President & CEO
Q: Tell us about Phoenix and your mission.
Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation, Inc., doing business as Phoenix, is a 501c3 mission-based non-profit that operates in 9 North Alabama counties and seven states. With headquarters in Huntsville and primary operations on Redstone Arsenal, it celebrates a seventy-year history serving individuals with disabilities.
A service organization first, Phoenix offers several accredited vocational rehabilitation programs through a business and work model. By partnering with SourceAmerica, the AbilityOne Program, numerous Department of Defense, Department of Justice, NASA organizations, various commercial enterprises, and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Phoenix provides a continuum of services, culminating in long-term stable employment with competitive pay and benefits.
Finally, Phoenix annually provides grants to other non-profits serving people with disabilities, with longtime partner, the United Way of Madison County, receiving a substantial portion of these funds. These efforts either directly or indirectly support the Phoenix mission to assist people, primarily those with disabilities, to improve the quality of their life, in most cases through employment.
Q: What would you like the community to know about your team?
We approach our marketing campaigns and public relations efforts to Fly Huntsville as an opportunity to educate our community. It’s important for people to know that buying a ticket to fly from Huntsville is casting a vote for more nonstop routes and more air service for the routes we have. Airlines find growing markets attractive. We also want potential customers to think about the value of their time – we are close to home, and our latest campaign emphasizes the value of “Get to the Fun Faster.” Who wants to spend half of their vacation day just getting to the airport? We want passengers to think about the risks of driving hours to catch a flight at an out-of-town airport, too. Flights are more scarce this year, and they are full, so missing a flight because of an unforeseen traffic slow-down or stop might mean you don’t leave the airport at all for a day or more. Finally, we want our community to think about Huntsville International Airport when they are considering visiting desirable leisure destinations like Las Vegas, Orlando and Tampa. Breeze Airways offers nonstop service to these vacation spots at ultra-low fares making flying from HSV even more affordable and more convenient.
Q: There’s a lot more that happens at the Airport than just passenger travel. You also handle quite a bit of cargo!
As a non-profit service provider, Phoenix has licensed professionals leading accredited programs to assist individuals with disabilities in preparing, securing, and maintaining quality long-term employment.
As a manufacturer, Phoenix operates a modern facility in Southwest Huntsville, providing ISO-certified products to the U.S. Government, including parachute harnesses, interment flags, strapping, fire containment blankets and curtains, aircraft safety belts, combat vehicle seat cushions, and other canvas goods. These products represent customers such as the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Phoenix also provides various commercial kitting and packaging services.
Finally, Phoenix operates a Governmental Services division providing Custodial Services, Grounds Maintenance, Mail/Supply Room Operation, Administrative Support, and Commercial Shredding for the United States Army Garrison, Redstone Arsenal, and its 74 tenant organizations. In addition, services are provided to the Department of Justice (FBI and ATF), MDA, NASA, the United States Space Force Command, and numerous commercial customers in Huntsville, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, California, Alaska, and New Mexico.
As a result, Phoenix has annually provided quality employment opportunities to over 600 individuals with disabilities.
Q: Since we started these a few years ago, thank you for being an enthusiastic supporter of the Para-cycling races in Huntsville. Tell us why you’ve been involved every year?
Our relationship with the Chamber goes back decades, but none so telling as during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. Phoenix was asked to use our sewing capacity to make protective masks since none were available for local healthcare providers. We were able to produce 10,000 masks, with the help of Facebook, to make our doctors and nurses safer. The Huntsville Madison County Chamber was vital in realizing and brokering this multi-faceted solution.
Following this partnership, we were made aware of a lesser-known priority of the Chamber, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially concerning people with disabilities. Phoenix was asked to support and sponsor the first-ever Paracycling event in Huntsville. It was a fantastic opportunity as this initiative aligns perfectly with the Phoenix Mission and brings awareness to the contributions made by all people with disabilities. This was not a one-time event, as evidenced by the Chamber’s continuing commitment to Para-cycling, bringing two additional events to Huntsville, including a World Cup! At a recent press conference, the Chamber affirmed this commitment by announcing that the Union Cycliste Internationale and U.S. Paralympics Cycling have selected Huntsville as a 2026 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships site. This Sept. 4th through the 7th event will be bigger and better than ever, hosting over 600 international athletes with disabilities.
Having attended the last three events and seeing the magnitude of time, effort, and resources required, it is easy to see that the Chamber’s commitment goes far beyond simple support. Through its commitment, the Chamber has affirmed all people’s rights to view and participate in activities that have historically not offered access to people with disabilities.
Q: How has being part of the Huntsville Regional Economic Growth Initiative (HREGI) helped widen your circle/view?
Phoenix is a complex organization serving multiple customers with differing agendas. HREGI has allowed us to join our major customers face-to-face through its “Update” series and hear about new initiatives, priorities, or concerns. We specifically attend the Redstone Arsenal Update and State of the Schools events.
HREGI has also provided Phoenix with significant networking opportunities, as evidenced by our partnership during the coronavirus pandemic.
Q: What would you say to another company considering this type of investment?
I would strongly recommend Chamber membership and participation, but not before thoroughly analyzing immediate and long-term objectives. The Chamber is so diverse and offers so much that most organizations would be surprised at the number of ways they will align with your mission and objectives. Being a mission-based non-profit operating in a defense contractor world, I can speak to and affirm that the Chamber continues to offer so much that relates explicitly to Phoenix and our mission to serve a population of individuals who continue to be underserved!
This article appears in the October 2023 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.