Air Cargo Executive of the Year: Giving back is the better part of valor

One aspect of the director job at Amazon Air that Sarah Rhoads said she enjoys the most is being able to use the wide-ranging logistics network to help out communities and those less fortunate than herself. For instance, in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017, Rhoads and her team – in collaboration with Amazon’s Disaster Relief team, the American Red Cross, and other partners – delivered more than 200,000 pounds worth of relief supplies to the islands in October 2017.

“One of the biggest challenges was simply ensuring the aircraft could physically be off-loaded upon arrival, especially considering the level of devastation on both islands,” said an Amazon spokesperson familiar with the Hurricane Irma/Maria relief effort. “Sarah leveraged the great working relationships her team has with other teams within Amazon to move very quickly when it came to consolidating supplies. Having an understanding of Amazon’s supply chain from Sarah’s previous experience in the fulfillment center world, and a firm understanding of ‘contingency’ operations from her naval service, all helped ensure a successful outcome.”

In September of this year, Amazon Air also launched an “Amazon Goes Gold” campaign to raise awareness for children struggling with cancer. The aviation arm made a $10,000 donation to Seattle Children’s Hospital for its efforts to fight this terrible disease.

As a military veteran, Rhoads is fond of recognizing the 18,000 “veterans, military spouses and citizen soldiers” who work for Amazon, and thanking them for their “dedicated service, in and out of uniform.” Collectively, they are known as Warriors@Amazon.

During the unveiling of the 40th 767-300F (pictured), the last aircraft from Amazon’s initial aircraft order in 2016, Rhoads held a special Veteran’s Day ceremony for the milestone at its Long Beach, Calif., hub on Nov. 12, inviting many of the Warriors to attend, along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“We’re naming this aircraft based on names submitted by our Warrior community,” she said during the unveiling. The winning entry was “Valor,” which was painted proudly on the nose of the new widebody freighter.

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