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Facing Disaster After Disaster, the American Red Cross C.E.O. Stays Optimistic

It helped me in my career. There were 50 women and 1,900 men. I had a great education there, but what it really also taught me was what it felt like to be the only woman in the room. I don’t remember taking any classes where there were other women. So you learn how to hold your own, because you have no choice.

What did you learn from the corporate world that you’ve been able to apply to your work at the Red Cross?

What is really profoundly different at a nonprofit is that you really have to not only lead with your head, you have to lead with your heart. If you explain the changes you are making through the lens of the mission, people will do anything for you. But they need to know, and understand, how their actions are going to impact the mission.

At AT&T I’d tell people to calm down. “It’s only telecommunications,” I’d say. “We’re not saving lives here. Let’s not panic.” I always was unflappable at Fidelity. “We’re just managing money here,” I’d say. “We’re not saving lives here.” That schtick does not work at the American Red Cross.

But you had to make some painful cuts when you took over.

Part of the reason we had a deficit is there was a lot of duplication. When I walked in the door, there were 720 different chapters, and each chapter had a C.E.O., a local board, their own marketing, their own email platform, their own finances, their own bank accounts, their own treasury, their own purchasing. I had 69 different contracts for T-shirts. So a lot of it was just consolidation and turning to a classic headquarters model. The first year we were able to save $15 million just by managing our purchasing function.

I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about taking all that back-office stuff and centralizing it. We withheld merit increases for a year, and I didn’t hear a peep. We had to do layoffs and I didn’t even hear much squawking about that.

How has the pandemic impacted your ability to operate?

We’re delivering our mission exactly as we should, but the way we’re doing service delivery is different. The first place where we saw the impact of this was in our biomedical organization, which provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. It was kind of stunning how fast that occurred. We watched blood drives start to get canceled rapidly. Schools were closed, businesses were closed. But the team stood up new blood drives in sports arenas and parking lots.

Source Article

Most American Families Facing Financial Danger During Pandemic: Poll | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than 60% of households with children in the United States have struggled with serious financial problems during the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll shows.

Black and Hispanic households with children have borne the brunt of the hardships, which include struggles to afford medical care, depletion of household savings and difficulty paying debts, the poll found.

Conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the poll surveyed more than 3,400 adults, 1,000 of whom were living with children under the age of 18, between July 1 and Aug. 3.

Of the Hispanic households with children that responded, 86% reported these difficulties; in Black households, 66% reported them. In white households, the number hovers around 50%.

The stark racial differences were surprising, as they surfaced after federal and state governments invested heavily in programs for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Robert Blendon, a director of the study behind the report and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told The New York Times.

“So much money was spent to put a cushion under households,” Blendon said. Still, “the numbers of people in trouble, that is the shock,” he added.

Experts worry that the financial fallout from the pandemic could be even worse than the poll depicts, as government measures to support households run out, Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told the Times.

“It’s a very large number of people who can’t pay the basics,” Blendon told the Times. “You have unbelievably vulnerable people over the next six months.”

But on Tuesday, there were also signs of hope that more government relief might be on the way: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows both said they’re hopeful they can reach agreement on a new economic stimulus bill, the Washington Post reported.

The new bill extends payroll support for the airline industry and includes new small business money, an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals, an extension of expired $600 weekly unemployment benefits, around $500 billion for cities and states, support for schools and COVID-19 testing and tracing, and more. There is also money in the bill to support election security and the U.S. Postal Service, as well, the Post reported.

Globally, COVID death toll passes 1 million

The global coronavirus pandemic reached a grim new milestone on Tuesday: One million dead.

Americans made up more than 200,000 of those deaths, or one in every five, according to a running tally comprised by Johns Hopkins University.

“It’s not just a number. It’s human beings. It’s people we love,” Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan, told the Associated Press. He’s an adviser to government officials on how best to handle the pandemic — and he lost his 84-year-old