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Many major companies have chosen to stay quiet on the abortion debate, but Yelp and its CEO Jeremy Stoppelman have chosen a different path.

The San Francisco-based online reviews site is among the handful of companies covering travel costs for employees and their dependents who must travel out of state to obtain an abortion, a thorny topic that’s poised to become the chatter of many boardrooms if the Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 Roe v.

Wade decision. If Roe falls, roughly half of U.S. states are expected to ban or put greater restrictions on abortion.

Antitrust reform is another big topic for the 44-year-old Stoppelman, who’s been a vocal critic of Google and what he sees as the company’s monopolistic practices. He spoke recently with The Associated Press about Yelp’s abortion stance, the COVID-19 pandemic and antitrust legislation. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: The company has come out very forcefully in support of abortion rights. Do you have any fears that it’s going to put it in the crosshairs of conservative politicians, especially in light of what happened with Disney in Florida?

A: There’s always a risk with taking a stand. But our calculus is: this is one worth taking. It’s really important to our employees, especially our female employees. And I think it does have quite broad support. I’ve seen polling that suggests north of 70% of people in America feel that women should have the right to choose, along with the collaboration of their doctor. As a business leader, you’re often doing things that attract attention one way or the other. When you feel strongly, and feel like it’s the right thing to do — and the right thing for the company — you just have to move forward.

Q: Why do you think many major companies have stayed quiet on this issue?

A: I think it’s really disappointing to say the least. If you go back prior to the Trump administration, there was a lot of advocacy on the part of CEOs and the companies behind them. They were speaking out on important issues, whether it was bathroom bills or on small businesses trying to discriminate. There were lots of companies that were eager to stand up. Perhaps what happened was in the Trump era, there was an element of risk and reaction from the administration. I think it created a bit of a silencing effect when it comes to corporate leaders speaking out. I don’t think that changed our behavior.

But certainly, a lot of the usual suspects have been quiet. Obviously, we’ve long been speaking out on various social issues, and we continue to be involved. But we used to have a lot of friends speaking out with us. And we’d like to encourage those that are considered it, or on the fence, to join in.

Q: You’ve been an advocate of antitrust reform. What do you think are the prospects of getting something done in Congress this year?

A: There’s a number of bills in Congress right now. Very promising ones. And I think the general tone in Washington is a sea change from the past. There is a particular bill by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar that we support, which is anti self-preferencing. One of the most egregious behaviors of Big Tech is when they have a competing property or product of their own, they interject and steer consumers away. And I think that’s very destructive to competition. When we look at it through our analysis, we think Senate Majority Leader Schumer has the votes to get it passed. So we really think it’s time to bring it to the floor. And he’s made a suggestion it will happen early summer, so we look forward to that.

Q: The administration has said there could be about 100 million COVID-19 cases later this year. How are you anticipating that’s going to affect the business?

A: Our big move was to go remote. So we decided in 2020 that Yelp would be remote-first. Surprisingly, perhaps, it’s been really successful for us. Our employees are feeling really good about it. There’s more time for family and hobbies. And we’ve seen continuing productivity.

That’s been our great adaptation and one that will extend far beyond pandemic. I’ve tweeted — perhaps controversially about this — but I believe that remote work is fundamentally a better way of working. It’s a better operating system for modern businesses. It’s a disruptive innovation. Since industrialization, we’ve had one way of working: going into an office. The drive on average for Americans is over half an hour each way, unpaid. And that seems very inefficient and outdated. Granted, it wasn’t until recently that video conferencing really provided a serious competitor to the traditional office. But I do think more companies will embrace remote. The advantages are too high.

Q: And how are you anticipating the surge in COVID cases to impact your business if Americans become more hesitant about going out to eat? How are you expecting the site to be impacted?

A: For restaurant and retail, we have seen continued recovery for Q1. If there’s a terrible variant, people get scared and huddle inside. People are going to go to stores and restaurants less. When it gets safer, people go out more. That shows up in our data.

So it can have effects on the business. But we have been in kind of recovery mode for some time now, and certainly people are trying to get on with their lives and move past the virus. But it’s hard to predict whether the virus will truly fade into the background, much like other viruses or if it will have some new twists and turns that we didn’t expect.

One thing that’s always been true about Yelp is that our platform is broad-based so when consumer spending shifts, say from restaurants to something else, that other category is often captured somewhere else on Yelp. We saw that during the height of the pandemic when consumers spent more time at home, they tended to spend more on home services. Yelp has been particularly resilient through the pandemic and past recessions, in part, because of our horizontal platform.

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OUTREACH BULLETINS: New CEO named at START Treatment and Recovery Centers

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Jonnel Doris was appointed CEO of Start Treatment & Recovery Centers (START), a leading healthcare organization, offering addiction treatment, behavioral health services.

Including behavioral and biomedical research, which has served New York City’s disenfranchised, economically challenged, and minority communities since 1969. Doris most recently served as Commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and subcommittee Co-Chair of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE). He replaces START CEO Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., who is moving on to other endeavors, after a 10-year tenure.

START, founded 53 years ago by trailblazing researcher and behavioral sciences pioneer Dr. Benny Primm, is dedicated to transforming the perception of addiction and behavioral health disorders by bringing dignity and respect to the lives, families, and communities it serves. The organization has a longstanding history of advocating for communities of color, promoting health equity through its impact on national policy, and providing treatment guidelines for substance use disorders, viral hepatitis, and HIV. To date, START has served over 53,000 patients at multiple centers across New York City.

“I was raised in a community where so many were destroyed by addiction and incarceration. So, it has been an honor to lead an organization that provides services that communities like mine had so desperately needed,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., former CEO of START. “But the time has come for me to retire. I am thrilled to pass the baton to Jonnel, an award-winning business leader with a proven history of success in creating positive change and a deep commitment to equity in all forms.”
In his new role, Doris will spearhead an expansion of START with unprecedented investments in mental health services and START’s nationally recognized, cutting-edge behavioral and biomedical research and healthcare services.

“The fight to eradicate disparities and inequity is personal for me. Being raised in a family of social workers who continue to fight to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities by addressing the root causes of their suffering, I am proud to lead an organization that provides an integrated, compassionate, evidence-based approach to care,” said Doris. “With the support of our dedicated staff and extensive alliances, we can improve access to much needed healthcare services and transform the perception of addiction and behavioral health disorders.”

“Our extensive research capacity enables us to provide cutting-edge care,” said Dr. Felicia Ivey, Board Chair, and Therapist at Mind-Body and Inner-Self Mental Health Counseling. “The START Board is a powerhouse of talented, well-connected, and progressive leaders. Our agenda is to end the disparities in healthcare for people of color and with Mr. Doris at the helm we’ll be able to maximize our impact.”

She further emphasized, “As the new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Doris will carry the torch from the previous Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., to lead the organization into a new era. Mr. Doris’s impressive experience in governance and business, where he’s achieved numerous awards and recognition, make him the perfect fit for this position. Mr. Doris is a proven leader with a commitment to equity and providing essential services and opportunities for those in need.”

“The appointment of Jonnel Doris as CEO of START Treatment and Recovery Centers is a game changer. Jonnel’s proven ability to think outside the box and successfully challenge many systemic barriers that impede the progress of individuals and communities made vulnerable will be a win for the agency, and more importantly, individuals and families suffering with addiction,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. I look forward to collaborating with him to address head-on the pervasive health disparities and inequities communities of color across our city experience daily.”

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our city and while serving in the role of Commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services, Jonnel Doris spearheaded our city’s efforts to ensure equity in the economic recovery and support of businesses in need,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “As the new CEO of START, I am confident Jonnel will bring the same level of commitment and dedication to addressing the rising opioid addiction and other health disparities that have plagued communities of color for far too long and ensure adequate resources, services, and research to help individuals and families feel supported while getting the treatment they need for themselves and their loved ones along the path to recovery.”

“Throughout his career Jonnel has worked successfully with communities across the City and State, building key alliances and collaborations within our communities and beyond. We have no doubt he will do the same here at START,” said New York State Senator Kevin Parker.

“As they move into this next phase, START is in great hands. Jonnel Doris knows how to collaborate and help organizations grow,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, “I look forward to working closely with Jonnel in my role as Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services and as a member of the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention.”

“The announcement of Jonnel Doris as the new CEO of START is a win for all New Yorkers. Jonnel will be ready on day one to take the reins and continue the excellent work done by Dr. Benny Primm. I wish you much success,” said New York Assembly Member Inez Dickens.

“START has historically played an integral role in expanding access to care for underserved communities, and its selection of Jonnel Doris as CEO represents an exciting new phase for the organization’s growth,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “As someone who knows, firsthand, how important it is to fight for those who need equitable access to critical services and resources, Jonnel will ensure essential healthcare is provided to those in our communities who need it most. I look forward to partnering with him and START to advance a healthier New York City for all New Yorkers.”

“Jonnel Doris has been committed to equity throughout his career and most notably during his time as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. The exceptional work being done by the dedicated team at START is needed now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the demand for mental health services,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with Jonnel and the START team at the three Manhattan-based centers to ensure quality care is accessible to all.”

“Congratulations to START for selecting Jonnel Doris as their CEO. I look forward to partnering with him and expanding on the great work that START began right here in Brooklyn over 50 years ago,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
“Jonnel Doris has been a strong advocate for Queens and the entire City of New York, most recently in his role as NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner. His partnership has been critical in ensuring small businesses across the borough were able to survive the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to his tenure as the CEO of START,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I am deeply confident in Jonnel’s ability to bring the same level of dedication when it comes to addressing our city’s mental health crisis as he did for our small businesses at the height of the pandemic.”

“Congratulations to my friend, Jonnel Doris on his appointment as the new CEO of START Treatment and Recovery Centers. During my time in the City Council, I had the honor to work closely with Jonnel as the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. I witnessed his commitment, compassion and dedication to supporting and uplifting our small businesses and merchants in NYC. I know he will bring the same passion and purpose to this new role and lead efforts to help our marginalized and vulnerable New Yorkers facing addictions and drug use. Jonnel’s leadership for such a time as this is critical as we continue to recover from COVID-19, face health disparities and lack of access and opportunities for our clients. As Bronx Borough President, I look forward to building relationships, expanding partnerships and working to invest in programs, resources and creative approaches to bring healthcare, mental health, trauma-informed care and wraparound services to Bronx residents and families in need. Congratulations CEO Jonnel Doris and all the very best in your new role,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Jonnel’s steadfast leadership during the pandemic and his compassion for the most vulnerable in our society is why he is the best person to continue leading START,” said New York City Council Member and Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “In Jonnel, individuals overcoming addiction and mental health challenges have a dedicated ally to move this work forward.”
“Congratulations to START for selecting Jonnel Doris as their CEO. As someone who knows, firsthand, how important it is to fight for those who need critical services, I know that Jonnel is up to the task. And I look forward to partnering with him and expanding on the work that began right here in Fort Greene over 50 years ago,” said New York City Council Member Crystal Hudson.

“In addition to investing a landmark amount of resources into existing START programs, we will expand innovative initiatives that address the pervasive social determinants of health, such as housing insecurity and unemployment” said Doris.
“Congratulations to Jonnel and START. We share a vision to advance equal opportunities for families and communities often left behind. I couldn’t be more excited to see how Jonnel will bridge the equity gaps within our city and beyond,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr. CEO of Robinhood. I am confident in Jonnel’s commitment and ability to create awe-inspiring change and we look forward to seeing him lead this historic organization building community trust, prioritizing engagement, and collaboration, while increasing access to the vital healthcare services for those in need.”

“START, the people it serves and all New Yorkers are fortunate to have Jonnel’s innovative energy and leadership at this critical time for health equity and wellness,” said Melissa Berman, President and CEO, Rockefeller Partners.
“Congratulations to Jonnel who has dedicated his career to ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities. The patients at START will benefit from his focus on eradicating health disparities and creating innovative solutions to the challenges we face today.” said Melvin Galloway, Chief Operating Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation”.

As Commissioner of SBS Doris oversaw several Industry Partnerships including, The New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH), a public-private Industry Partnership formed to address the healthcare industry challenges of today and tomorrow. Doris led several focused healthcare initiatives including, the Home Health Aide Training Program in partnership with NYC College of Technology, City College and NYACH to support the City’s long-term care sector during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Doris also launched the Resource Navigator Training to support the City’s Test and Trace Corps and led recruitment and training for the Vaccine For All initiative. This was critical to ensuring all clinical and non-clinical staff were ready to serve with a priority focus on residents in the 33 TRIE neighborhoods.

“Congratulations to Jonnel on his appointment as the new CEO of START. As Commissioner of NYC Small Business Services during the pandemic, he led several innovative healthcare initiatives such as: Resource Navigator Training Program to support the City’s Test and Trace Corps, the Home Health Aide Training Initiative to support the Long-Term Care sector during COVID and led recruitment and training for the Vaccine For All Initiative,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Former NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Jonnel’s commitment to equity of access to healthcare will ensure that resources are provided to those who need it the most.”

“Congratulations to Jonnel Doris. Organizations like START are important in supplementing addiction treatment offered at NYC hospitals.” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President & CEO, NYC Health & Hospitals. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and support of START and the communities they serve.”

“Throughout his career Jonnel has demonstrated a deep commitment to equity fighting for individuals who are most vulnerable. Like Jonnel, during the pandemic, START was instrumental in helping New Yorkers get the support they needed,” said K. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with START with Jonnel at the helm increasing access to vital healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“I am extraordinarily excited that we have Jonnel at the helm as the new CEO of START. His strong experience and relationships, as well as clear long-standing dedication to the health and well-being of New Yorkers is sure to take the organization to great heights going forward,” stated Jean T. Stennett, Board Vice Chair, and Vice President of Oncology Services at Holy Name Medical Center.

“During the pandemic, we have witnessed firsthand how racial inequity in healthcare can impact communities of color, including small business owners, workers, and immigrants who form the very backbone of our City’s culture and our country’s economy, but we also realize this has also been a contributing factor to the 44% increase in overdose deaths involving opioids. Based on this evidence across the five boroughs, START instituted new telehealth protocols and innovations designed to reach our patients where they are,” said Dr. Joyce G. Gholson, Medical Director and Interim Vice President of Medical and Nursing at START. “Mr. Doris’s vision is to provide equitable access to care by expanding wrap-around services designed to address the historic perception, stigma, and disparities evidenced in communities of color.”

“Under Jonnel’s effective leadership during his tenure with both New York State and the City of New York, disenfranchised business communities of color have received billions of dollars in contracts. As a result, these historically excluded business owners now have the opportunity to purchase homes and acquire better educational opportunities and healthcare options for their respective families. I can think of no other effective leader than Jonnel Doris in leading this much needed and historical institution,” said Michael Garner, Chief Diversity Officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“I commend START on their excellent choice for CEO. Jonnel is certainly up to the challenge of building on the great work of Dr. Primm,” said Aldrin Enis, President, NYC Chapter of One Hundred Black Men. “I look forward to what’s in store for them and our communities. Congratulations Jonnel.”

“Congratulations to Jonnel for assuming this critical role, and to START Treatment & Recovery Centers for its selection of a transformative, mission-driven leader. During our time together in New York City government, I saw Jonnel achieve meaningful results, driving the City to operate more equitably, broaden access to economic opportunity, and better support residents and businesses before and through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. I have no doubt that Jonnel will continue to deliver for New Yorkers in his new capacity at START.” said Matt Klein, Chief Program and Impact Officer at Robin Hood.

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