NIB associated nonprofit agency Bosma Enterprises packages and ships more than half a billion exam and surgical gloves a year, so the need for speed and accuracy is critical. The agency got both in Emily Kanis, the 2021 national Peter J. Salmon Award winner.
The award, which honors employees who excel in their positions at NIB associated agencies, is named for the late Dr. Peter J. Salmon, who was instrumental in the passage of the Wagner O-Day Act and the formation of NIB.
Kanis enrolled in a Bosma rehabilitation program after graduating from the Indiana School for the Blind in Indianapolis. The timing couldn’t have been better: Bosma was about to move to larger facilities and expand its workforce, and Kanis was looking for a job.
She started at Bosma in 2006, working on the medical glove packaging line. Today, she not only keeps up the pace, she sets it, despite having the use of only one hand and being legally blind.
Kanis started out packing gloves, taping boxes, and loading pallets. Today, she oversees quality control on the line because she has an uncanny ability to identify noncompliant boxes and pull them before they ship, “Nothing gets past me,” she says.
Always on the lookout for a new challenge, a few years ago Kanis also started working at The Bistro, Bosma’s breakfast and lunch café for employees. “I do everything at The Bistro — the cash register, stocking, getting lunches ready, answering the phone, taking orders,” explains Kanis. “I really enjoy it.”
Pursuing a personal goal of learning to speak more confidently in front of others, she became involved in the agency’s Toastmasters group and has since worked with a coworker to present Lunch and Learn sessions on healthy eating as part of Bosma’s Healthy Work initiative. She also introduced Bosma President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Mittman at a company-wide event, something she says she never would have done before joining Toastmasters.
Kanis, who frequently works long days, admits she sometimes surprises even herself with what she can accomplish. Her can-do spirit and willingness to give anything a try make her an invaluable team member. “I don’t look at what I can’t do,” says Kanis. “I focus on what I can do — which is actually quite a bit more than you’d think.”
Yet despite all her accomplishments and dedication, Kanis remains humble.
“When we announced at a companywide meeting that Emily had won the award, I went to personally congratulate her and her parents, who we had invited to the meeting” says Mittman. “We had been chatting for maybe 45 seconds when Emily looked at me and said she had to get back to work.”
Emily’s mother, Amy Kanis, says her daughter “has always been really down to earth about all of her accomplishments.”
Mittman praises Emily as one of the agency’s most flexible employees. “She can float wherever we need her on any given day, and she’s happy to do it. I don’t think Emily has ever had a bad day.”
“She’s a shining light,” says Mittman. “There is no one who has done more or cares more about others, the organization, and the mission than Emily.”
Click here to meet all of the nominees for the 2021 Peter J. Salmon Employee of the Year award.