Behind the Business: Erica Lengermann, ECHO works
1. What is your role at ECHO Works? My role as Business Development Manager is a collaborative position focused on developing new business relationships and work sites to ensure growth inECHO’ssupported employment; leading ECHO’s efforts in obtaining and performing under Federal, State and local government contracts, and; establishing and maintaining relationships with business, government and community leaders.
2. What is ECHO’s mission/purpose?
To provide employment, training and community integration forpeople with disabilities while delivering quality business services (such as staffing, mail room services, grounds maintenance, and facilities management). We employ about 120 people with disabilities under AbilityOne Federal contracts and County, commercial and non-profit agreements, such as K2M, Loudoun County Public Schools, Inova and the National Conference Center. We also provide community integration and medically fragile day support to a number of other individuals with disabilities.
3. How can others in the community volunteer/help ECHO with their mission?
Coincidentally, I just wrote an article on this today. First, hire ECHO! Otherwise, participate in community events, volunteeror become an Ambassador by providing introductions to local companies, speaking engagement opportunities, or tours of your facility to provide community integration for our people with disabilities.
4. How did you get to where you are today in your career?
I’ve always enjoyed creating partnerships between business, community and government, first in the lobbying arm of a law firm and later in salesand marketing with an energy and defense publisher. What appealed to me most about ECHO, aside from helping people with disabilities, was the range of organizations to work with, everything from the Chamber to a medical device company. I’ve truly enjoyed the past couple months at ECHO and am enthused to be here and grow opportunities for our participants.
5. When did you know you wanted to be involved in the non-profit world?
Shortly before resigning from my job as Director of Business Development in the defense world – when I stopped finding it to be a compelling, fulfilling position, because I wasn’t directly helping people. While successful, more and more I had found my corporate roles to be lacking. My recent move to Middleburg dovetailed with my decision to find something more compelling and in-line with my values.
6. How did ECHO get involved at the Chamber?
ECHO has been involved with the local community for40 years, many of those with the Chamber, and we hosted our first Chamber meeting when our ECHO Direct Mail Services facility opened in Leesburg in 1991.
7. What is your favorite memory at your job so far?
Seeing participants’ ear-to-ear smiles when they are working.
8. What is your favorite part about your job?
Meeting people, whether it’s local business and civic leaders, professionals at like organizations, or new participants – there are so many elements to this job! I also enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together – figuring out how exactly our participants can help businesses, since every organization and its needs are vastly different.
9. What is the hardest part of your job?
Having to turn down employment opportunities for our participants because they are outside of our model (nighttime rather than daytime work, etc.)
10. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Horseback riding (particularly volunteering with the U.S. Park Police Mounted Unit throughout D.C.), and visiting local wineries.
11. What is your favorite app?
On a personal level, there’s a video app for My Dog’s Daycare – you can watch your dog play with the other puppies, though I don’t bother much! On a more professional note, this article just came out which details 9 apps that improve the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities that I found interesting.
Thanks for answering a few of our questions, Erica!
(Photo credit: ECHO; 1st photo – ECHO employees at Loudoun County Public Schools shredding; 2nd photo – ECHO employees working through Aramark at AOL, now Verizon)