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  • 08/27/2020 6:25 PM | 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.

    Panelists
    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.

    Moderators
    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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  • 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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