In this MediPreneurs profile, PharmPsych.com decided to feature Amy Claflin Zagroba, Blood Program Consultant at Heartland Blood Centers in Chicago, a chapter of the American Blood Centers and blood donation services, and an professional trainer and coach.
Zagroba is a sales and marketing expert with a background in nonprofit fundraising and business revenue generation. Aside from being a saleswoman/marketing consultant, she has been billed by her peers as a “passionate connector skilled” in engaging donors and volunteers to take part in nonprofit causes.
Her experience includes: budgeting, business development, coaching, customer retention, customer service, e-mail marketing campaigns, employee relations, event planning, fundraising, hiring, leadership, long-range planning, management, marketing, motivational speaking, negotiations, networking, nonprofits, online sales training, operations management, process improvement, program development, project planning, public relations, public speaking, recruiting, sales, sales training, seminars, social media strategy, social networking, staffing, strategic alliances, talent management, team building, training, volunteer recruiting and web-based sales training.
Zagroba has worked with the centers since November 2013 and has served as marketing representative, a position that has been since renamed blood program consultant.
Prior to this, she worked as client liaison for Insperity, a business management consulting and human resources company headquartered in Houston, from May 2012 and February 2013.
To foster customer retention and growth at the company, Zagroba coordinated interactions between external and internal customers, supervised the development, monitoring, completion and delivery of service strategy plans for their client base, ease account review meetings with team members, educate clients, develop partnerships and ask for referrals.
Before that, from February 2008 to July 2012, she was operations director of Connect Work Chicago, formerly known as Out of Work Chicago, an entity in Chicago that enables individuals to cultivate relationships with others to ultimately find employment and build careers in the face of a struggling economy.
Zagroba also served as Chicago regional sales director for Sparque, a Chicago sales training and development company; search consultant for CompHealth, a medical staffing company with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Norwalk and Salt Lake City; inside sales representative with Aetna; and patient counselor with the Bariatric Treatment Centers of America. Her first sales job started in 1997 with Milgard Windows & Doors, a windows and doors manufacturer in Salt Lake City.
She obtained an associates degree at Rockford Business College in 1993 and studied at Carthage College and Rockford Lutheran in Illinois between 1985 and 1990.
Her interests include baking, catering, cooking, crochet, global sales expert Chris Lytle, health, JuicePlus, nutrition, reading and sudoko.
The following exchange occurred by phone Sept. 9.
1. I see that, among the many social causes, that you have supported over the years in your career, you are are the marketing representative of the Heartland Blood Centers as November 2013. You worked for the same nonprofit entity as Blood Program Consultant. Tell me about the two capacities.
They changed the [job title]. It is now blood program consultant. It gives a clearer idea of what we do. The wording, “market representative,” does not. it was too vague of a description to truly encompass all of what we do.
We help people hold mobile blood drives in their communities, at their businesses, schools, synagogues and churches. We also often conduct drives at local fire and police departments. We work with the community outreach programs to give back to these local communities.
a. How did your work as Client Liaison for Insperity, board member of Suzuki Orff School of Music, operations director of Connect Work Chicago, Chicago regional sales director of Sparque and Search Consultant at CompHealth influence your work with the Heartland Blood Centers?
All of them incorporate different aspects of sales and marketing. In all of these jobs, I performed sales and marketing. But much of what I did involved building relationships. Heartland Blood Centers is always recruiting volunteers to run the blood drives and to donate to support their community and local hospitals. This involves me doing everything I can to build trust and support in our local communities and build relationships with coordinators, donors, volunteers, and community members.
2. You live in the state of Illinois and each state has its own laws, policies and set of circumstances concerning blood donations. What is the situation in the state of Illinois? Do you only provide blood and blood products or do you also provide relevant medical devices as well and other services? If so, what?
What is keeping people from donating blood? Is it still the same fears that kept people before?
I noticed that your site offers scholarships to those aged 17 to 21 to donate blood. Is it to entice more young people to donate? What is the story with them? What other projects have you embarked on to entice people to donate? What does the Centers say to them?
We are regulated by the FDA. The FDA does inspections of the nation’s blood centers.
The top reasons that people may not consent to donate blood is because of their fear of needles and no one has asked them.
We don’t know about their religious convictions but we are respectful of that.
I never have met someone who did not donate blood because they were concerned about their health or they may have a health condition that prevents them from donating but I personally have never encountered someone that feared donating would be negative to their health. The two most common reasons I encounter are fear of needles and never being asked/no knowledge about it.
I get involved in education — what you can expect, how much to donate and where it goes. We at Heartland Blood Centers work hard to make sure that our donors have all of the information they need. We are happy to provide any information someone needs to make them comfortable with donating. We want to educate and motivate.
We do a scholarship program that has been successful. So many young people need help to pay for college and if we can do something to help with that we will. We want people to make the commitment to blood donation as a young age.
We are a non-profit so we don’t have incentives to donate. Occasionally we have special events to memorialize an event or holiday and are able to reward a donor in some way. However, we believe that most people understand that in their veins flows a wealth that can never be measured. When they know that spending an hour of their time could potentially save three lives or give someone another month, week or day with their loved one, they generously give.
The month of September is Childrens Cancer Awareness Month. January is National Blood Donation Month.
3. Which demographics, communities, types of hospitals and attendant medical centers in the state of Illinois, the Midwest and the entire country are in most need of blood donations? Why and how? Are they receiving enough donations? Why and how? Do some medical specialties of hospitals and medical centers need more blood and blood products than others? If so, why and how?
Our slow times tend to run in coincidence with the school calendar. When schools and colleges are out (summer and over the holidays) are when we see a drop in donations. However, the patient demand for blood stays consistent throughout the year. We need more organizations to hold and encourage blood donation over the holidays and in the summer months.
4. With the natural disasters that we here in Chicago, the Midwest and the other parts of the country have endured, do you find demand for blood donations from the Centers zooming upward? For example, in the spring and summer of 2014, we have had floods and violent thunderstorms here in Chicago and the outlying northern, western and southern suburbs. We have had devastating rainstorms, flash floods and tornadoes in parts of the state of Illinois and other states in the Midwest. We have had the same on the East Coast — especially hurricanes or tropical storms — and the Deep South. We have had rainstorms, flash floods, earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes, near-hurricanes, forest fires and drought in the Southwest, especially Arizona, Colorado and some part of Texas, and the West Coast, including California, Washington state and Oregon. And let’s not forget the “Snow-meggedon” of blizzards, snow storms and violent arctic winds in the East Coast, Midwest and the Deep South this past winter. Additionally, the increased street violence in our urban centers stemming from a struggling national economy that does not yield enough jobs or other opportunities for youth may fuel demand for blood. Is this fair to say?
a. If the disasters and urban violence have affected the Centers, could you specify how? Which types of medical conditions and physical injuries specifically have triggered the demand for blood products? Has blood donations increased? Has demand for blood and other blood products increased? Are they mostly in the greater Chicagoland area, the Midwest and other parts of the country? If so, which, how and why? Where else in the Midwest and the country specifically have you had to serve those in need of blood, how much and why?
I can’t speak to our relationship with the military but we are ready to assist other parts of the country during blood shortages, national emergencies and the armed services. We currently serve 57 hospitals in a 12-county area in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
5. Were you especially inspired you to serve the Heartland Blood Centers with your marketing and business administrative talents? Were you inspired by a member of a family or friends? If so, how and why? Did you feel compelled to make a difference in increasing the number of blood, blood products, high quality, medical devices and other services?
I’ve actually been a regular blood donor since age 19. It was already something I believed in and saw as important. I was thrilled to know I might have helped save someone’s life. I’m moved daily — I really am — of how impactful that anonymous donation can be. Cancer patients, trauma patients, accident victims, organ transplants — I love what I do and knowing that it could be the difference between life or death for someone.
NOTE: (PharmPsych.com offers up MediPreneurs, a news series featuring medical professionals and allied health employees of all specialties, especially the field of pharmacy. MediPreneurs are leaders and managers in a variety of medical fields who often use their talents to start their private practices or businesses or challenge themselves to transform and improve community health as board members, group founders, mentors or college professors. Our MediPreneurs series seeks to draw on and explore the expertise and experience of these medical heroes and put them in the public spotlight, one professional at a time.)
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Last updated September 2014
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