Heroes of the 500

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Nearly 27 million people go to work for the Fortune 500 companies every day. We found 55 of them—sometimes working together—whose extraordinary acts of bravery, kindness and selflessness are changing people’s lives. Read more about our second annual list here.
RANK NAME AFFILIATION TITLE AGE LOCATION
1 Michele Haddad Ingram Micro Executive Assistant 47 Santa Ana, California
2 Mustapha Gore Citigroup Executive Services Agent 60 London, United Kingdom
3 Jeremy Folland Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Financial Associate 41 Hallock, Minnesota
4 Kevin Wang Microsoft TEALS Founder and Ringleader 35 Redmond, Washington
5 Mike DelPizzo AT&T Professional, Technical, Process and Quality Manager 60 Jacksonville, Florida
6 Paula Kok AT&T Network Support Senior Specialist 46 Helena, Alabama
7 Harry Behrens Comcast Network Engineer 38 Vineland, New Jersey
8 Marcela Loaiza MGM Resorts International Cocktail Waitress 37 Las Vegas, Nevada
9 Patrick Working, Mark Nowlin, Crystal Wright, Noelle Banks, Nina Porter, and Princeton Richardson Delta Air Lines Captain, First Officer, and Flight Attendants - Detroit, Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; New York, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia
10 Paul ‘Mo’ Moline and Jim Round C.H. Robinson Worldwide General Manager and Global Forwarding Regional Director, respectively 51 and 46 Forth Worth and Grapevine, Texas
11 Michael Lee Absher Wells Fargo Teller 25 Hendersonville, North Carolina
12 Anne Cheung Biogen Senior Associate Scientist 39 Cambridge, Massachusetts
13 Richard ‘Stick’ Williams Duke Energy President, Duke Energy Foundation 62 Charlotte, North Carolina
14 Russell Doussan Live Nation Entertainment President, New Orleans 49 New Orleans, Louisiana
15 Kate Cummings DaVita HealthCare Partners Nurse 44 Mount Laurel, New Jersey
16 Toni Bazon-Forsberg Exelon Senior Environmental Coordinator, Com-Ed 54 Chicago, Illinois
17 Michael Clark Eli Lilly Senior Sales Representative 39 Hershey, Pennsylvania
18 Ryan Russek CarMax Senior buyer 33 Duarte, California
19 Ron Kocian Caterpillar Team Lead, Caterpillar Victoria 43 Victoria, Texas
20 Mary Jo Quinn Allstate Vice President, Assistant General Counsel 59 Northbrook, Illinois
21 Mike Sheehy Abbott Laboratories Senior Director of Global Purchasing 43 Abbott Park, Illinois
22 Alicia Smith Tech Data Senior Project Manager, IT 45 Clearwater, Florida
23 John Cartwright Intel Education Services Manager, Intel Sales and Marketing Group 57 Hillsboro, Oregon
24 Silvia Vasquez-Lavado eBay Principal of Enterprise Technology 40 San Jose, California
25 Tim Gruhlke CSX Special agent 38 East St. Louis, Illinois
26 Diane Moore McKesson Clinical Decision Support Implementation Manager 49 Durham, North Carolina
27 Michael O’Neal International Paper Maintenance Electrician 59 Savannah, Georgia
28 Kelly McDonald Raytheon Principal Planning and Production Control Specialist 45 Largo, Florida
29 Sheri Daye IBM IBM Software Group Manager 58 Boca Raton, Florida
30 Ray O’Brien Ryder System Technician 62 Stoneham, Massachusetts
31 Paul Ruszczyk Time Warner Senior Transmission Engineer, Turner Broadcasting 46 Atlanta, Georgia
32 Patrice Eastham Assurant Vice President, Business Communications 55 Atlanta, Georgia
33 Tlaca Benavides Dow Chemical Latin America Marketing Manager--Advanced Manufacturing Solutions and ERG Leader 31 Sao Paolo, Brazil
34 Chris Pilkerton JP Morgan Chase Compliance Director 41 New York, New York
35 Dorothy Varon and Kathy McGrath Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group Assistant Vice-President and Counsel, Senior Corporate Counsel, respectively 63 and 58 Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts
36 Justin Gordon Kroger Store manager 33 Louisville, Kentucky
37 Jonathan Greene SunTrust Banks Group Vice President Area Manager 47 Asheville, North Carolina
38 James Mailman Aflac Field Force Liaison Manager 53 Columbus, Georgia
39 Kari Miller Lockheed Martin Adaptive Sport Coordinator, Community Programs 38 San Antonio, Texas
40 Rachel Wilkins Patel Progressive Web Application Developer 39 Mayfield Village, Ohio
41 Jeff Stecyk SanDisk Senior Manager, Sales Engineering 43 San Francisco, California
42 Timothy Russo JetBlue Airways Manager, Strategic Maintenance and Material Planning 38 Queens, New York
43 Eric Gelber CBRE Group Executive Vice President, Retail Services 48 New York, New York
44 Noel Keesling and Joe Clement UPS Delivery Drivers 56 and 53 Clearwater, Florida
45 Manoj Cherian Qualcomm Senior Security Manager, Qualcomm India 58 Bangalore, India
46 Bruce Graham J.C. Penney Business Analyst 59 Plano, Texas
47 Mark Cavalleri Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America Manager, Reporting and Analytics 40 Orlando, Florida
11

Michael Lee Absher

Teller, Wells Fargo, 25
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Courtesy of Wells Fargo

Location: Hendersonville, N.C.

 

Homeless youth are rarely noticeable to people who aren’t looking for them; they often sleep on friends’ couches, in school buses or in their cars. But for Michael Absher, a teller for Wells Fargo (No. 30) in Hendersonville, N.C., who was homeless for a portion of high school, homeless youth are far from invisible. It wasn’t long after Absher graduated from high school and secured housing of his own in 2009 that he learned the homeless shelter that supported him would be closing its housing services. He started Only Hope WNC, an organization dedicated to addressing the need of homeless youth in his hometown of Hendersonville. Through the organization, Absher arranges informal host homes for homeless youth so they have a place to live until they graduate. In emergency situations, such as extreme weather, he’ll pay for a hotel room for them. Only Hope WNC also stocks a basic needs closet for local youth containing items like food (“food that kids would eat—not just green beans”), hygiene products and school supplies. Much of the funding for the group comes from the annual “Sleep Outs” that Absher hosts each year on the steps of the local courthouse. Through his efforts, Absher met state Sen. Tom Apodaca, who has worked with Absher to introduce a bill in the North Carolina Senate that would authorize a legislative study on the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth.

 

For the homeless kids Absher encounters, his own history with homelessness makes a difference. “They get a little more comfortable because they know that it’s not an old person trying to tell them what to do,” he says. “It breaks that barrier of respect because I can help that kid understand it’s not their fault.”

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