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March 2020

Adjusting to a COVID-19 World

RoyBy: Roy Wells 

For those of you who are clients and friends of the firm, you are aware that Triad Strategies is open for business (remotely from our homes). We have been working diligently to keep our clients aware of how Pennsylvania government at all levels is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. From assisting in getting waivers for life sustaining projects involving our clients and their contractors, to links to critical federal, state, and local resources, we continue to provide the value that our clients expect from us. But we would be remiss not to recognize our clients and their employees who are offering their services and resources as Americans pull together to protect themselves and each other. 

Our technology clients, CiscoPure Storage, and SHI are offering their services and technologies to provide critical collaboration tools to state and local governments. Cisco is providing remote learning, worker and telehealth services, as well as virtual public session technology for all levels of governmentPure Storage is offering its on-premise and cloud storage service, Pure as-a-Servicefree for three months, along with low-touch installation services. SHI is hosting on-line webinars to help companies use Microsoft Teams to aid in collaboration while employees are working in remote locations.  

Wakefern Food Corporation has stepped up to ensure that our food supply continues to reach the public by raising the wages of their employees by $2 per hour and installing plexiglass shields at cash registers to protect both their employees and the public from further transmitting.  

Dan Hilferty, chief executive officer of Independence Health Group, parent of Independence Blue Cross has been on the airwaves of southeastern Pennsylvania promoting the importance of social distancing and cleanliness.  

Magellan Health is bringing clinical expertise and support to individuals, including providing one of its digital cognitive behavioral therapy (DCBT) apps, RESTORE®, at no cost for people experiencing sleep difficulty and insomnia. Check out Magellan’s blog for the latest tips on how to deal with sheltering in place.  

Columbia Gas has suspended shutoffs for non-payment, is offering flexible payment plans and has suspended late fees through May 1, 2020. PECO is also suspending service disconnections and waiving new late payment charges through at least May 1, 2020 and is expanding its assistance programs to help customers in need. The West View Water Authority, committed to delivering safe and uninterrupted water service, has suspended water terminations and is providing the public with information on water-related tips on social media 

The College Board is providing free online AP classes and a new at-home testing option so students still have the opportunity to earn college credit and placement. 

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and their local chapters are prepared to aid in the building of isolation rooms, temporary hospital wards, as well as sensitive construction projects that can affect our well-being and health. 

Also, we can’t forget our first responders on the front lines, who are being tested now more than ever. The Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association is working directly with the Wolf administration to give up-to-date data on personal protective equipment, to make sure the public is safe. 

We are all in this together, and it will take all of us to navigate through this storm and the rough waters ahead. If we all continue to offer our services and assistance to one another, we will get through this as safely as possible. If you are in need of our services, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. If it is within our ability, we will be there for you. 


Staying Connected

Brandi Hunter-Davenport

By Brandi Hunter-Davenport

“I’m just adapting to the new normal.” I’ve heard a variation of this phrase over the course of the last week and suspect I’ll continue to hear these words more frequently as I check in with friends, family and colleagues over the course of the next several weeks.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken us to a place many of us never expected to experience in our lifetimes. These times are unpredictable, uncertain and unknown. They can be very frightening and invoke anxiety in multiple areas of our lives. We are all trying to navigate how to continue business operations, homeschool children, check on loved ones and maintain our sanity during a pandemic.

All of this individually can be overwhelming. Combined, it’s even more.

Here at Triad Strategies, we are doing all we can to support our employees as they adapt to their new work environments, while supporting individual personal needs and continuing to meet the needs of our clients.

Part of that effort includes examining what communication looks like. When you’re accustomed to being in the same physical space, with the ability to simply walk to one another’s offices, and now you’re working remotely and yelling someone’s name isn’t as easy as it once was, the dynamic of how you work together changes. There are challenges we may now face in working from remote spaces.

The question becomes what can we all do to support one another during these times and how can we proactively humanize how we communicate with one another?

In a recent webinar hosted by the Arbinger Institute, Professor Albert Mehrabian’s Communication Theory1 was explored. According to his theory:

  • Words or verbal communication comprises seven percent of language.
  • Tone of voice and inflection makes up 38 percent.
  • Body language accounts for the majority of how we communicate is 55 percent.

Think about these numbers for a moment. If we are only communicating via email, we’re only translating seven percent of our intended communication to the recipient. When tone, inflection and body language can’t be shared in that space, there is the potential for miscommunication to occur. We need to be mindful about our messages and how they may come across.

Early in my career, I was a habitual emailer, thinking I had to respond immediately. I didn’t consider the short-term impacts to what could have been perceived as a flippant email.  I didn’t consider the long-term benefits to taking a few moments to placing a phone call or scheduling an in-person discussion.

I told myself that responding quickly via email made me a super employee. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Responding within seconds, rather than taking a few moments, may not necessarily allow me to truly analyze the request made or to consider the receiver’s point of view.

I was being what the Arbinger Institute would describe as inward. I was living in my own world and not considering all perspectives or potential consequences. I just knew I had run to the finish line without truly taking in the run itself.

What I’ve since learned, as I continue growing in my career, is there is something to be said about being intentional and thoughtful in responding. I now take the time to re-read an email a few times before sending. I put myself in the receiver’s position and consider how he or she may interpret this message. If it’s topic of a sensitive nature, I pick up the phone and have a conversation. Those conversations can be via audio and/or video, but they allow for deeper connection and collaboration.

Triad is Triad is because we believe in the power and value of relationships. Relationships are sustained and increased when we take the time as individuals to connect on a human level. Yes, there is work to do, projects to complete, and deals to close.

But none of these can be accomplished if we don’t take the time to connect. Picking up the phone and just having some personal engagement can enhance the work to be accomplished in the long run.

When’s the last time you sent a colleague a note or picked up the phone and simply asked, how are you doing?

Being separated from one another physically can have some bearing on our mental health and well-being. We can become inward thinking in our processes and not as engaged in a collaborative spirit with our team members. And this isn’t intentional. It’s simply because we may not be feeling as connected to one another as we should be while we are practicing spatial distance.

Triad is utilizing a series of tools to help us stay connected as a team during this time. And we are using these same tools to remain connected with each of our clients. We are each other’s lifelines and we will get through this time together.

Stay safe and stay well. (Retrieved 2020, March 19). Mehrabian's Communication Theory: Verbal, Non-Verbal, Body Language.

Brandi Hunter-Davenport is a Triad Strategies senior associate.

Friday Happy Hour: Social Distancing Edition

Social distancing

We begin this week’s festivities with a bit of history, in the hope of creating some context for what we’re facing right now. “Black Death,” aka “the Great Bubonic Plague,” aka “the Great Plague,” or simply, “the Plague” is estimated to have killed between 75 million and 200 million people in Eurasia between 1346 and 1353, wiping out 30% to 60% of Europe’s population. It took 200 years to repopulate.

Not to minimize the coronavirus disease – it’s serious – but among pandemics, the Plague was really badass – probably (we hope) lots more so than COVID-19 is shaping up to be. Nevertheless, the country has been thrown into a panic over handwashing, face-touching, forearm-bumping, school closings, canceled sporting events, self-quarantines, testing kits, working from home and this new thing known as “social distancing.” We seem to be perilously close to being confined to our homes with nothing good to watch on TV (aka “sporting events”).

Oh, and that strong, stifling stink? That’s the global economy.

In Washington, President Trump floated the idea of reducing the payroll tax through the end of the year as one way of helping people get through the pandemic. Also mentioned were extending the tax-filing deadline, reimbursing companies for sick leave and providing aid to the travel industry. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of these ideas will gain traction.

In Pennsylvania, the COVID-19 tally was up to nearly 30 presumptive positive cases by week’s end, more than half of which were in Montgomery County. Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine have conducted daily updates to keep the public apprised and, at least so far, haven’t honked off any foreign governments or rankled any stock exchanges.

Then there’s the whole grocery shopping panic. Many people are asking, “Why the sudden run on toilet paper, when other staples such as milk and bread remain on the grocery shelves?” To which we respond, have you ever tried using milk or bread to… oh, never mind.

By the end of the week, Anthony Fauci, head of the infectious diseases division at the National Institutes of Health, said the country was just a few days away from finally having the ability to widely distribute testing kits, and in the meantime, WASH YOUR HANDS!

To help customers affected by the pandemic, PECO has suspended service disconnections and waived new late payment charges through at least May 1, 2020. In addition, PECO will continue to remind customers of existing bill assistance resources and energy assistance programs to support them through temporary or extended financial hardship.


Two former Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, threw their support to former U.S. Sen. and former Vice President Joe Biden on the eve of another multi-state primary, which the week before became a two-person race. Wait! What?? Tulsi Gabbard is still in it???

Consequently, Biden had another good Tuesday, winning primaries by significant margins in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Bernie Sanders claimed North Dakota and eight delegates, and Washington was still too close to call by the end of the week. It’s not looking good for “Feel the Bern” as Biden has suddenly significantly increased his delegate lead, and many Dems are calling for Sanders to stop the sniping and allow the party to unite.

Assuming that either Trump, Biden or Sanders is elected in November, we will behold the oldest president ever elected. Trump, who was first elected at age 70, is the current record holder, and would be four years older. Sanders would be 78, and Biden 77.

Last week, PennDOT said it was not overly concerned that Real ID driver licenses aren’t exactly selling like hotcakes. This week, Allegheny County Airport Authority officials piped up, saying “well, we ARE overly concerned about that, on account of the prospect of people without Real IDs showing up and expecting to fly, only to be turned away because they didn’t bring a passport.” It ain’t easy being an airport. As of Oct. 1, anyone without Real ID will need a passport to fly or enter certain federal facilities.

The National Socialist Movement has been granted a permit to hold a rally in Williamsport next month. Anticipating that some residents will not be pleased that this self-described white civil rights organization (and assuming the event will go on as planned), Mayor Derek Slaughter is asking residents “to denounce this hateful rally” by attending a city-sponsored “Dare to be Different” event instead. Good move, Mr. Mayor.

Our We Can’t Make This Up feature this week takes us, once again, to the internet. Are you seeking advice on how to avoid being infected by COVID-19? Online dating app Tinder would be more than happy to help. Among the app’s tips: frequent handwashing, carrying hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face (or presumably anyone else’s) and of course, social distancing.

And that’s what passes for news around here this week, friends! We’d like you to know that before typing this missive, we scrubbed our hands, Lysoled the keyboard and donned latex gloves. Have a great weekend (while keeping appropriate social distance) and we’ll either be back again next week or self-quarantined and working from home!

International Women's Day

International Women's Day (IWD), which occurs annually on March 8th, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #Eachforequal, focusing on practices to create a gender-equal world. 

Even with recent strides, gender inequality is still pervasive, especially in government and politics. For example, in Pennsylvania, women make up 58 percent of the workforce, yet only comprise 25% in both the state house and senate.

Triad Strategies has grown significantly over the past two years and there is no doubt that our success as a firm is a direct reflection of our diversity and our commitment to gender equality.

In honor of IWD, we asked some of the women who work at Triad a few questions about their experience as a woman in the workplace and what advice they have.

Here’s what they have to say:

Are there things that you’ve seen women struggle within the workplace?

One of the biggest struggles I have seen is the desire for women to compete against each other for a seat at the table. Leadership positions for women are often limited and there is a perception that we must fight each other for that spot. I have always been of the mindset that we just need to add more seats. It’s challenging enough for women, so I’d rather lift up other women than compete with them.

-Megan Dapp, Senior Associate

What’s the best advice you can give a woman to build her career?

Competence and confidence need to go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, even the most competent and accomplished women often underestimate their abilities and performance. For example, women only apply for a job or promotion if they meet all of the qualifications listed, whereas men throw their hats in the ring if they meet just 60 percent of them. Self-confidence does not come from an external action or validation, like a promotion or a compliment. Instead, true confidence is the belief in your abilities. Knowing that you already have what you need to succeed and believing that you can do hard things.

-Jennifer Riley, Senior Associate

Is there a woman who inspires you, and why? 

My first female supervisor who was in the C Suite taught me many great lessons: The art of process and efficiency mixed with compassion and empathy, how to hold your tongue in the appropriate situations, when to be passionate and share your convictions – but most importantly— how to invest in people to maximize the great potential that exists in all. Thanks, Amy Beamer!

-Jan Webb, Executive Assistant

What's the best advice you can give a woman to build her career?

Set your own boundaries and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. As women, too often, we feel like we have to take on everything for everybody – sometimes we do so to our own detriment. Be intentional about establishing a balance that works for you. Don’t be afraid to be direct and to use your voice. Know your worth and own it. Know that every day is a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You won’t grow and expand in your career if you don’t hit these bumps in the road. IWD blog graphic

-Brandi Hunter-Davenport, Senior Associate

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Although it can feel polarizing to often be the only woman in the room, make it a point to not separate yourself from your co-workers simply because of your gender. Be confident in your abilities and do not be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas with the group—find your voice and use it often. I have found that women struggle with confidence in the workplace much more than men, regardless of their background and ability.

Outside of the workplace make an effort to join women-led organizations and networking events.  Identifying and building a female mentorship relationship in a similar field is vital to growing in your career.

-Daena Ortenzio, Associate

What advice do you give women who are entering a male-dominated profession?

Know you belong there. You’ve earned your spot. Go boldly forward, utilizing your deep wealth of knowledge and creative thought. Bring other women into your journey and build a network that will sharpen your aptitudes. Generations of women fought doggedly to provide you a path toward the head of the table. Honor them through your diligence and by edifying other women around you.

-Olivia Edwards Rindfuss, Associate

Women’s equality has made significant gains, but we still have a long way to go. Here at Triad, we will continue to support women and positively add to the gender equality movement.  We are incredibly thankful to have such strong and intelligent women on Team Triad and will continue to support them and all women in any way we can.

Friday Happy Hour: Hand Sanitizer Edition

Titos hand sanitizer

The prize for the Biggest News of the Week goes to former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden. While he’s still a long way from wrapping up the Democratic nomination, he did capture the coveted Phoenix Rising from the Ashes award. On Saturday in South Carolina, he won his first presidential primary ever, and three days later, on Super Tuesday, he laid claim to 10 more.

Bernie Sanders took the single biggest prize on Super Tuesday – California – but not by as much as he had hoped and expected. While the Golden State results are still being tallied, it appears that Sanders got about a third of the votes, while Biden got about a quarter of them. In terms of total delegates, they’re neck and neck, but either way, it’s game on.

And in the aftermath, we bid adieu to Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar (darn, just when we were finally learning to spell their names), Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. All Bloomberg has to show for his kazillion dollars is American Samoa, securing two-thirds of its six pledged delegates. Biden was immediately endorsed by Bloomberg, Briettegig and Krobuchum (see? Already we’ve forgotten how to spell their names).

Warren did not immediately endorse anyone, and there was wide-ranging speculation about which candidate would gain the most from her departure. While one might think it would be Sanders, as the only progressive of the two candidates still standing, there has been bad blood between Warren and Sanders, what with Warren knee-capping Sanders a couple of debates ago and the Sanders surrogates more recently bullying Warren to get out of the race and let the progressives rally behind their guy. Maybe the lesson here is that it’s unbecoming to kneecap or bully anyone you had previously called “a friend.”

Back home in PA, Franklin & Marshall Professor Terry Madonna posited that the Keystone State is now almost assured of being a key factor in selecting the Democratic nominee, despite our fairly late primary on April 28. In recent elections, presidential primary races have often been decided before Pennsylvanians cast their ballots.

Meanwhile, on that issue, Republican state Sen. John Gordner’s bill that would move the primary up to the third Tuesday in March in presidential years awaits House consideration after unanimous approval in the Senate.

The York Daily Record had an interesting analysis, reporting that tens of thousands of PA voters are switching parties this year. But unlike 2016, when a plethora of Dems switched to the GOP, the trend this year is in the other direction. More than 28,000 Republican and third-party voters have switched in Pennsylvania since the first of the year, YDR reports.

The coronavirus pandemic also received lots of ink this week as a panicked public rushed to stores to acquire hand sanitizer and face masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the surgeon general and every health care professional on the planet all say the face masks will not prevent the viral infection… but what do they know? By week’s end, President Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending measure sent to him by Congress.

Speaking of the president, he traveled to Scranton for a town hall meeting on Thursday, and for reasons known only to him seized the opportunity to bad-mouth Hunter Biden. It was Trump’s first visit to Pennsylvania in 2020 and his first town hall event of this year’s campaign season.

Obamacare once again is in the crosshairs as the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of a lawsuit brought by Texas that would strike down the Affordable Care Act. SCOTUS has upheld the law twice so far.

In economic news, February’s data showed a robust increase of 273,000 jobs, and mortgage rates hit a record low as investors shifted their money to the relative safety of the bond market in the wake of coronavirus anxiety. Looks like a bumpy ride for a while.

Beginning Monday, speeding through highway work zones could start costing you money. Automated speed enforcement has arrived in Pennsylvania, targeting those who violate the posted speed limit by at least 12 miles per hour. Your first offense will draw only a warning, but a second time will nick you for $75, with a $150 pop for subsequent offenses.

Our We Can’t Make This Up segment takes us to the interwebs, where a few Twitter users caused a stir by suggesting that Tito’s Vodka can be used to make hand sanitizer. The Austin-based distillery’s social media team quickly pointed out that, at 40 percent alcohol (80 proof), Tito’s isn’t potent enough to serve that purpose. Sadly, Bacardi 151 was discontinued a few years back.

And that’s about all we got this week, boys and girls! No hugging, no kissing, and stay away from planes and cruise ships – unless you have plenty of face masks on hand. We’ll see you back here next week.

The Triad Way

Triad High Res Logo 2By: Roy Wells 

Triad Strategies has evolved in many ways since its creation in 2001, but our core values have remained constant. Over the past 19 years, those core values have developed into a set of behaviors that we believe have led to our success as an organization.  During the last quarter of 2019, our leadership team sat down with David Friedman, author of Culture by Design and CEO of High Performing Culture LLC, to assist us in better defining and institutionalizing those behaviors that define our corporate culture.

After much introspection and discussion, we developed a list of 30 fundamental behaviors, which we refer to as “The Triad Way,” which describes how we work with our clients, public officials, strategic partners, our community partners, and most importantly, each other.  These behaviors comprise the very foundation of what we believe is our competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Although there are 30 fundamentals that encompass The Triad Way, all are grounded in our core values:  teamwork, honesty, integrity, client-focused, results driven, excellence and accountability. Each week team Triad focuses on one behavior which we describe as the fundamental of the week.  During every internal meeting, we discuss the fundamental of the week, how we practice it in our daily routines, and how we can ensure that it remains a part of our corporate culture.

Starting next week, we will begin our fundamental of the week blog post and share what we are focusing on. We look forward to sharing these behaviors and values with our community, with the hope of creating a deeper discussion that will not only help us improve our culture but hopefully assist others in strengthening theirs.  Stay tuned!