ARCRA Webinar October 21, 2020 2:00PM EST

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.

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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