Jefferson Award
Coca-Cola is a Jefferson Awards Foundation Champion, which allows the company to recognize employees on a national platform for their community involvement. Last month, Steve “Mac” McMurray, a Plano, Texas-based franchise manager for Coca-Cola North America, was honored for his commitment to youth development at the 46th Annual Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Last year, McMurray volunteered more than 1,500 hours through his work with the Boy Scouts; designing and creating six sets for two youth theatres; and as board chairman for Plano Children’s Theatre. He also led the seating construction and fundraising efforts for Plano Children’s Theatre’s new performance spaces.

McMurray's passion for the arts stems from his kids’ involvement in children’s theatre and a personal story where the arts helped save his son from taking his own life. That life-changing moment sparked his dedication to making sure youth in his community feel valued and confident through the arts.

We caught up with McMurray to talk about his role at Coca-Cola and his inspiring involvement in his community:

Can you tell us a little about who you are and your role at Coca-Cola?

I was born and raised in Nevada, but have been in Dallas for the last nine years. I came to Coke as a merchandiser in 1985, but left for a while to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity with a trucking company. I have been back with Coca-Cola for the last 20 years. In my role as a franchise manager, I work with family-owned franchise bottlers in small markets across the country. I help them build capabilities and figure out how to apply larger company initiatives to their smaller operations.

What was your road to the Jefferson Awards like?

Jefferson Award
Getting nominated for the award was mostly a complete shock. I’ve been volunteering for children’s causes for a while, and while raising my own children, I got involved in their activities because I wanted them to see me supporting them and giving back so they can do that for their kids one day.

Starting last year, Coca-Cola wanted us to keep track and let them know how we are donating our time. I’m active in the Boy Scouts, I was the board chairman for a youth theatre and have built sets for local theatre, but I didn’t know how much time I actually donated until I started writing it all down. Once I submitted everything, I heard back and was told that I was the Coca-Cola Volunteer of the Year and had been nominated for a Jefferson Award. I had no expectations that that would happen. I thought I was just adding my story to the collection of everyone else’s.

What has your involvement in theatre taught you?

Jefferson Award
When your kids are little and they get involved in theatre, you’re just happy to see them up there and being confident in front of people. As a business guy, my first thoughts were that my kids are going to be confident enough to speak in front of a group when they enter business at some point. But there is so much more being taught and instilled in the theatre. They’ve found a tight-knit family that literally saved my son’s life after he experienced bullying in school. They’ve learned the value of teamwork and how to improvise when things go wrong – and in life, things go wrong a lot more than they go right. It’s just so much more than learning how to stand on a stage and talk to people.

What has winning the Jefferson Award and Coca-Cola Volunteer of the Year meant to you?

Jefferson Award
A few years ago, Coke came up with an initiative called “Live Positive,” that encouraged employees to get involved in their communities. That made me think about what my legacy will be. If I were to die tomorrow, I would want people to think that I was a good father, supportive and that I worked hard for my community, and then I would want them to say, “Oh yeah, and he worked for Coke.”

Equating my job at Coca-Cola with being a good member of the community really made things click for me. There’s a lot of great people doing great things in our communities, and I’ve never really considered myself special for being involved. I’m just grateful to work for a company that pushes us to be active in our communities and celebrates when we are.