By Kimble Snyder, Director, Panorama
My father was born during the depression to tenant farmers.
The lifestyle meant early mornings and late nights, hard work and questionable income. As he came into adulthood, he took the road less traveled, putting himself through college to become an actor. To describe my father as a man of tenacity might be an understatement – he took himself from a one-room schoolhouse to a master’s degree, and from a wardrobe made of old grain sacks to one created by costume designers.
The similarities between his life on the farm and that on the stage may not be completely obvious, but each present a unique set of challenges not too far removed from the realities of the independent workforce we see growing today. The work is hard and inconsistent, it leaves the worker without protections or security, and there is no telling what the next move will be.
By the time I was born my father was 50 and had managed to find a cadence in these ebbs and flows. It was from him that I learned about what it meant to have a work ethic. He taught me to find solutions for anything that didn’t work, the meaning of “an honest day’s work,” and how to make the most of what was in front of me. Without knowing it, that laid the foundation for a future where I would work to align business and worker priorities.
A series of seemingly disconnected moments led me to a position with the Obama administration, and a period in my life that I will always hold in the highest regard. Part of my time there was served at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), where my fellow colleagues worked tirelessly to ensure that people, like my father, have the protections and supports necessary to be successful. Throughout my tenure at DOL, I frequently joined forces with businesses to advance worker needs, overcoming the prevalent narrative that what is good for workers is bad for business.
In that role, I came to understand the value of uniting unlikely allies and had many opportunities to create moments where seemingly conflicting perspectives were able to share common ground. The experience forever shaped my own views, and I vowed to continue the work of furthering worker-centric supports into the future.
As I pondered the next step in my career, I was introduced to Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO of Panorama. She gave me the opportunity to think about how Panorama’s work with companies on paid leave might grow to encompass the needs of a changing workforce.
It was during these conversations that my father was abruptly rushed into an emergency heart surgery. His recovery was complicated, and he found himself in a rehabilitation facility. It was while sitting just a few feet from his hospital bed that I finished writing my proposal on this work – and in those moments I realized that while my passion for this work had always been clear, never had it been so poignant.
Shortly after, I joined Panorama – were I have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for business-led solutions that advance the needs of a changing workforce. We believe that a dependable livelihood should be a reality for all people and that the contributions of a diverse group of people is essential to driving innovation in the coming decades. This becomes a reality when all workers have the support they need to thrive, and employers see worker-supports as essential to the cost of doing business.
Regardless of where we come from, we all have to work hard to balance our jobs and the personal demands of our lives. I am inspired by the innovative ways businesses are leading the charge and look forward to working with these leaders to ensure that all American’s have the opportunity to thrive at work and at home.
Thanks to my dad for showing me the way.