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Red Cross chapter restructures in wake of economy

December 16, 2010

American Red Cross Elk/Cameron Counties Chapter employees Patti Micale and Kathy Cunningham help stack clean-up kits with Executive Director Bob Newell in the St. Marys office. Photo by Amy Cherry.

The Elk and Cameron Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross has recently undergone a restructuring of its chapter in an effort to reduce administrative costs, while still providing the necessary services offered by the organization.
Bob Newell of Penfield is the newly appointed executive director of the Elk and Cameron Counties Chapter. He will also maintain the same position at the DuBois Chapter and the Clearfield/Jefferson Chapter.
He has been with the Red Cross for approximately three years, with his current obligations focused on fundraising and community building.
“This is a shared administrative services position meant to help reduce costs. We’re trying to do things as efficiently as possible,” Newell said.
He noted that prior to July 1, each chapter included a salaried executive director. The organization’s national leadership chose to eliminate all positions in each of the three area chapters, including those in Elk/Cameron, DuBois and Jefferson/Clearfield.
Currently each of the three area chapters includes a full-time program manager and a part-time program specialist, as well as sharing an executive director.
Patti Micale of St. Marys is Elk/Cameron’s new program manger, charged with overseeing the day-to-day activities of the office and fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross through service delivery. Micale began her career with the Red Cross in 2005 as the chapter’s former Emergency Services Director.
Kathy Cunningham of St. Marys is the office’s program specialist.
Newell said both positions are similar, except that one is full-time and the other is part-time. Training for the positions overlap, so when one person is not in the office, the duties may be absorbed by the other.
“There are changes going on throughout the Red Cross as part of the national effort to redesign the organization to become more efficient with donor dollars while providing the required services,” Newell explained. “We’re on the cutting edge of those changes. National is watching us to see how this new structure works. The changes may be incorporated into other chapters across the country.”
He added that other chapters are implementing different structural changes depending on their specific situations.
According to Newell the idea of a shared administration was passed down from the organization’s national leaders as an effort to try and save local chapters.
In addition many small chapters are experiencing significant financial difficulty.
“The Elk/Cameron chapter has been one of the hardest hit,” Newell said. “We have no reserves and are operating on a week-to-week basis.”
For more on this story, see the Dec. 17 edition of The Daily Press.

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