Dedication to community support: Meet Changemaker Adam Kouhel
Adam is a technology analyst for digital advisory services. He is based in Wipfli’s Chicago office.
Ready for a day rebuilding homes after hurricanes Marco and Laura ravaged Louisiana
A Louisiana rooftop on one of the hottest days of summer is the last place Adam Kouhel, Wipfli technology analyst, thought he’d find himself.
But that’s where he was in September 2020, during the throes of the pandemic. Adam had taken a week off from work to join Team Rubicon — an international disaster response nonprofit that provides rapid relief to communities in need — as they rebuilt a community that had been ravaged by a hurricane.
He’d never been on a roof before volunteering with the emergency response team.
“I was freaking out climbing the ladder,” says Adam. “I had someone spotting me at the top and bottom.” He quickly got over that initial fear.
Adam spent an intense six days working alongside other “greyshirts” — as the hard-working Team Rubicon volunteers are called — putting in long hours in 105-degree heat with 100-percent humidity. He estimates the team spent five to seven hours each day on those hot roofs, breathing through N95 masks to help protect themselves from Covid-19.
And he’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.
Adam and Cheddar (8 weeks) spending their first day together
Nonstop response in times of need
This trip wasn’t Adam’s first introduction to Team Rubicon. He’d worked with them for three years, helping to develop digital solutions that enable the organization to respond quickly to disasters when they strike.
In March 2020, it felt as though everything stopped — except disasters, of course — and Team Rubicon. With Wipfli’s help, the organization built a technical solution for restructuring its volunteer management system in response to new restrictions under COVID-19.
“I wasn’t in Louisiana as a Wipfli associate,” says Adam. “I was there as a Greyshirt witnessing the system being used on the ground. It gave me a deeper understanding of Team Rubicon and a chance to hear the impact of our work directly from other Greyshirts.”
Now, Team Rubicon is leveraging the tech as the basis of the Veterans Coalition for Vaccination program running Covid-19 testing and vaccine clinics across the country.
For Adam, volunteering is as energizing as it is exhausting
A talent for supporting change
Working with nonprofit clients at Wipfli gives Adam the chance to use his talents to support organizations that affect change. In the case of Team Rubicon, it also gave him the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and give back directly.
“I get up excited every day to do what I do,” he says.
This isn’t Adam’s first experience with nonprofits or being a changemaker.
In 2019, he was selected as a part of the Obama Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps: a six-month leadership development program for young adults aged 18 to 26 Adam and two other corps members put together a one-day resource fair for LGBTQ+ youth. The fair covered a wide range of topics, such as sexual health, HIV prevention, imposter syndrome, body image and body dysmorphia. The program also connected attendees to Chicago-based professionals in various industries, as well as led the young adults through activities that helped gain their confidence and provide a safe space to express themselves.
Adam is also the founder and chair of Wipfli Pride, the company’s first LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group. More than 350 Wipfli team members logged in for the group’s virtual kickoff. Adam has been instrumental in shaping Pride’s structure and organization and helping to shape what diversity, inclusion and equity look like at Wipfli.
We’re grateful for team members like Adam, who help Wipfli connect with and support vital services in our communities.