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  • 11/23/2021 1:19 PM | Anonymous

    The Greater Washington/Baltimore Group Fall Meeting consisted of two presentations of interest to Red Cross retirees:

    How American Red Cross Blood Services has evolved through the Pandemic, and – in the Process – Become Part of the War against COVID-19

    Todd Cahill, Regional Donor Services Executive for the American Red Cross Virginia Region, shared experiences on the evolution of blood banking through the pandemic. Red Cross has experienced significant changes and challenges over the past year and a half. The Red Cross team has shown great determination and flexibility in adapting to market conditions and donor presentation. Many lessons learned have contributed to Red Cross success and strategy moving forward.

    Todd began his career in the medical device industry and transitioned into blood banking as the Vice President of Lifesource Blood Services in Illinois. Prior to joining the American Red Cross in 2018, he served as the Executive Director for Vitalant with responsibility for Virginia Blood Services, Central Blood Bank in Pittsburgh, and Geisinger Blood Center.  Todd is also the past Board Chair for The Foundation for America’s Blood Centers. 

    Yoga for a Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit: Life is All About Being Flexible
    Cheryl Kravitz, certified Yoga instructor, ARCRA member.

    We have all been there, feeling stressed and tired. Yoga can help. Cheryl led a brief seated class – for men and women. Numerous studies have shown that yoga programs that include regulated breathing, controlled movement, and mindfulness practices can have far-ranging benefits for any participant. Improvements have been shown in mental health (self-regulation, self-esteem) and physical health (better sleep, reduced gastric and arthritic symptoms, and many other positive outcomes).  Cheryl took the group through a series of yoga poses and meditations all while seated in a straight-back chair.  Download the session and use it as a daily yoga program.

    Cheryl shared that research produced by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation has shown that the Kirtan Kriya is a formidable way to prevent Alzheimer's. There is a lot of great information on the site. Kirtan Kriya Yoga Singing Exercise - Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation (alzheimersprevention.org)

    Cheryl Kravitz, APR, CFRE, RYT200, worked with the American Red Cross for almost two decades. Cheryl graduated from the Willow Street Yoga Teacher Training Program and received additional certification to teach trauma-informed yoga and yoga for brain health to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. She teaches at two studios and conducts specialized workshops.  Cheryl has written about the benefits of yoga for local and national publications.

    Click on this link to watch the recording of the programs that comprised the Fall meeting of the Greater Washington/Baltimore Group. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Xupo2Db_iG6x2rzHO7cr46KP-5KszLSE/view?usp=sharing

  • 11/22/2021 11:46 AM | Anonymous

    Red Cross’ operating margins in 2020 and 2021 exceeded expectations. 

    On November 4, ARCRA hosted a webinar featuring Brian Rhoa, Red Cross CFO, who discussed the financial health of the Red Cross (especially impacts from the pandemic) and the health of the retirement plan (the Plan).  Over 80 retirees participated in the hour-long session which included an active Q&A period at the end.

    For fiscal years ending June 30, 2020, and June 30, 2021, the pandemic impacted many businesses negatively and Red Cross was no exception.  Usual work schedules were interrupted, and services had to be provided differently.  Fortunately, due to significant Federal and state money being available to individuals and businesses, the Red Cross was able to continue to provide needed services in different ways with Federal and state assistance.  Brian explained that grants were provided at the local level to help manage disaster shelters and implement recommended COVID protocols while serving clients.  In addition, Federal grants helped to support convalescent plasma production to assist COVID patients.  Red Cross also implemented a big fund-raising push that garnered additional donations for the organization.  Ultimately, Red Cross’ operating margins in 2020 and 2021 exceeded expectations.  This is important since the Red Cross is the Plan sponsor and is responsible for ensuring adequate funding of the Plan. 

    Regarding Plan finances, the Annual Funding Notice was mailed to all participants the week prior to the webinar and reported a Funding Percentage as of July 1, 2020, of 101.15%.  Using Department of Labor regulations this means the plan is fully funded which is a tremendous accomplishment.  Brian explained that implementation of certain investment strategies helped Plan assets recover quickly from the pandemic economic downturn and grow significantly during the recovery.  Red Cross will continue to monitor market conditions to try to ensure funding levels at or near 100% in the future, knowing that fluctuations in interest rates and investment markets can still impact asset values and pension liability calculations.

    Hopefully, participants came away feeling secure about Plan finances and receipt of future benefits.  We are grateful to Brian for his presentation and answering the many questions from participants.

    NOTE: A full analysis of the Annual Funding Notice from David Therkelsen and Jack Campbell will be posted in December on the ARCRA website under Pension Primer.

    Here is the link to watch the recording of the webinar, type this link on your computer. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lD6xSSqWxBAlPcwZOGO8pvSLxUwvU60t/view?usp=sharing

    If you want to listen to the program like a Podcast, type this link on your computer. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ctko5IsYAWdc8On3pNaITrIdqXG1juot/view?usp=sharing

  • 09/17/2021 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday September 17, 2021 2:00 PM EST

    Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disease in the U.S. affecting approximately 100,000 Americans. It affects one of every 365 Black or African American births and about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births.  The incidence of Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) is 73.1 cases per 1,000 black newborns, meaning that these infants have inherited the SCT from their parents and can pass it on to their children.  Currently blood transfusion is the main treatment for SCD and patients can receive from 36 to 120+ units annually.

    The program was led by Tanya Frazier, Co-chair of the Red Cross Sickle Cell Initiative and Jenni Gassborro, product development and implementation director for diverse donors, red blood cells for American Red Cross Biomedical Services.  They  provided insight into the new Red Cross Sickle Cell Program and explained that embracing diversity is critical to the ability of the Red Cross to effectively deliver our lifesaving mission to communities across the country. One of the pillars of our organization’s focus on diversity is to nearly triple the number of African American blood donors. This will eliminate the gap in Red Cross’ ability to meet hospital demand and provide the most compatible blood match possible for patients battling sickle cell disease.

    Pete Amos shared the personal struggle of his son who has SCD and the role that a family and friend network has played to provide his son with the transfusions that he has needed and their effort to provide a normal childhood for him including sports.

    In summary, sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disease in U.S.  affecting more than 100,000 Americans.  Patients with Sickle Cell Disease require chronic transfusions and need closely matched blood and these blood products are more likely to be from donors that are African American or of African descent. 

    Here is what you need to know about Sickle Cell Disease…

    • Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disease in US*;  SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans**
      • SCD affects 1 of every 365 Black or African American births and about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births**
      • If both parents have Sickle Cell Trait (SCT), there is a 50% (or 1 in 2) chance that any child of theirs also will have SCT, if the child inherits the sickle cell gene from one of the parents. Such children will not have symptoms of SCD, but they can pass SCT on to their children.
      • If both parents have SCT, there is a 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that any child of theirs will have SCD. There is the same 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that the child will not have SCD or SCT.
    • SCD is the most common inherited blood disease in US*;  SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans**
      • SCD affects 1 of every 365 Black or African American births and about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic American births**
      • If both parents have Sickle Cell Trait (SCT), there is a 50% (or 1 in 2) chance that any child of theirs also will have SCT, if the child inherits the sickle cell gene from one of the parents. Such children will not have symptoms of SCD, but they can pass SCT on to their children.
      • If both parents have SCT, there is a 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that any child of theirs will have SCD. There is the same 25% (or 1 in 4) chance that the child will not have SCD or SCT.
    • The U.S. incidence estimate for sickle cell trait (based on information provided by 13 states):
      • 73.1 cases per 1,000 black newborns
      • 6.9 cases per 1,000 Hispanic newborns
      • 3.0 cases per 1,000 white newborns
      • 2.2 cases per 1,000 Asian or Pacific Islander newborns
    • Individuals with SCT are eligible to donate blood
    • Blood transfusion is the main treatment for SCD
      • Simple transfusion 
        • 1-2 units
      • RBC exchange
        • Units transfused based on size of patient
        • -5-10 or more units of RBCs for adults; 3+ units for pediatric patients
    • Patients can receive from 36 - 120+ units annually

    Embracing diversity is critical to the ability of the Red Cross to effectively deliver our lifesaving mission to communities across the country. One of the pillars of the Red Cross’ focus on diversity is to nearly triple the number of African American blood donors. This will eliminate the gap in our ability to meet hospital demand and provide the most compatible blood match possible for patients battling sickle cell disease. To that effort, the Red Cross kicked off a comprehensive campaign to build awareness, educate and attract more African American donors.  A key element of the plan is to partner with national organizations including the NAACP, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and trusted community organizations.  Red Cross is also building its capacity to test, type and match an increased number of units.

    Please donate blood www.redcrossblood.org/ourblood

    Click the links below to view or listen to the recordings from this ARCRA Webinar

    Link to recorded webinar https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NWJgqRbwev-6vo3LQ5_JvsJwGazMiV1F/view?usp=sharing

    Link to audio podcast recording https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SmyKJQ8-Oqt5pufFLoiZ2agvHyZw0I3P/view?usp=sharing

    Presenter Bios

    Tanya Frazier

    Tanya has an extensive background in the science analytical chemistry field and has supervised genetics laboratories for Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughter’s as well as biomedical labs in the pharmaceutical industry with Abbott Laboratories.

    During her 26-year service at the American Red Cross Tanya has worked in Quality Assurance and Regulator for Biomedical and Tissue Services in DC and the Mid-Atlantic Region and while Quality Assurance Officer, she led the first Regional Diversity Task Force for the Mid-Atlantic Region.  She developed minority blood donor programs with local high schools. Historically Black Colleges and Universities and various churches in North Carolina and Virginia and doubled the African American blood donations within the region. Her Diversity.  With the Diversity Task Force, she developed best practices and guidance for minority blood donation programs across the Red Cross. She is the new Co-Chair for the Sickle Cell Initiative Employee Work Stream.  She has a B.S. in Biology from East Carolina University and a M.S. in Public Health Administration from Trop University. And on top of that, she is a 20+ year volunteer fitness instructor at Langley Air Force Base.

    Jenni Gassbarro

    Jenni is the product development and implementation director for diverse donors, red blood cells for American Red Cross Biomedical Services. In her role she is the internal project leads for closing the sickle cell gap. She has the honor to work with a broad reaching group of colleagues who have incredible passion and expertise to see how together, we can best meet the needs of individuals with sickle cell disease. Jenni has been with the Red Cross for 14 years, starting out in disaster and spending most of her career in fundraising, leading corporate and foundation partnerships out of Colorado.

    Edward (Pete) Amos

    Pete started his Red Cross Career early as a youth volunteer in the 5th grade in Cleveland, OH and took Red Cross First Aid courses in junior and senior high.

    While attending the Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York, Pete became a blood donor as a freshman.  While in college he created a first responder group, the Student Safety Unit, now the RIT Ambulance and was their first, First Aid Instructor.

    After joining the Xi Zeta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity and the campus College Red Cross, Pete became Blood Donation Chairman and increased blood donations from 50 units to 200. Pete continued his Red Cross career at the Rochester-Monroe County Chapter as a DMF and Disaster Services Specialist. 

    Pete served on local and national disaster operations.  His career included stints:

    • On a joint Committee of Red Cross/League of International League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mission to the Kingdom of Thailand
    • as Disaster Director for the Dayton Area Chapter and Western Ohio
    • at the national disaster officer in Mass Care, Damage Assessment, and Human Relation
    • as an Assistant Director of Disaster Services at Midwestern Operations Headquarters
    • ·on a one-year League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mission to the Democratic Republic of Madagascar and a Disaster Development Delegate.
    • as Emergency Services Director for the Southeastern Michigan Chapter (Detroit).
    • as a Liaison Delegate appointed by Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole for the International Federation assignment to Turkey.

    Pete left the Red Cross to become an ISO 9000 Quality Management Specialist with AM General, assembler for the Hummer H2.   While in South Bend Pete concluded his 45th year with the ARC as a Disaster Instructor for the St. Joseph Chapter, preparing more than 100 volunteers for assignment to Hurricane Katrina.


  • 06/10/2021 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    • In case you missed it, here is the link to the June 10th ARCRA Webinar on Brain Heath presented in partnership with AARP. It featured Sarah Lenz Lock AARP Senior Vice President of Policy and Brain Health and Executive Director of AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health (see bio below).  The program was a conversational interview format, moderated by David Therkelsen, ARCRA Past President, and former CEO of the St. Paul chapter and interim CEO of the North Central Blood Services Region.  (See photo below of the attendees.).

    • Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15yaMXsH_XSrQtXKUp1hl94nJQAhM6Wnt/view?usp=sharing

      Sarah talked about the Six Pillars of Brain Health https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/about/brain-health/the-science/ to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.  They are easily remembered through the acronym BE MORE:

      • Be Social
      • Engage your Brain
      • Manage Stress
      • Ongoing Exercise-150 minutes per week
      • Restorative Sleep-7 to 8 hours per day
      • Eat Right

      Sarah encouraged us to take advantage of a unique offer from AARP during June, Brain Health Awareness Month.  Take the AARP Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment for free (normally $14.00).  The free assessment is a limited-time offer good from June 1-June 30, 2021 for AARP members https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/about/brain-health/assessment-free-june/.  The Brain Assessment will provide a personalized plan on how you can maintain your brain health.

      Access Staying Sharp, https://stayingsharp.aarp.org/ a brain health program that offers a holistic, life-style based approach to brain health based on science.  The site provides self-paced activities and presents lifestyle choices that can be added to your daily routine.  You can access:

      • Brain Health Challenges-practical, daily skill
      • Information on lifestyle habits that help or hinder brain health
      • Activities that you can easily add to your daily routine
      • Recipes with ingredients that nourish mind and body
      • Games that are challenging and fun

      Staying Sharp provides evidence-based strategies of what works, focusing on lifestyle interventions not pharmaceuticals.  Some of us on the webinar were hopeful maintaining brain health was as simple as increasing the daily number of Crossword and Sudoku puzzles we mastered. While taking on more difficult versions can be challenging and personally satisfying, we were disappointed to hear they will not maintain cognitive function. On the other hand, participating in a challenge that involves social interaction like Words Games with Friends or Scrabble, can help to build up our cognitive reserve.

      Music is also incredibly powerful in stimulating the brain https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/global-council-on-brain-health/music/ .  We all enjoy listening to music we know from “our generation” because it can provide comfort, calm, and reduce stress. However, to stimulate you brain, challenge it to listen to new and different styles of music-HipHop anyone?

      The social isolation related to COVID-19 protocols have negatively impacted our brain  and physical health  https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/global-council-on-brain-health/covid/.   Many of us lost our social interactions, like visits with friends and grandchildren, travel, and our regular routine of attending religious services, weekly bridge games, volunteering, and family and community events and celebrations.  Others put off needed medical visits or treatments and now face more severe and threatening health issues as a result.

      Sarah also referenced the wealth of Brain Health research and resources found online at AARP to help each of us maintain and improve our Brain Health as we age.   Check out these resources on Brain Health:  


    • Photo During the presentation, Dave had attendees cradle their head in their hands.  He reminded us that Brain Health is very important because our brain defines who we are..our personality and what make unique.



    BIO -Sarah Lenz LockAARP Senior Vice President of Policy and Brain Health, and Executive Director of the GCBH 

    Image previewMs. Lock leads AARP’s policy initiatives on brain health and care for people living with dementia, including serving as the Executive Director of the Global Council on Brain Health, an independent collaborative of scientists, doctors, and policy experts. Ms. Lock also coordinates AARP’s role in the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations.

    From 2007 to June 2018 she directed the Office of Policy Development and Integration, where she led the office responsible for the development of AARP’s public policies. Previously, Ms. Lock was Senior Attorney/Manager at AARP Foundation Litigation conducting health care impact litigation on behalf of older persons. She has authored numerous amicus briefs in appellate courts all over the country on health care issues impacting older Americans.

    Sarah serves on several boards and is a member of the American Society on Aging, the Gerontological Society of America, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the NIA IMPACT Collaboratory, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Sarah represents AARP on the Alliance to Improve Dementia Care and serves on the Dementia Friendly America National Council and as a Health and Aging Policy Fellow Program National Advisory Board Member. She formerly served as a Commissioner for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging and on the HHS Administration on Community Living Aging and Cognitive Health Technical Expert Advisory Board.

    Prior to joining AARP, Sarah served as a Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, as a Legislative Assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives and at the law firm of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn. Ms. Lock received a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College, and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law where she was a member of the law review.

  • 11/12/2020 4:06 PM | Anonymous
    The ARCRA Webinar took a look at this proud part of the history of the American Red Cross, hearing about the experience of the Donut Dollies in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

    Linda Pelegrino served as a “Donut Dollie” in Vietnam in the early years of that war.  She says it was a life-changing experience.   She said she was young and well trained and so focused on her responsibility to the service member that she does not remember feeling any fear about being in a war zone. 

    There was a lot of competition for these jobs.  The young ladies were required to have a college education and they were carefully selected.

    Donut Dollies, Maxine Powell Taylor-WWII, Shirley Hines Atkins-Korea and Vietnam,  and Debby McSwain-Vietnam,  joined Linda  to share their experiences.  The program was hosted by Sharon Ritter-Vietnam.

    Click here to watch the recording of the webinar


    In 1867 a journalist wrote “Miss Barton is what we call a strong hearted woman, not “strong minded” in an offensive way of the term”. Indeed Clara Barton was a strong hearted woman, strong minded too and led the way for women to be involved in all activities in what was to become the American Red Cross. She once said “The door that nobody else will go in…seems always to swing open widely for me”.

    While todays program highlights the work of the Canteen women workers from WWI, to the Club and Clubmobile workers in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, we want to acknowledge the important work done by men and women who served in other positions overseas during wars, combat and now operations to support our United States Military.

    The Canteen Program started in 1917 by the French and was soon expanded by the American Red Cross. They took over large spaces and buildings, had instruments for bands and even a twenty-piece orchestra in one area for concerts. Red Cross girls supplemented the evening entertainment by distributing cigarettes, candy, apples and hot chocolate. Workers in canteens near the front lines also helped do emergency service, as we know now as emergency communications.

    The first American Red Cross clubs were opened in England in May of 1942. The idea of “clubmobile program grew out of the need to reach men stationed where no service clubs were available. The idea belongs to Harvey Gibson who took on the post of Commissioner to Great Britain in 1942. It started with converted buses or heavy trucks. They were equipped with donut making machines. The program was very successful and these women traveling in teams were soon serving in every theatre of the war and they endured all the hardships as the troops. There were even 2 “trainmobiles in the Burma/China and India area. No matter the difficulties and there were many, the Red Cross women serving in all these areas found ways to be with the troops and bring a “smile from home”. They had grit!

    In 1950, when war broke out in Korea, General Douglas McArthur requested the Red Cross provide Clubs as they had in WWII. By 1953 the small club system was replaced by a mobile recreation force that became known as the SRAO (Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas) program. Highly mobile yet also managing small recreation centers these women provided recreation programs that they took to the field, centers where service-members could enjoy card games, read books and of course have coffee and donuts! The term Do-nut Dollie is thought to have been a nickname given by the soldiers in Korea.

    The SRAO program continued in Korea and at the same time, in 1965 at the request of the military authorities, the SRAO program was started in Vietnam. The purpose was to provide clubmobile teams of Red Cross women who traveled by helicopter, jeep, and trucks to remote U.S. bases in South Vietnam where they conducted audience-participation recreation activities for isolated troops and in large support areas ran Recreation Centers.

    In 1967-68 the peak year of the program, a monthly average of 280,000 servicemen took part in Red Cross activities in the 20 major military commands in Vietnam. The teams traveled an average of 27,100 miles per month and Red Cross officials estimated they logged over 2,125,000 miles in the 7 years they were stationed in Vietnam. The May 26, 1972, Red Cross press release “Red Cross Clubmobile Girls Coming Home From Vietnam” stated that during the 7 years of the program, 627 young women most of them just out of college, served in Southeast Asia. The SRAO program in Korea ended in 1973.

    RCRA Webinar - November 13, 2:00 p.m. EST


    Jim Hamilton                                                   Harold Brooks


    ARCRA President                                           Chair, Advocacy & Education



    Join the ARCRA Webinar https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82529143780?pwd=by9ad3Y4Y0QrWmZhbjBYWVJyRVlOdz09

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  • 10/02/2020 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    Race in America, Race in Red Cross

    by David Therkelsen

    Since George Floyd was killed on the streets of Minneapolis on Memorial Day, virtually every organization in America has examined its own history, its own record of successes and failures in promoting a diverse and inclusive society, and its own culture and practices. American Red Cross is no exception. Join us on October 21, for a discussion on race, led by key figures who can help us account for racial history back to the 1960s, and assess Red Cross’ present and future

    A discussion sponsored by American Red Cross Retiree Association, and Greater Washington-Baltimore Retiree Group

    Opening Speaker: Steve D. Bullock

    Steve Bullock had a 38-year career in American Red Cross, culminating in service as Acting President, succeeding Elizabeth Dole. Steve headed the Chapter and Blood Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and before that, headed Red Cross in St. Paul, Minnesota, with oversight of the affiliated Red Cross Divisions as well. He also had assignments in Europe and Asia. Before joining Red Cross Steve served in the U.S. Army as a communication specialist. Steve serves on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, where he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. Steve is the author of My Name is Steve Delano Bullock: How I Changed My World and the World Around Me Through Leadership, Caring and Perseverance. The book recounts how Steve, the youngest of 22 children born to a sharecropper in rural North Carolina, went on to be an important leader who influenced and inspired thousands.

    Tony Polk

    Colonel (Ret) Anthony J. (Tony) Polk, was born in the 1940s in a very segregated Louisiana. In 1960, Tony helped integrate McNeese State University (MSU), in Lake Charles, LA. Tony was the first black to earn a BS degree in Medical Laboratory Science from MSU and also the first black to receive an officer commission from the ROTC program. During a distinguished 30 year military career, Tony commanded U.S. military medical units in the USA, Europe and the Pacific. His last assignment involved eight years in the Pentagon as Director of the Department of Defense (Army, Air Force, Navy) military blood program. McNeese State University inducted Tony into its Hall of Fame for distinguished graduates.

    In a second career, Tony was recruited and hired by Elizabeth Dole, then President of the American Red Cross (ARC) to help lead the $2 billion transformation of the ARC Blood Services to the current ARC Biomedical Services. During a 15 year career at NHQ in Washington DC, Tony held several executive positions, the last as the first Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for the National Organization. During a five-year tenure as CDO, Tony and staff developed an extensive diversity model for the entire ARC (Board of Governors to smallest unit) to use. The key elements of the model were

    integrating all diversity efforts into an organization’s business plan and establishing benchmarks for measuring success.

    Debbera (Dee) Hayward

    Dee Hayward’s long Red Cross career began in the Greater Houston Chapter, where she held nursing leadership roles. She then went to National Headquarters, where she worked in Blood Services Education and Training and later in Human Resources in a number of professional/leadership roles culminating in her position as Senior Director of Corporate Diversity. Under President Elizabeth Dole, Dee led the design and implementation of the President’s 12-Point Agenda for Corporate Diversity, including the Executive Apprentice Program, the Presidential Scholars Program, and the Presidential Intern Program (flagship programs under the agenda). Under the Chief Diversity Officer, she supported the institutionalization of diversity through multiple focuses. Dee designed the model which linked diversity initiatives to business planning and the Diversity Scorecard used by all units. She helped launch the supplier diversity effort and forged partnerships between Red Cross and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the association for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority and the American Translation Association (ATA). Active in retiree affairs, Dee served two terms as president of the Greater Washington-Baltimore Retiree Group.

    Jim Thomas

    Jim Thomas is in his 60th year of involvement with American Red Cross, and the ICRC. He is a native of Tennessee and graduated from Fisk University with a degree in history and government. He has won Fisk University’s Alumni Award for Service to the Profession. At American Red Cross National Headquarters Jim was Director of Program Development and Corporate Planning, and Corporate EEO Officer. He won the Red Cross National Diversity Award, and the President’s Award for Leadership. In his international career, Jim held leadership roles in military installations in Vietnam and Germany, and had special assignments in Austria and Sweden for youth leadership. He was a team leader for MASH disaster assistance in Jordan, and a team leader for Friendship Africa in Liberia and Malawi. In yet a third dimension of his career, Jim was well known as the voice – the singing voice – of Red Cross; he was founder and director of the American Red Cross Festival Choir. In that role, which Jim regards as a career highlight, he built on prior singing experience with Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Robert Shaw Chorale, and the Paul Hill Chorale at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts. Jim has homes in Virginia and Massachusetts,  and has served on the Red Cross board in both Fredericksburg and Hyannis.

    Floyd Pitts, J.D.

    Floyd Pitts has, since 2009, been the Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for American Red Cross. At Red Cross, he has aligned diversity and inclusion objectives with the organization mission and with business unit strategies. He re-energized Red Cross’ supplier diversity program. Training programs developed under his leadership won the Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Society of Diversity. Before joining Red Cross, Floyd was the Senior Director of Diversity Programs for Hilton Hotel Corporation. There, he was responsible for development and implementation of

    diversity programs for all owned and managed Hilton hotels, as well as corporate operations. Floyd received a B.A. with high honors from Michigan State University, and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law. He has received the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Founders Award.

    Harold Brooks

    Harold Brooks joined American Red Cross in 1975, and over the next 40 years held variety of positions, including Senior Vice President of International Operations, and CEO of the Red Cross in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Harold has extensive international experience including serving as Country Representative for Africare in Kenya, and Peace Corps Country Director in Papua, New Guinea. Although retired as a Red Cross executive, Harold is a consultant to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Caribbean Region, and is a board member of the American Red Cross Retiree Association. Currently Harold is serving as the chief resilience officer of Global Community Resilience, an organization that helps community leaders save, restore and improve the lives of residents in the face of disruptions, changing conditions and pressing community issues.

    David Therkelsen

    In his 28 years in American Red Cross, David Therkelsen was CEO of the St. Paul Area Chapter, and interim CEO of the St. Paul-based North Central Blood Services Region. In various blood region roles, Dave was instrumental in increasing Red Cross market share at a time when, due to the pressures of managed care, it was declining nearly everywhere else. He served as co-chief of staff during Steve Bullock’s Red Cross presidency, and was a winner of the National Tiffany Award for Management. A long-time Minneapolis resident, Dave lives about four miles from where the killing of George Floyd took place, and has played an active part in community leadership discourse on topics such as police reform, including publishing an influential OpEd commentary in the StarTribune, calling for outsourcing of Minneapolis policing to neighboring St. Paul.

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  • 09/30/2020 5:49 PM | Anonymous

    by John Hendrickson

     McMaster, President, American Red Cross Training Services provided an update on the transformation of Health and Safety Services to today’s Training Services and the challenges in the age of COVID-19. Jack shared how the restructuring to build efficiencies and develop core content combined with building the technology and product platform have helped Red Cross programs be the training of choice. From 2016 to the present the contribution margin has moved from losses to positive revenue to the organization.
     The Military Training Network has trained 200,000 enrollees at no charge in FY19 because of the financial soundness of the program. The Water Safety Centennial Campaign has refocused efforts on lifeguard training especially in underrepresented communities.  In 2020 COVID-19 has suppressed in classroom training significantly, though there has been some improvement recently. In 2021 with a vaccine, we should increase training rates again, and then be back to 2019 levels or more in 2022.

    Here is a summary of the presentation:

    Jack McMaster presented on the last 10 years, 2010 to the present, on the transformation of what was known as Preparedness, Health & Safety Services to the rebranded “Training Services,” that it is today, a $100 million portfolio, which now encompasses portions of Disaster Services and Blood Services as well.

    He spoke to the Red Cross Vision:

    • In an emergency there are always trained individuals nearby, ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives.


    Training Services Vision:

    • America’s best commercial safety provider
    • Deepen and extend Red Cross reputation for training that improves lives
    • Best training provider with which to work

    He noted that, among other things, a regular internal Training Services staff survey shows continuing improvements in the staff’s view of Red Cross as “a great place to work.”

    Red Cross’s market share continues to grow. As of FY 2019, Training Services experienced $153 million in revenue, with breakout by product lines as:

    • 63% First Aid/CPR/AED
    • 12% Aquatics
    • 11% ARC Store and other non-training
    • 8% Other training
    • 6% Hospital Resuscitation Suite (area with significant growth potential)

    From 2016 to the present the contribution margin  has moved from losses to positive revenue to the organization. 

    Training Services has been built into a standalone strategic business unit nationwide. It has consolidated and built front end systems, including the Call Center through which all customer communication now comes. It has built efficiencies and developed core content. Further, it built a technology and product platform invested in future scalability. And since 2017, it now capitalizing on growth opportunities.

    Top 10 Changes 2011 to 2019

    10. Back Office Transformation

    • Established a National Call Center with centralized inbound business and consumer sales nationwide
    • Integrated front office and back office service
    • As soon as the 800# was turned on, it was immediately receiving 100,000 calls a month; and at the same time became much more efficient.
    • Established a Business Group Sales Team for telemarketing to small and medium size companies in addition to the sales force assigned to large companies and other organizations.

    9. Transformation to a cloud-based platform with Salesforce

    • Produced a fully refreshed software enabled platform, through Salesforce, which changes the nature of what we are able to do.
    • Example: Mapping where we are and where demand exists, allowing us to pinpoint where people are asking for training and no one is there providing.

    8. Training Services has experienced a near 5X Productivity increase since 2012

    7. Reengineered RedCross.org

    • Resulted in >$40 million in Training and Store Revenue
    • Now dominate the field in search for training in the first aid/CPR world

    6. Award winning Digital App Platform

    • Propelled our reach from ~6 million to >800 million touches annually
    •  Includes providing help in disasters and needs for blood

    5. Seamless re-brand of PHSS as “Training Services”

    4. Mission enhancements

    • Swim lessons with focus on areas with higher drowning rates
    • Development and promotion of Junior Lifeguard, Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor
    • AED placement with those conducting training, >4,000/year
    • Walmart funded 2,500 to receive Nurse Assistant Training
    • Launched a revitalized nation-wide Certificate of Merit Lifesaving Award program, to include award ceremonies with both the rescuer and the rescued person present. Continues to grow.

    3. Assumed industry product leadership

    •  Introduced “Big Red,” the first feedback mechanism, which improved skills learned and confidence in them.
    •  Allowed licensed training partners to post their classes on redcross.org.
    • Reintroduced the Aquatic Examiner Service to the Aquatic market, where the examiner reviews and reports to management on pool safety as well as lifeguard protocols and performance.
    • Launched the Hospital Resuscitation Suite, which added ALS and PALS, which opened up the market for Red Cross in an area where AHA had dominated over the entire US Military Training Network, which and includes all VA hospitals. MTN trained 200,000 enrollees in 2019.
    • 2. Achieved a multi-year productivity transformation FY12 to FY19

    • 23% growth in enrollees
    • 4X productivity gains

    1. Next five years à Good becomes Great

    • Leverage Industry’s only Salesforce SASS Platform
    • Grow service delivery (instructor) superiority with feedback loops
    • Achieve omni-channel segmented marketing mastery
    • Extend Product superiority – new hospital & workplace offerings, eBooks, subscriptions, training supplies, online and segment targeted content
    • Expand Nurse Assistant Training LTP – blended model with online test prep.

    Reach more than 30% market share for Hospital market resuscitation

    In 2020 COVID-19 has suppressed in classroom training significantly, though there has been some improvement recently. In 2021 with a vaccine, we should increase training rates again, and then be back to 2019 levels or more in 2022.

    You can click here view the recording of the webinar.

  • 09/30/2020 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    Susie Spartano, Director, Volunteer Recruitment, and Intake Update on Red Cross Volunteer Opportunities for Retirees provided on update on current Red Cross volunteer recruitment efforts. She discussed how retirees can help meet the need of Americans across the country with the large number of major disasters this year during this time of pandemic and highlighted several “virtual” volunteer opportunities.

    The 2020 Hurricane and Wildfire Season has produced back-to-back disasters across the country, including massive wildfires out west and multiple hurricanes and flooding in the South. The nonstop massive disasters re keeping thousands of Red Crossers working tirelessly across the country to provide food, shelter, and comfort to tens of thousands of people in need. For Hurricanes Sandy and Laura and the wildfires, the Red Cross and partners served more than 1.5 million meals and snacks and distributed some 212,000 relief items. The most-need volunteer opportunities are:

    • Shelter Services Associates and Shelter Supervisors
    • Disaster Health Services Associates and Supervisors
    • Blood Donor Support
    • Volunteer from home virtual positions 
    • To learn more visit: www.RedCross.org/volunteertoday

    Susie highlighted several virtual volunteer opportunities including:

    • Human Resource Monitoring Support Volunteer – Serve as front-line agent supporting Red Cross managers, employees and volunteers who submit COVID-19-related exposure/diagnosis information to the HR mailbox
    • Office of Diversity and Inclusion Content Review Team Member – Review content across all lines of service and assess the proper balance and tone of diversity and inclusivity; will provide feedback to content creators as necessary to align with Red Cross D&I objectives

    She explained various opportunities where retirees with the following skills can volunteer virtually and remain at home:

    • Admin/Clerical & Office
    • Communications & Marketing
    • Data, Reporting & Analytical
    • Education & Training
    • Executive & Leadership
    • Finance, Accounting & Auditing
    • Health & Social Services
    • Human Resources
    • Volunteer OppTechnical, IT Systems & Services She encourage retirees to email NHQVolRecruiter@redcross.org to discuss their skills and interests with a national recruiter. Retirees can also check out www.RedCross.org/volunteertoday for a listing of current volunteer opportunities.

    Click here to view the recording of the webinar.

  • 07/29/2020 4:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by David Therkelsen

    Two prominent physicians spoke to Red Cross retirees via Zoom on July 17, reviewing current blood banking issues, and especially the impact of COVID-19 on the blood supply and on therapeutic practices. We heard from Pampee Young, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at American Red Cross, and Jeff McCullough, MD, now a transfusion medicine consultant but once Red Cross’ senior vice president for Biomedical Services.

    Dr. McCullough led off with a discussion of changing transfusion practices, and how they have affected the blood supply, and the financial soundness, of American Red Cross and other blood banking organizations. He said that as far back as the 1950s, Mayo Clinic had determined that a patient undergoing general anesthesia should have a hemoglobin level of 10 grams per deciliter; below that a transfusion should be given. Over time that became the standard for all procedures.

    But about 15 years ago doctors and scientists began to question that standard, and determined that patient hemoglobin levels as low as 7 or 8 were safe for medical procedures, without administering blood. Very quickly, blood transfusions fell off. This was a good thing for patients, Dr. McCullough said, but not so good for the financial health of blood centers; they found they could not reduce costs as quickly as demand for blood was falling.

    Still, even with blood demand falling, there is still plenty of need. From a peak of about 16 million units of blood donated in 2008, hospitals and their patients still need about 12 million units to be donated annually.

    Dr. Young then spoke about the current experience of American Red Cross. She described how, in the early weeks of COVID-19 response, Red Cross lost access to huge numbers of donors because normal collections sites – companies, schools, churches – were closed. In March and April, 14,000 blood drives were canceled and 400,000 planned units went uncollected; Red Cross was able to collect just 53% of its goal.  Fortunately blood utilization was also down, but not as sharply. By mid-May, blood usage had surged above pre-COVID levels.

    As collections rebound, Red Cross, like virtually all public-facing entities stepped up its cleaning procedures, began doing temperature checks of all employees, donors and volunteers, and imposed its own form of social distancing by requiring appointments for all blood donations, thereby smoothing out the flow of donors.

    Dr. Young then spoke about the central role Red Cross is playing in providing COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma – CCP. This involves collecting plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID, for transfusion to current patients. Antibodies in these donors’ plasma may, in current patients, prevent the virus from replication. Red Cross is identifying suitable donors, collecting and distributing blood, within FDA guidelines.

    The early clinical experience with CCP use is encouraging, and scientific studies, while not yet numerous or methodologically robust, are also promising. In fact, doctors treating COVID-19 patients are ordering CCP in high enough quantities that shortages may occur in the very near future. Dr. Young said this is a large concern for ARC, because for the treatment to work patients need CCP to be administered early in their therapy.

    There followed a vigorous Q&A period, including cameo appearances by Dr. Lew Barker, head of American Red Cross Blood Services in the 1970s and 80s, and Dr. Gerald Sandler, also a senior physician at Red Cross.

     If you were not able to join the webinar you can click here to listen to an audio recording. 

  • 06/30/2020 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Living Life with Purpose and Vitality in Challenging Times:  Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic, PhD., shared ways to strengthen our psychological resilience and perhaps even grow during these unprecedented times of the Coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Kecmanovic is the Founder and Director, Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

    Here are several takeaways from the presentation provided by Patricia Clark, the Chair of the Program Committee of the Greater Washington/Baltimore ARCRA Group:

    • We have been thrown out of our “everydayness”.  So many things have changed.  It is not surprising that a person might feel anxious or worried or stressed.  In fact, it is very normal.  It is not something to feel guilty about or apologize for.  We have experienced multiple losses:  schedules, routines, social interactions, building relationships, maintaining relationships, anticipated current and future plans, distancing from children/grandchildren and, for some, loss of health.  There is no need to feel guilty about your feelings.
    • This situation also provides us with some great opportunities to use these changes to learn more about ourselves and to reflect and grow, find ways to appreciate the “new” normal and to identify and name things we are grateful for.  This can be a discipline—and it is helpful to do it routinely.  Pick a time (before bed, first thing in the morning, etc.) and take time to identify three to five things for which you are grateful.  This is a surprisingly effective exercise.  These can be big or small things—but it is helpful to identify and think about them.
    •  Something that is helpful is to find a way to “contain or manage” your worry or anxiousness and not let it rule your day.  One technique is to create a Worry Jar—or it could be a list on paper or on your phone.  Every time you find yourself thinking about something that bothers or worries you, write the thought on a piece of paper.  Put it in the jar.  Schedule 30 minutes each day to go through the jar and worry over everything in it.  Then—at the end of that time—allow yourself to move back into a less emotionally burdensome mind-set.  You are not ignoring your worries.  They are important and you made time for them, but they do not creep into your life constantly.  You are controlling your response to them.
    • Another helpful approach is to use the concept of mindfulness.  While this started in many of the ancient religions and practices, it has become a growing area of emphasis in our society.  Many meditation courses and writings abound and the practice of yoga incorporates mindfulness.  The concept is to quiet yourself and be very purposeful and deliberate in focusing on the present moment—not what happened earlier or what else is going on around you or what might happen in the future.  This can be sitting quietly, doing breathing exercises, getting lost in some beautiful music—whatever focuses you on the here and now.
    • Writing is something that many people find helpful.  Keep a journal and put your thoughts down on paper or take a creative approach and convert them into a prayer or a poem or freestyle verse.

    It is possible to come out of this situation knowing more about yourself and finding helpful ways to grow and learn.  Remember the importance of self-compassion.  We all are dealing with some very unique and challenging times.

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