Meet Aspen Murphy
The community relations professional WHO spearheadS more than 80 events a year
Aspen speaking to the dual enrollment students
Since hiring this charismatic, driven young professional, Marathon Petroleum Company has ramped up its outreach efforts to benefit the entire Port region.
Helming the community relations at Marathon Petroleum Corporation is Aspen Murphy, an energetic, native of Vacherie whose career took many exciting turns at high-profile companies before she felt her Louisiana roots pulling her back home, in part because she wanted to give back to the community.
After high school, Murphy attended Howard University in Washington, D.C, where she studied broadcast journalism and French. Upon graduating magna cum laude, Murphy began a career in communications, working for CNN, the Cannes Film Festival, Warner Brothers Music and others. Her experiences working with high-profile, fast-paced companies also prepared her to handle community relations for Marathon Petroleum n Garyville, LA — the third-largest refinery in the United States.
Murphy returned because she wanted to positively impact the area where she grew up — an area that she also praises for its resilience.
“I’ve worked through four natural disasters in six years,” she said, citing hurricanes, multiple tornadoes that affected the refinery, and the massive flood in August of 2016. “Each time, we’ve banded together to help not just our employees, but our community in need.”
“[Working at Marathon] is a wonderful opportunity to give back,” she said. “It’s almost like I’m a professional volunteer. I work with many nonprofits to help fundraise and organize activities that may not happen without Marathon’s support. It’s incredibly fulfilling.”
She explains that although a community relation has “always” been important to Marathon Petroleum, in recent years the company has ramped up its efforts. Murphy now spearheads and organizes around 80 annual events, including providing monetary donations, facilitating mentorship to area youth, and working alongside local nonprofits throughout the region.
Left: Aspen and SJB Parish Economic Development Director Jerry Jones: Andouille Festival October 2016 Middle & Right: Photos taken by Aspen in St. James Parish after the tornadoes in February 2016 when gators were provided to aid in search efforts.
Her former career in journalism has been particularly beneficial, she said. “Working in journalism prepares you to adapt to any situation, and it definitely helped me to prepare for the community. This job was created, and I’m the first person to hold this position.”
Among her main objectives are meetings with community stakeholders and figuring out the needs of the region’s citizens.
“You have to stay objective, and find out all sides of the story, then design a story based on the information you’ve obtained,” she explains. “I have to figure out what the members of the community need, then design a community relations strategic plan based on that.”
One highly anticipated event this year is the company’s inaugural career fair, set to take place this November. For the past several months, Murphy and her colleagues have been coordinating this event that intends to inspire seventh graders to consider joining the company after completing their education.
“All of the seventh graders in the St. John public schools will come on-site, and we will take them through ‘a day in the life’ of a Marathon Petroleum employee,” explains Murphy. This allows the students to meet and receive mentorship on areas from staff members in different departments, including engineering, administration, accounting, chemistry, and maintenance.
“At the end of the day, [the students] can decide which career path is the most interesting to them, and then we’ll give them further information that allows them to see what kind of degree they might need to go into the specific field,” that most appeals to them, Murphy said.
The company is motivated to not only retain the area’s population, but also to promote growth, and inspire the young residents by getting them to think about their future careers, and foster opportunities to motivate them to succeed in school.
Left: ESJHS Principal Tabari Smith, Aspen Murphy, Penny Freeman - SCLTC Dean, President Robottom and Superintendent Kevin George spoke to the students about the dual enrollment program in partnership with the St. John Parish School Board, SCLTC and MPC Middle: This was the second year that Marathon sponsored the Honor Roll Round Up, which invited honor roll students to a day at the carnival. Over 600 students in grades 1-12 were invited to the event. Right: On May 31, 2017, Sheriff Mike Tregre was presented a $7,500 check for the St. John Sheriff’s Office Body Armor Fund from Marathon Petroleum. This contribution was the result of the LRD being named a Finalist for Marathon’s 2016 President’s Award for Responsible Care. The Sheriff’s Office has raised $32,000 of their $75,000 goal. On hand for the check presentation were (front, l to r) Deputy Jenni Estraca, Aspen Murphy and Megan Hudson of Marathon, Sheriff Mike Tregre, Marathon General Manager Tracy Case, Deputy David Samson, and Chief Steve Guidry; and (back, l to r), Bill Simoni of Marathon, Sgt. Quentin Nicholas and Fritz Kin of Marathon.
“We want the kids who grow up here to stay here, and we want to work as hard as we can to encourage them to learn from us, and find something here at Marathon that they really like,” Murphy said.
Another one of Marathon Petroleum’s most beneficial yearly events is an annual “Backpack Extravaganza,” which also helps younger children in the area. “We work with several entities in the parish, including the event organizer Blessed to be a Blessing and St. John United Way, along with elected officials and the district attorney’s office,” Murphy said.
During this time, the company donates school supplies and the event provides free health screenings. The event also provides pupils with backpacks, snacks, drinks and games in a festive atmosphere that increases excitement among youth for their upcoming school year. In its early stages, Marathon Petroleum’s backpack program benefited about 90 children; this year, Murphy said by partnering with the organizations mentioned above, the Backpack Extravaganza helped more than a thousand children from around the region.
This fall, Murphy and her colleagues at Marathon Petroleum will maintain a busy schedule with a variety of upcoming events, including sponsoring the Veterans Day Parade at the Southeast War Veterans Home and serving meals at the Council on Aging.
While Murphy undoubtedly helms these outreach efforts, she humbly acknowledges that her colleagues also offer tremendous help and insight.
“I work with 10 department managers,” she explains. “Each department puts on an event, so that way we can get each department to go out into the community.” She said she is impressed by the creative ideas that many of her colleagues develop.
In addition to their daily job duties, Marathon Petroleum’s employees often brainstorm ways in which they can help others. For example, an employee in the safety department came up with the idea for an “Adopt-A-Troop” initiative during the holiday season. This year will be Marathon Petroleum’s fourth year delivering holiday packages to Louisiana troops stationed abroad. Additionally, the company also delivers turkeys to people’s houses during Thanksgiving and provides thousands of meals.
Murphy is also proud of the company’s ongoing disaster relief efforts. During the Baton Rouge area flooding last year, Marathon Petroleum donated $250,000, served nearly 1,000 meals and donated supplies for more than 200 families following flooding natural disaster. It also boosts morale by contributing to the region’s celebratory side; for example, Marathon Petroleum is also the title sponsor of the Andouille Festival this October.
Murphy concludes, “We have a huge footprint in the region, and we want to help the people here as much as we can.”
By Sarah Ravits