Meet the women working in Amazon Operations who are stepping up during this critical time to make sure the company meets customer needs

Home    Amazon    Insight

Amazon Operations women meet customer needs during COVID-19

Amazon Operations women meet customer needs during COVID-19

 May 11, 2020

The women who work in Amazon's operations network are making sure customers can get what they need while the COVID-19 pandemic makes sheltering a matter of both personal and public health.

Longtime Amazonians and brand-new employees are on the job, as the company welcomes people temporarily out of work due to COVID-19's toll on industries such as hospitality, restaurants, and travel. Amazon has added countless new jobs since March to help meet customer demand and assist existing employees with fulfilling orders for essential products.

Meet some of the women who are stepping up during these unprecedented times.

Dallas Austin, Edison, New Jersey 

(Pictured above)

Being a working mom is hard. Being a working mom to six kids is harder. Dallas Austin somehow brings unwavering positivity to the challenge of being a working mom to six kids during a global pandemic.

Dallas, whose youngest is a toddler and oldest is 20, works as a Seasonal Learning Trainer at Amazon’s LGA9 fulfillment center in Edison, New Jersey. Her alarm clock rings at 4:30 a.m., signaling that it’s time to get herself ready for work while simultaneously getting 2-year-old Lolo fed, diapered, and dressed so his grandmother to take him to daycare. Dalla's oldest three take responsibility for the household when she leaves for work.

She spends her days supporting over 120 ambassadors who train some of the 175,000 new employees joining Amazon to fulfill customer orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m proud to be working right now,” she says. “I know others, especially high-risk individuals, are counting on us to deliver items they need so they don’t have to leave their homes.”

After work, Dallas picks up Lolo and returns home to a flurry of homeschooling, playtime, and housework while doing everything she can to keep her kids safe, healthy, and happy.

“I’m reminded with every hug, smile, and laugh just how precious time is,” says Dallas. “We laugh a lot and that always helps.”

Johany Castillo, Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Amazon women

At work, Johany Castillo manages the schedules of up to 250 associates to keep Amazon’s operations moving. At home, she’s helping her 7-year-old with school assignments and housework. All this, while 21 weeks pregnant.

Johany says the key to keeping it all balanced is a positive attitude and taking each day as it comes. That applies even more so during the pandemic. Castillo knows her role is critical to helping people get the items they need.

“I feel like an essential worker. It makes me appreciate my job even more,” she said. And when she thinks of the customers: “We’ve got their backs.”

Heather Mayberry, Phoenix, Arizona 

Amazon women workers

As a child, Heather Mayberry was wowed by paramedics and the work they do to help people in their most difficult moments. It's what inspired her to ultimately chose a career focused on taking action to keep people safe and healthy.

Today, as a member of one of the world's largest Employee Health and Safety teams, Heather is at the forefront of Amazon’s response to COVID-19. That's meant implementing 150 process improvements since the start of the pandemic. "My focus is doing everything I can to protect those who work at Amazon, so we can all go home safely to our families each day," she said.

Heather started at Amazon nearly a dozen years ago, as an entry level associate. "When I was 19, and my son was 8 months old, I wanted to find a good job that would allow me to support my son and myself," she said. She's been promoted several times since, and earned her emergency medical technician certification in her spare time: "Amazon has allowed me to grow and build a solid career that, to this day, still allows me to provide for my family."

Cherita Washington, St. Louis, Missouri 

Women working during Covid 19

Along with all the changes brought on by COVID-19, Cherita Washington is grateful for what's stayed the same at the Amazon sortation center where she works. "I'm blessed to be with a team of people who care about each other," she said. "We check on each other, even on the weekends."

It's a sense of camaraderie she felt when she interviewed for her job, and then experienced more directly in January when her grandmother died and her daughter's father suffered the first in a series of health problems.

"Then the pandemic happened," she said. "Almost every other day, I was checked on by peers and upper leadership, making sure I was OK—with my daughter's dad in his condition and local schools shutting down. Everyone was ready to react and support, just in case. People would help me with my work if I needed a few minutes to clear my head."

Cherita expressed particular appreciation for all the protocols in her workplace that make it possible "for everyone to be safe during social distancing." "You don't have to think about it, and managers have done a great job with keeping us safe," she said. "Amazon is the best career move I've had in a long time."

Jesi Henry, Thornton, CO 

Women workers Amazon

For Jesi Henry, her job at Amazon’s Denver fulfillment center is essential in every sense.

Her husband manages a restaurant affected by Colorado's stay-at-home order, and the couple can't know whether the economic fallout from COVID-19 will leave him with a job to come back to.

Jesi is aware that the work she does—picking and packing Amazon orders—is crucial to people who are staying home. "To be able to provide some kind of normalcy and sense of relief that they're going to be able to get the things they truly need right now gives me such a sense of pride," she explains.

In her community and beyond, Jesi also sees the difference made by the new Amazon jobs created. She says: "Amazon has stepped up to give people the ability to continue to pay their bills, expenses, have health insurance coverage, in the hopes that perhaps when the dust clears, they're going to be able to come out on this right side up."

Bri Tye, Katy, Texas 

Amazon delivery

Bri Tye was only looking for a temporary job when she first stepped inside an Amazon fulfillment center in 2013 as an associate in the receiving department. What she found is a career. She's worked at seven Amazon buildings in five states, and today she's the general manager of HOU3, a fulfillment center in Katy, Texas.

Bri's site grew in the last month as Amazon hired for open roles to meet the unprecedented customer demand due to COVID-19. "I have never been more proud of being an Amazonian, and the actions and responsibilities that come with it, than I am today," she said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Amazon has implemented more than 150 safety-related process changes. Bri just added one more for the over 1,000 employees at HOU3. She's dedicated a team of social distancing ambassadors who promote safe practices among their peers. "This is truly a time that signifies that no matter your job title, you can be a leader," she said. "One of my favorite quotes is 'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.'"

Katie Smith, Robbinsville, New Jersey 

Katy Smith

Katie Smith's world had come to a stop. Recently laid off from her job in the food industry, she was already struggling to get back on her feet. Then COVID-19 hit, bringing hiring in her field to a standstill. When she learned about Amazon's job openings, "I put in an application, and before I knew it, I was here working," she said.

Katie now helps manage inventory as it comes into the fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. She said she's reassured by the safety procedures in her new workplace. "It's really cool what they're doing right now," she says. "When you walk in, they take your temperature, and if you're outside for a break and come back in, they take it again. And they're passing out masks for us at the front door." Katie is happy to play a part in delivering for customers during the outbreak. "I love it. I couldn't have asked for a better job."

Darby Griffin, Haslet, TX

Women USA

The Amazon fulfillment center in Dallas, Texas is a sizable departure from Darby Griffin's preschool classroom where she's taught for the past three years. With school closed during the outbreak, Darby recently started working at Amazon as an inbound associate, helping manage new inventory. "It was a surreal moment after I got my badge and I walked into the building," said Darby. "It suddenly hit me, that I was moving into a new chapter of my life. I've only ever worked with kids, so this was a big change."

Darby is hopeful she'll be able to return to the preschool that she loves. "These kids are such pure souls, and they deserve the best. It's strange not seeing them every day, and I definitely do miss them." For now, her new role at Amazon is helping to bridge the gap financially, and she’s confident it’s the right fit.

"I chose Amazon because I have friends that work for Amazon and they love it," Darby comments.

Maria Lopez, Katy, TX 

Women at Amazon

Maria Lopez, a single mother of five who's been at Amazon for two years, wonders how she'd be making ends meet if she worked somewhere that needed to shut down during the pandemic. "I am really excited that Amazon is a company that is allowing its doors to stay open for me to come in and work," she said. "I appreciate the extra time that they're offering to us."

In her quality assurance role at the fulfillment center in Katy, Texas, Maria works to make sure associates are healthy and safe, and customer orders are picked and packed correctly. She said it feels more important than ever during this crisis "to make sure we're getting essential goods out to our customers."

Many opportunities available at Amazon

In addition to creating many new jobs in the operations network, Amazon is investing $500 million globally to increase pay for its teams during the coronavirus pandemic.

Apply now or learn more about how Amazon is supporting its employees, customers, and communities.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

Share this page:

   Linkedin      Twitter      Instagram     Facebook      Press release 

Join our women's careers community