Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Notes from the Chief's Desk: CEO Message

Written by T.D. Smyers, chief executive officer North Texas Region
“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”   
- Clara Barton
One year ago, the North Texas Region of the American Red Cross was born. It was a time of hopeful expectation for some and great anxiety for others. But one need only review these words from Clara Barton to know what our founder would have thought of the organizational change that was necessary to save the American Red Cross, including the creation of regions to handle a lot of the back office functions that had previously burdened our chapters. 

Of course, appealing to Clara means that the change should “improve the past” by advancing the effectiveness and efficiency by which we deliver the historic Red Cross mission.

When I was given the privilege of leading this Region, it became my focus to ensure our regional staff team – both employees and volunteers – were catalysts to the delivery of our mission rather than being an additional layer of bureaucracy. To this end, our team set about identifying just what it is we should be doing. We didn’t need a mission statement. We already had that, courtesy of our national leadership:
Mission Statement
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
What we did need was to define our purpose in support of that mission. With input and review by employees and volunteers across the Region, we did just that:
Purpose Statement of the North Texas Region
To Support, Resource and Enable the work of North Texas Chapters in executing the mission of the Red Cross.
In order to realize this purpose, and keep us focused, we determined three strategic goals as well:
Strategic Goals of the North Texas Region
  1. Optimize and strengthen the identity of local chapters and build a culture of collaboration across the    Region. 
  2. Become the charity of choice for Time, Talent and Treasure in communities across North Texas. 
  3. Be the top Region in American Red Cross for revenue, volunteerism and diversity.
The staff's and volunteer's pursuit of these goals will reinforce the great work done by American Red Cross chapters every day.
I’ve been impressed by how committed our national leaders are to the “upside down pyramid”, meaning that chapters in the field really take the lead role. When an Emergency Response Vehicle rolls up to a curb because a family burned out in the middle of the night, it’s a local Red Cross volunteer that provides the service. 

When a service member needs important communication from home, they reach out to their local chapter. The same is true when a person wants to become a lifeguard, learn CPR or donate a pint of blood. 

So while there have been many changes in the organizational leadership of the Red Cross, there hasn’t been change in keeping Red Cross services strong at the local level. 
At the North Texas Region, we’re committed to serving our communities across the top of the state of Texas. 
One final note. 

One senior volunteer who wasn’t happy about “regionalization” recently told me that she had changed her mind about the reorganization; mostly because she’s seen such tremendous support from the Region that she knows “things are different this time”. 

In fact, she said she feels more connected to the Red Cross now than she ever did when her chapter was operated independently. 

Good days are ahead. BZ!

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