Meet the Team That Helps Thrive Market Give Back

February 14, 2019
by Nicole Gulotta for Thrive Market
Meet the Team That Helps Thrive Market Give Back

We’re on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. That’s why for every paid membership, we give a free membership to a student, teacher, veteran, first responder, or low-income family in need. But that’s just one piece of how our Thrive Market community makes an impact. Members can go one step further by donating a portion of their savings at checkout, and all donations received go directly to Thrive Gives members’ shopping carts, disaster relief efforts, and the nonprofit organizations we partner with that align to our mission.

Giving has been part of our business model since the beginning, but in 2018, we created a staff-led initiative called the Mission Task Force, which is made up of volunteers who dedicate a few hours each month to supporting the Thrive Gives program. The team is led by Mission Manager Kristin DeSimone, who loves bringing together committed employees to play an active role in moving our mission forward. “Task force members are encouraged to use their specific skill sets to help elevate the mission, as well as engage other employees and our members to participate in all of the exciting work we’re doing. The task force has proven to be instrumental in maximizing our social impact,” DeSimone says.

Kristin DeSimone

In 2018, the Mission Task Force helped distribute $250,000 in support of initiatives ranging from local food drives to disaster relief, as well as 20,000 free memberships to low-income families, teachers, veterans, first responders, and students. “Whether it was mobilizing for multiple disaster relief efforts or orchestrating a $70,000 Thanksgiving food donation to Big Sunday in Los Angeles, the team has quickly activated employees and our member community alike,” DeSimone says. “Coming together with talented people who share the passion and desire to ensure our mission is being felt is the most rewarding part of all.”


Meet the O.G. Task Force

Thrive Gives Task Force

Before we meet the 2019 team, let’s get acquainted with the original group that started it all. We asked each task force member what inspired them to volunteer, and which causes are close to their hearts.

Julian Landen

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

I personally relate to our mission through my upbringing; many family members and friends were unable to afford healthy foods because of the expense, but [there was also] a lack of education around the impact of food on our health. The Thrive Market mission stands out to me because we not only strive to make healthy food more affordable and accessible, but also to create a community of education and exploration. Second, I believe in a future business landscape where socially responsible companies can prosper. I think Thrive Market has already done so much to be a role model in this space, and I want to contribute my skills and energy into furthering us as an agent for positive social change.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

I’ve always been interested in causes that support youth. I think childhood should be a precious and enjoyable period for everyone, and supporting that kind of environment is important to me. Childhood is also the most vulnerable part of a person’s life, where they’re learning at the most rapid pace while establishing habits that they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Youth is an amazing group to support, because having a positive impact in the present can potentially impact adulthood, as well.

Kesha McNair

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Member Services Thrive Gives team for the last couple of years, and reading our members’ testimonials and seeing the difference we make in people's lives is truly rewarding. Joining the Mission Task Force gave me the ability to work directly on initiatives and campaigns to support our mission.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

I’m truly inspired by the below nonprofit groups because of the work and dedication they put in to make each initiative a success. Each one has various programs and resources to benefit low-income families and girls in the inner cities:

  • Family Promise: Committed to helping low-income families achieve lasting independence
  • Girls Inc of Greater Los Angeles: Provides hundreds of girls with life-changing support and real solutions to the unique issues they face through education and enrichment programs that focus on STEM education, literacy, and math

Sylvia Hartley

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

Joining the Mission Task Force was a simple decision for me, because Thrive Gives is one of the main reasons I decided to work for Thrive Market. Every day, we’re able to make so many decisions on where we spend our time and energy, and so I’m both excited and humbled that my time can be spent with a company whose mission is to create change and do good. Giving back is an integral part of my personal life, and so it made sense to have it be part of my everyday work efforts, as well. And without a doubt, being involved so directly with our mission has been one of the most amazing parts of working here yet!

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

My most endearing memories from my time on the task force were spent on our partnerships with Big Sunday for its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, and our upcoming partnership with charity: water. Both initiatives are rooted in nonprofits that have incredible reach and impact, so our ability to donate food, money, and volunteers has supported those nonprofits as they scale their efforts.

Christine McNerney

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

Our social mission at Thrive Market was a key determining factor when I decided to join the company. Giving back was a core piece of my upbringing and something that has stayed with me in adulthood, and to blend both my professional and personal passions was such a unique opportunity. Over the years, I’ve always loved hearing about Thrive Gives initiatives, so when the opportunity arose for me to be directly part of that process, I knew I had to do it.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

Helping raise awareness around tampon tax and supporting women in need who can’t afford or don’t have access to feminine care products. While managing the Feminine Care category here at Thrive Market a few years ago, I learned about this issue and realized the impact it has on millions of women’s lives—women who have to skip work or miss school because they don’t have the products they need, when they need them. I’m passionate about providing free, clean, safe feminine care products in public spaces and removing the "luxury" level tax that many states still place on the category.


The 2019 Task Force

Thrive Market Task Force

This year, a new crop of Mission Task Force members are eager to make a difference, especially around access to healthy living and environmental stewardship. Read on to get to know our amazing team!


Jamie Levine

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

Having grown up in a household that encouraged me to help those less fortunate whenever possible, I’ve always been passionate about giving back. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been adamant about finding organizations with missions that resonate with me, always offering my time either designing or volunteering. As a company, Thrive Market was super appealing to me for not only being an amazing retailer for healthy goods, but also for our mission. I’m so grateful to blend my two passions to make real change and create initiatives for such an incredible program.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

Besides the amazing partners that Thrive Market already has (like Teach For America, Feeding America, and Big Sunday), I love to support my local charities to make an impact in the communities around me. One of my favorite organizations that I’ve dedicated a lot of time to is called Big Smiles Program; it was started by two of my friends and is essentially art therapy for children with terminal illnesses at Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. I’m also a huge fan of Best Friends Animal Society for all of its efforts to help animals in shelters, especially its initiative for No-Kill by 2025.


LeAnn Nguyen

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

It wasn’t a particular event or moment that drove me to volunteer for the task force—I just feel extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to work for Thrive Market for more than three years now. How can I not give back to the community through the company that has expanded my knowledge and experience and launched my career? I hope to make an impact on other people’s lives the way that Thrive Market has so positively influenced mine.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

My favorite charity is the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. Every year, founder Marc Ching puts his life on the line to save thousands of animals from being killed through the Asian dog meat trade. After rescuing these animals, he and his team rehabilitate them and place each and every animal in a new home.


Will Lochran

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

Our mission as a company is the core reason I took a role with Thrive Market. Working for an organization that stands for something and gives back to the communities it works in is a huge piece of why I love coming to work every day. Participating in past events organized by the Mission Task Force and being encouraged to contribute has really been personally fulfilling. When the opportunity arose to continue all the amazing work the task force has done, and directly influence, participate, and share my expertise in decisions that affect so many people in a positive way, I couldn’t help but jump at it.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

I have two little boys under the age of three and I know how hard it is to make ends meet some weeks, so Baby2Baby and all the amazing work it does has been a real highlight for me. I love the Movember initiative, which raises awareness around men’s health issues in a fun way. I’m also a huge fan of the work the team has done around mobilizing resources for disaster relief—it’s so impressive to see it done so quickly and effectively.


Casey Bradford

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

I’m jubilant to collaborate with our passionate, driven, and creative team to innovate more ways to make our mission more impactful!

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

  • Effective Altruism: How can we use our resources to help others the most? Using evidence and careful analysis, Effective Altruism is working to determine the very best causes to work on.
  • MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is innovating new ways to help heal those suffering from a variety of conditions that are difficult to treat.
  • Cool Earth: Defending at-risk rainforest by creating a shield of neighboring villages refusing to sell their land to loggers and protecting the Amazon, our planet’s most valuable resource.

I’m inspired by these causes because the beneficial impact rippling from their work is significant, original, and powerful.


Alison Hodgson

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

Volunteering for the Mission Task Force was a no-brainer. One of my favorite parts of working at Thrive Market is how clear our individual positive impact is, and how that impact reverberates seamlessly from our work, to our customers, and the world. As the product manager for our apps, I’m passionate about bringing what’s palpable at headquarters—the fervor for the mission, the stories behind our better-for-the-world products, and the outcomes of our giving work—to our members within our digital shopping experience. When I perform better in my role, the company helps more people reach their health goals; with this growth, we’re shifting our collective consciousness and consumption to supply chains and products that are better for our planet. I see the task force as a way to amplify my impact.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

In terms of direct intervention, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is a favorite, not just for its position on environmental conservation, but for reminding me how selfless we can and should be in fighting for what we believe in. Those volunteers spend innumerable months out at sea, away from their loved ones, swabbing decks! On the other side of the spectrum, I’m also really interested in organizations researching, supporting, and applying the principles of the circular economy, in which materials are shared, re-used, and continuously cycled. They’re making the long-term policy case for an economy that runs on a quadruple bottom line.


Matthew Schulert

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

From the moment our CEO Nick Green announced the idea of a Mission Task Force, I was extremely interested in getting involved. Growing up in a faith-based family, the needs of others have always been important to me. Working for a company with such a strong social mission has been a huge breath of fresh air, and I’m thankful to be on the ground working with those that bring that mission to life.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

Hollywood Winter Refuge: We have an immense homeless and housing-insecure population in our city. This annual three-month program allows for up to 25 people to sleep indoors each night, and have breakfast and dinner served to them by volunteers daily.
Harvest Home LA: Harvest Home transforms the lives of homeless pregnant women and their children by providing housing, support, and programs. They serve 10 homeless women at a time, and up to 30 a year in a comfortable residential home.


Kiel Faulkner

What inspired you to volunteer for the task force?

My upbringing inspired me to volunteer and help drive change with the Mission Task Force. My parents come from poor backgrounds and we weren’t that well-off growing up, so cutting corners was bred in them and a must for us. Unfortunately, food and nutrition was one of the main categories that suffered. Even with the access to discounted military commissary prices, we still were fighting for pennies saved, which meant passing on products that were more expensive but better for us. To this day, I still see my family struggle with this. I truly believe that if a commodity like Thrive Market was around when I was younger, things would have been much different. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health and well-being for your wallet, and that’s where we come in. I think education around this new school of thought is essential, and I’m here to give it my all to spread this message to the masses.

What are some of your favorite causes and why?

I personally love our mission work that relates to low-income families, military, and the environment. I think being a resource for these communities is really what drove my interest in the company initially, but the environmental factors were a cherry on top. We not only need to look after our people, but our surroundings as well, and our mission absolutely encompasses all the above. Some of my favorite organizations are

  • Feeding America
  • Salvation Army
  • Red Cross
  • World Resources Institute
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
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