Community, Empathy, and Transparency | Leadership Lessons

May 21, 2021  • Aspen Global Leadership Network


Austin Ramirez (Henry Crown Fellow) is CEO of the manufacturing company HUSCO in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – a company that specializes in high performance hydraulic and electro-mechanical components. 

Like many leaders across the globe, Austin faced tough decisions when he had to lay-off a portion of employees and challenges as his workforce transitioned to working from home. Although the company was experiencing hardship, employees of HUSCO still figured out a way to assist their community. They came together to start MaskForce: a consortium that designed, developed, and produced a reusable face mask that was distributed to thousands of health care workers in need of PPE. 

“…seeing people working out of their homes, seeing people deal with loss, and still figure out how to go on with their day-to-day lives, has added a real spark of empathy that I hope I can keep burning hot in the years to come.”

In episode four of Leadership Lessons, Austin shares how a culture of innovation and community at HUSCO made for the perfect backdrop for the success of Maskforce, as well as how he’s led with empathy and transparency through the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Austin Ramirez is President and CEO of Husco International, a privately-held engineering and manufacturing company. During his tenure as CEO the company has tripled in size to $500M and received recognition as Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year. An engaged citizen of Milwaukee with a passion for urban education, Austin has served on several education-focused nonprofit boards and is a co-founder of St. Augustine Preparatory Academy, a K-12 faith-based school serving 1,300 low-income students on Milwaukee’s south side. He is also a founder and co-chair of Democracy Found, a non-partisan political reform organization focused on implementing open primaries and ranked-choice voting. He is a 2018 Henry Crown Fellow.

The Henry Crown Fellowship Program is the Aspen Institute’s flagship Fellowship challenging entrepreneurial leaders, primarily in the U.S. business sector, to make a difference in the world.

Leadership Lessons – a Video Series from the Aspen Global Leadership Network

The impacts of COVID-19 continue to challenge our communities. However, through these challenges, there’s a lot to be learned. In “Leadership Lessons” hear from leaders who have stepped up in new ways and remained steadfast in their values through this crisis. How did they make the tough decisions? How have they changed as leaders? Tune in and gain top insights from values-driven leaders – Fellows in the Aspen Global Leadership Network – who are battling trade-offs, creating rapid responses to community needs, sharpening new skills, and more.

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