by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor
It started with a tweet.
And has expanded to honorary chair of the American Red Cross.
President Barack Obama sent his first-ever tweet at the American Red Cross and now serves as the organizations honorary chair.
In this capacity, President Obama’s duties include appointing the chairman of the Board of Governors and designating members of his Administration to serve on the Red Cross Cabinet Council. As honorary chair, the President’s signature is on the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit National Lifesaving Award, the organization’s highest award for people who have used the skills they learned in Red Cross courses to help save or sustain a life.
President Obama’s involvement was enhanced during the earthquake in Haiti. He hit “send” on a Red Cross tweet about his visit to the Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C. It was his first activity in Twittersphere.
The relationship between the American Red Cross and the federal government is unique. The Red Cross is an independent entity that is organized and exists as a nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable institution pursuant to a charter granted to us by the United States Congress. Unlike other congressionally chartered organizations, the Red Cross maintains a special relationship with the federal government.
We have the legal status of “a federal instrumentality,” due to our charter requirements to carry out responsibilities delegated to us by the federal government. Among these responsibilities are:
- to fulfill the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory, assigned
- to national societies for the protection of victims of conflict,
- to provide family communications and other forms of support to the U.S. military, and
- to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief, including mandated responsibilities under the National Response Framework coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This President's Day, we thank President Obama for his support on Twitter, during disasters and ensuring our organization has the right people leading it.