The World Through Dad's Eyes - United Hub
people

The world through dad's eyes

By Matt Adams, June 16, 2017

Seventy-eight years ago, Denver Flight Attendant Lynn Schoenemann's father, Wolfgang "Bill" Schoenemann, embarked on his first overseas voyage against a terrifying and tragic backdrop.

Six-year-old Bill left Hamburg, Germany, with his mother and father in May of 1939 alongside more than 900 other German Jews aboard the S.S. St. Louis. Like all of those on board, the Schoenemanns gave up everything dear to them – their homes, their livelihoods, connection to family – in order to escape the violent anti-Semitism that was taking root in Nazi Germany.

Ostensibly, the St. Louis was to transport its passengers to Havana, where they were to receive asylum. Unbeknownst to them as they steamed westward across the Atlantic, they would never set foot on Cuban soil; instead, the group was turned away at Havana's harbor, victims of a Nazi propaganda ploy. The fortunate ones, Bill and his parents included, found refuge in the United Kingdom. Many others, approximately 600 of the passengers, ended up back in Germany or in the Nazi-controlled areas of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where a much darker fate awaited.

"As Father's Day approaches, I often consider how lucky I am to have ever been conceived," Lynn said. "My father is one of a diminishing group of Holocaust survivors. No other Schoenemann family member survived as far as we know."

United employee, Lynn and her dad in Alaska.

Bill immigrated to the U.S. as a young man, where he became a successful engineer in California's Silicon Valley. It wasn't until after retirement that he discovered a passion for travel – a hobby that immediately attracted Lynn.

"Watching slideshows from his trips planted a seed in me that grew into a love of travel, spawning a 23-year flying career at United," she said. "When I was interviewing for this job, I thought about all of the places he had seen and knew that I wanted to have that same opportunity, while also indulging my passion for the hospitality industry."

In speaking with Bill, it's easy to find yourself bitten by the travel bug, too. "One of the goals I set for myself was to get to over 100 countries," Bill said, "and my wife and I turned out to be really great adventurers. We loved Africa the most, seeing the animals out in nature. To have a giraffe lean over you or a rhino charge past you with her baby, or to watch a lion sprint by, those are incredible experiences."

Though his five children were young and unable to accompany him on many of his journeys, he tried to pass on those experiences to them through the vivid photographs that he took. "I wanted to share that excitement with them," he recalled. "Seeing the world expands your horizons, but it also lets you appreciate what you have here in the U.S. You look at other people in a different light; it helps you understand them better."

United employee with her family at Mount Rushmore.

And, finally, almost eight decades after his first trip over the Atlantic, Bill got the chance to walk the streets of Havana when he visited Cuba last year.

"My father set the bar high for rising above life's challenges and succeeding," said Lynn. "On Father's Day, I will make sure I tell him how much I appreciate him showing me the world through his eyes from an early age. I owe this wondrous career to him. I love you, Dad, on Father's Day and every other day."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

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.

Scroll to top