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New ways I’m accelerating my life’s purpose to give back

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Have you ever asked yourself what your life’s purpose is? For me, it’s using my personal and professional knowledge to help improve the lives of others.

In August 2020, I had the opportunity to work towards that purpose by participating in a virtual edition of the Social Acceleration Marathon, a social impact program supported by Johnson & Johnson, Global Community Impact in partnership with Phomenta, a nonprofit accelerator.

The program pairs nonprofits with corporate partners who can contribute their skills and experiences to build the nonprofit’s capacity to reach their full potential. Over the course of 16 hours of pro-bono consulting spread over six weeks, the teams work together to explore solutions to a particular issue the nonprofit is hoping to solve.

The Social Acceleration Marathon is a part of the Johnson & Johnson Talent for Good strategy. The strategy creates opportunities for employees like me to apply our time, skills and passion to strengthen the well-being and health of our communities. Ultimately, we have the opportunity to apply our hearts and minds to advance our Company purpose of changing the trajectory of health for humanity. In the era of COVID-19, I was delighted to have the chance to participate in such an impactful activity virtually!

This edition of the Social Acceleration Marathon was attended by 78 Johnson & Johnson volunteers who were paired with 12 nonprofits from across Brazil. Collectively, we generated 63 solutions to issues presented by the nonprofits in just six weeks! We estimate this work will impact over 60,000 people, a very exciting result.


My group, consisting of six employees from different parts of Johnson & Johnson was assigned to support GAIA (Support Group for Individuals with Autism) based in São Jose dos Campos, São Paulo. GAIA’s challenge was to increase visibility of the organization online and identify innovative approaches to online fundraising. Over our six weeks together, we immersed ourselves into the complexities of autism with enthusiasm and determination to identify solutions to the challenges we were confronted with.

As a result of our collaboration, we expanded on and brought new structure to GAIA’s existing visibility and fundraising efforts. We identified new ways to attract sponsors and developed more robust ways to approach possible benefactors, all the while growing the visibility of the important role of GAIA in the community. By applying the group’s skills and expertise in planning, leadership, administration, and technical knowledge, we delivered valuable new tools for GAIA to advance its mission in the short and long term.

A wonderful follow up note from our team at GAIA confirmed our impact: “Much gratitude for your commitment, dedication, professionalism, and the precious time each one of you dedicated to this marathon. It was a big challenge. A seed was planted, so it will sprout, I am sure it will bear many fruits.”

My personal and professional transformation

I signed up for the virtual marathon as a way to step outside of my comfort zone and find new ways to challenge myself. What I found was much more than this. I came away humbled and feeling I had gained much more than I gave. I found renewed empathy and appreciation for how nonprofits must constantly reinvent and challenge themselves to catch the attention of donors in an effort to reach their goals of creating healthier communities.


GAIA provides support to autistic individuals and their families to help them reach their full potential

I also came away with a renewed sense of commitment to participate in the positive transformation of the communities we live in. Witnessing the drive of my nonprofit colleagues throughout the marathon, I understood the ripple effect of each person taking action to then inspire others to take action too. One solution opens the door to many others. Whether we work for a nonprofit or a corporation, we all have unique ways we can create new opportunities for others to thrive.

GAIA does not only serve the needs of people with autism, but it also transforms the community by training professionals and teaching parents how to be a better resource for their children. This gives more autonomy to autistic individuals and changes the negative stereotypes that often isolate individuals with autism from their community. I’m delighted our contributions will help bring greater visibility to this much needed work.

This marathon experience taught me that small actions and good will can make a huge difference for the wellbeing of our society, and in particular the health of our communities. While our team received many words of gratitude from GAIA, I am the one most grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a transformative personal and professional experience. I can’t wait to see how GAIA expands its impact with even greater confidence!

About the Johnson & Johnson employee engagement strategy—Talent for Good

The Johnson & Johnson Talent for Good strategy aims to empower the Company’s nearly 140,000 employees from across the globe to grow personally and professionally by applying their time, their skills and their resources to build healthier communities around the world. We are not looking at a specific employee target audience (or pay grade), but aspire and strive to activate all employees within the Company, no matter what level and/or stage they are in their career. From donating to causes dear to them to fully immersive assignments with NGO organizations, we offer opportunities for all employees to play a part in creating positive and meaningful change by sharing and enhancing their skills while pursuing their passions.

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