NGO committed to fostering access to healthcare for vulnerable women and children. For nine months in 2022, Amaning and her colleagues refined the way the nonprofit delivered medication and other health necessities in countries like Zambia, El Salvador and Lebanon. The simple tech improvements they made increased efficiency and enlarged CMMB’s impact.
“When we got in there, we found that people were tracking medical supplies on paper, which was limiting the organization’s ability to be successful,” she recalls. “So we introduced some updates, like using Google forms.”
“As a working mother, I know that we are all trying to do the best we can for our families with a limited amount of time,” she reflects. “So the more you can do to strengthen a woman’s circumstances, the bigger the impact you’ll have on the community.”
Strengthening resilience among burned out healthcare workers
Paola Soledad Martinez Chiñas, Manager, Local Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson; Mexico City
When it comes to volunteering at Johnson & Johnson, Paola Soledad Martinez Chiñas plays a dual role. “I do a lot of volunteering myself, but part of my job is identifying colleagues who are good candidates for other volunteer projects with the company, all part of Talent for Good,” she explains.
She doesn’t need to look far to find employees who want to give back. “We have so many people who want to get involved,” says Martinez Chiñas.
As for her own Talent for Good experiences, one assignment in particular had the most emotional impact for her. In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, she was accepted into a virtual program called “Resiliency in COVID Times” with the NGO Doctor Payaso, a nonprofit that helps support sick children and adults in hospitals, as well as the staff tending to them.
The program engaged hospital employees and healthcare workers throughout Latin America, many of them nurses taking care of COVID patients. “The goal was to help stressed and burned out nurses and other healthcare workers develop tools for resilience, well-being and leadership,” she says. “It was powerful to help them discover how to better manage their energy and time and prioritize their own health.”
This year, Martinez Chiñas has been volunteering for APAC, a Mexico-based NGO that provides physical and emotional care and education for people with cerebral palsy and other cognitive and physical disabilities. Projects she’s taken part in include painting and decorating facility walls, plus brainstorming ways to increase production in the group’s bakery, which they run to help raise funds. “We sell their cookies in the Johnson & Johnson cafeteria,” she says.