United Summer Associates' Dreams Take Flight - United Hub
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Watch now: United Summer Associates' dreams take flight

By The Hub team, July 31, 2017

Ever since she was a young girl, aviation science major Tahchiona Smith says she dreamed of flying. Her grandmother would drive her to the viewing area at Lea County Regional Airport in New Mexico where they would lie in the bed of their pickup truck and watch planes take off and land. "It was just so beautiful," Tahchiona says, "I love the whistle sound of the jet engine. I remember thinking this equipment is so powerful. You can get anywhere in the world in 24 hours. That was just amazing to me."

For the past eight weeks, Tahchiona and 89 other college students had the opportunity to explore the aviation industry on a deeper level through the United Summer Associates (USA) program. Launched 11 years ago at Newark Liberty International Airport, the paid internship program expanded this year to include San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, giving more students from these communities first-hand experience in our day-to-day operation. With this year's program coming to an end, the USA students shared some of the invaluable lessons they learned over the past two months.

"Working with the customers made me realize that it's important to be able to step out of my shoes and step in somebody else's," said Houston's summer associate Broderick Braziel, who is pursuing a degree in business and IT management. "Getting to talk with people from all parts of the world helped me understand that a lot of our issues are pretty small compared to other issues in this world."

Summer Associates at Newark Liberty International Airport

For Newark's Daneja Jefferson, the connections she's made during the program have made a lasting impact. "I've learned to try to build relationships with employees no matter what," she said. "You may never know who you may meet and who may help you in the end."

This also holds true for Los Angeles' Autumn Macklin, who has found a shining example in Airport Operations Supervisor Charlie Giggers. "Charlie has been a great leader. He's so enthusiastic and very happy to teach us about all the parts of the airport process."

Seeing all that is involved in getting our customers to their destination safely and on time has been an eye-opener for San Francisco's Lovina Akauola, who is interested in business administration. "I've always been involved on sports teams," she said. "Being able to make sure that everyone is playing their part and getting a plane out on time is just like that. It's one group of people working together."

For San Francisco's Joseph John Gomez, an Air Traffic Management major, a highlight of this experience was hearing from United's CEO, Oscar Munoz, on his first day. "What I learned from Oscar is to figure out really what your purpose is, and, once you find that purpose, that is what will really be the driver for you."

Group of Summer Associates at Houston George Bush International Airport

While not every student plans to stay in the aviation industry, Houston's Tachiona Smith certainly has jet fuel in her veins. She's determined to become a pilot at United, and her time in the program cemented that dream. At Houston Intercontinental Airport, she met several pilots and has taken their advice to heart.

"Everybody told me to hang in there and it's going to be hard," she said. "Stay on top of scholarships and meet people. Once you get there, it will be worth it."

Whether these students choose to stick to the aviation industry or pursue a different passion, one thing is clear – the future is bright for our 2017 United Summer Associates.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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