Patrick Ross III

Deputy Director of Membership, Team Rubicon

SuperNova Award Category:

The Company: 

Team Rubicon is a nonprofit organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams to disasters across the globe. Founded in 2010 following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shook Haiti, Team Rubicon’s mission is two-fold: providing the greatest service for victims of disaster, and positively impacting the lives of our military veterans. Team Rubicon provides our veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a sense of purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and self-worth, from recognizing the impact one individual can make.

The Problem: 

We know that in order to make the biggest impact possible when disaster strikes, timeliness is key. However, the logistics of recruiting, training, managing, engaging and deploying military veterans and first responders was previously a very tedious task for Team Rubicon. Our process was highly manual, time-consuming and not scalable for the rapid growth we were experiencing. For example, for the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan disaster, we had to fly in ten regional leaders to Los Angeles to coordinate deployment for every individual on the deployment team – this meant checking social media, doing background checks, sending emails and making phone calls. It took four hours to recruit, organize and coordinate the deployment of each individual. With a membership base of nearly 35,000 and only 55 full-time staff, we knew we needed an advanced cloud-based technology solution to efficiently manage and train the hundreds of new volunteers joining our organization every week. 

The Solution: 

Hundreds of veterans sign up to volunteer with Team Rubicon each week, and we strive to get the right people on the scene of a disaster as quickly as possible so that we can deliver the most amount of aid and help the most amount of people. We knew that if we wanted to continue to grow, serve our community and provide a stellar volunteer experience, we needed a system that could keep up with our sheer velocity in volunteer processing, orientation and engagement.

In 2014, Team Rubicon received an invitation from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation to participate in its Strategic Partner Program, which provides nonprofits working in disaster relief, education and workforce development with access to Cornerstone’s software and consulting services. That same year, Team Rubicon implemented Cornerstone Learning, Cornerstone Connect and Cornerstone Extended Enterprise, and has since seen remarkable improvements across the board.

The Results: 

At the time of implementation, Cornerstone was still in the beginning phases of rolling out Cornerstone Extended Enterprise, its newest product at the time. We knew Cornerstone’s solution (which we’ve coined “Roll Call” for our team), even in its infancy, far surpassed our expectations for what this type of technology could do to help our organization. But, as with the introduction of any new technology or change of processes, there was a learning curve. From an internal perspective, we worked closely with Cornerstone’s product development team to maintain frequent communication and continually provide feedback to improve the product. Thanks to our close working relationship, we were able to help build the product into a customized solution that exceeded all of our needs as an organization.

For our external stakeholders, the system was much easier to navigate than our old system, and because of its ease-of-use there was little we had to do from an administrative or tech support standpoint to help familiarize and migrate users to our new system. Roll Call is seamlessly integrated with our website and is very intuitive.

Ultimately, with our new system, we’re set up for success and have effectively future proofed our organization. As we get faster and more efficient, we are able to surge more people with the appropriate skills to the right place at the right time using less resources. 


Since implementing Cornerstone for our volunteer base in May 2014, we have seen success across the board. In 2015 alone, with the help of Cornerstone, we deployed more than 1,300 veterans to 35 domestic and three international operations totaling more than 75,000 hours of on the ground disaster response.

Roll Call delivered critical baseline training to our nearly 8,000 new volunteers in 2015. Additionally, we had 287 volunteers complete Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, 215 volunteers complete a T3 (Tools, Techniques and Tactics) course, and 132 volunteers complete the ICS 300/400 (advanced level trainings for emergency and disaster responders).

With the help of Cornerstone, we have achieved a high level of operational success and accomplished the goals we set for ourselves, including:

  • Deliver critical training instantly to volunteers in any location and track their status for immediate deployment when disaster strikes.
  • Reduce individual volunteer recruiting and coordination time from 4 hours to 2 minutes.
  • Improve the volunteer experience through better communication and knowledge sharing, helping to build a sense of community both on scene and online.
  • Track and maximize volunteer participation in engagement and readiness events and trainings.
The Technology: 

Cornerstone Recruiting; Cornerstone Learning; Cornerstone Connect; Cornerstone Extended Enterprise

Disruptive Factor: 

With Cornerstone, we have effectively modernized disaster response. We worked as a team to build a customized solution that exceeded all of our needs as an organization. Unlike other aid organizations that take days or weeks to send relief, we are able to ramp up volunteers through online training and quickly mobilize highly-skilled teams for rapid deployments anywhere across the globe the moment a disaster strikes. As a nonprofit with limited resources and staff, this level of operational success and efficiency is rare. 

Shining Moment: 

After implementing Cornerstone, we got a call that we needed to mobilize a team for an op – and soon. We had two interns who could support me, but with Cornerstone we deployed a qualified team in a few minutes. We had zero misses. It was then that I realized how much time we were wasting on logistics. One of our operational principles is “Get Sh*t Done,” and with Cornerstone we can do just that, focusing on more strategic initiatives that really drive our organization forward.

About Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. The disaster relief organization offers veterans the opportunity to continue their service by helping those affected by disasters while regaining a sense of purpose, community and identity. For more about Team Rubicon, visit