During the 1970s, a small group of Red Cross retirees in Florida began meeting, simply as a way to keep in touch. Before long similar gatherings popped up in the Washington, D.C. area, on the West Coast and in other parts of the country.

The groups soon learned that Red Cross retirees nationwide had similar concerns and were interested in the same issues affecting the quality of retirement life. So in 1976 the Florida group incorporated as the Association of American Red Cross (Association) retirees. Membership was soon extended to other groups; a newsletter was begun, and formal communication was established with national American Red Cross management and the retirement system.


Realizing the need for continuing dialogue, but somewhat wary of the growing tension with the Association, in 1986 the Board of Governors formed an official Retiree Advisory Council (Council) composed of select retirees. Twice a year the Council met with Red Cross management and volunteer leaders about issues and concerns of retirees.

In 1988, the Red Cross announced plans to terminate and revert its retirement plan, alarming retirees across the country. Membership in the Association grew quickly and additional groups were formed as retirees sought more information and input on this crucial issue. Their concerns were heard loud and clear, and materially influenced the decisions to increase retiree benefits from the plan’s reverted assets. 


In 1992, the Association moved its headquarters from Florida to the Washington, D.C. area, hired its first paid staff and reorganized to be more responsive to its national membership base. It established a respectful and responsible relationship with the Red Cross and its retirement system. In 1996, the Association agreed to change its name to The Association of Retirees from the American Red Cross. At the turn of the 21st century, it became obvious that the improved working relationship between the Association and the Red Cross no longer required two retiree organizations. In 2003 the American Red Cross Board of Governors approved a merger plan drawn up by Association and Council leaders and the American Red Cross Retiree Association (ARCRA) was formed.  


The American Red Cross Retiree Association (ARCRA) was established to (i) facilitate communications and concerns between Red Cross Retirees and the Red Cross management and Board of Governors, and (ii) support the provision of Red Cross services to the American public. For twenty years it was the sole organization representing the pension and health interests of retirees, their spouses and beneficiaries.

In 2012, there were about 50,000 retirees and beneficiaries participating in the Red Cross pension program. To minimize the financial liability with its pension plan, Red Cross leadership implemented a strategy to “de-risk". This entailed converting pensions into insurance annuities whereby the Red Cross paid insurance companies to assume the former pensions. In these arrangements, the Red Cross ensured that retirees would continue to receive the same level of benefits as if they were still in the pension plan.

Today, very few retirees  draw their retirement annuity from Red Cross--in 2023, fewer than 2,000 individuals remained in the Red Cross fixed benefit pension plan and the number of pension recipients will soon be fewer than 200 new retirees per year.  


In 2023, the ARCRA board conducted a strategic planning and research process, gathered input from members and conducted extensive discussion on the options for the future. The goal was to transform ARCRA into an organization that reflects the needs and interests of current members, while also attracting and retaining alumni of all ages. In April 2023 , the board met with Red Cross President Gail McGovern and her senior team who encouraged the move, and the work to bring it about began.

By the early months of 2024, a new marketing and communications plan had been approved and a group of non-retiree Board members were added bringing fresh ideas and invigoration to the leadership. 

On June 3, 2024, the organization officially became the American Red Cross Alumni Network (ARCAN) and launched on June 11, with a fresh look and a toolbox of robust website, digital communications and social media offerings that engage members and attract potential members. Latest offerings and plans include exciting programs and events, member news and features and opportunities to make a difference for good. And it's all anchored by strong and visionary leadership, a faithful cadre of seasoned alumni and the spirit of the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross that unites us all. 


ARCAN is independent from the American Red Cross but it is our Red Cross experiences that connect us. Our vision is to unite around the ideals, the humanitarian mission and all the other things we value most about being a part of the Red Cross: the service, the global perspective, the learning and most of all, the people. Membership is open to former American Red Cross employees of all ages. 

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