SAN FRANCISCO – Lynn C. Fritz, a San Francisco entrepreneur with a mission to help aid agencies speed relief to the neediest victims of natural disasters, is the recipient of the first California Prize for Service and the Common Good established by the University of San Francisco.
The prize from the Jesuit-run university comes with a $10,000 award and a handcrafted medal. It will be given each year to a person who creates advancements or innovations in either the public or the private sector on behalf of underserved people.
Fritz founded the Fritz Institute in 2001. Through its BayPrep initiative, which seeks to improve disaster preparedness in the San Francisco Bay Area, the institute works with aid agencies to eliminate delays and confusion affecting institutional responses to humanitarian and natural disasters.
“The purpose is to develop standards of preparedness for organizations that will be supporting the most vulnerable populations, which has never been done before,” Fritz said. “It has been top down.”
Fritz saw the impact of inadequate disaster preparation during his career as chairman and CEO of the Fritz Cos., a global logistics solutions organization with 10,000 employees in 120 countries.
“We have found through all our years overseas that if it isn’t a bottom-up approach with people on the ground, it isn’t effective,” he said.
In San Francisco, for example, human services organizations are crucial partners in disaster planning. Such organizations as Meals on Wheels, St. Anthony Dining Room and the San Francisco Food Bank know the needs of vulnerable individuals in their service areas and can pinpoint the help they need amid the government chaos that tends to follow a major disaster in the first days.
A University of San Francisco search committee picked Fritz for the prize after evaluating nominations from throughout California.
The university wanted to honor an individual who is a product of Jesuit education and who exemplifies the ideals of Jesuit education.
Fritz is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco and Georgetown University in Washington.
“Lynn Fritz is the perfect choice,” said Jesuit Father Stephen Privett, president of the University of San Francisco. “Lynn represents a very successful business person who has put his business knowledge and technical skills in the service of the most vulnerable.”
Fritz was to be honored at a May 1 dinner hosted by the University of San Francisco. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the university.