According to Laura Allen, the newly appointed executive director of the East Georgia Chapter, the American Red Cross provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.
“That’s a big deal,” said Allen. The organization tries to keep the blood local, however, the distribution is mostly up to supply and demand.
Starting her position in early February, Allen was immediately put to work communicating with Athens-Clarke County officials and relief agencies during destructive back-to-back winter storms that swept across northeast Georgia.
“ It was the perfect start,” said Allen “With the Red Cross there is always so much.”
She said that whether tornadoes are tearing through neighborhoods or massive ice storms causing power outages, the organization always has to be ready.
Graduating from the University of Georgia in May 2008 with a degree in classical and ancient studies, Allen anticipated attending law school. However, after spending time interning for the Georgia Museum of Art, she decided that instead of a law degree, she’d return to UGA to earn her master’s in business.
“I felt held back with a humanities degree,” said Allen.
After earning her MBA from Terry College, Allen gained five years of business experience working for Mansfield Energy Corp. in various leadership positions such as project manager and product line manager.
Allen said she always knew she would work for a nonprofit. She wanted to make a difference while being involved in an organization that aligned with her personal values. After hearing from a friend about a position opening for the Red Cross, she couldn’t resist returning to the place where she grew up, Athens, Ga.
“She shows a definite commitment to the mission of the Red Cross and is very grateful for everyone,” said Wendy Todd, part-time administrative coordinator at the East Georgia Chapter.
Although Allen isn’t directly assisting in blood drives or disaster relief, her favorite part about working for the American Red Cross is the gratitude and heart-warming stories from people who have seen the organization’s work first hand.
Allen recalled a testimony from an ex-military man who praised the countless number of times the Red Cross has helped U.S. military and families, like his, through the organization’s congressional charter. While the man was stationed overseas, a family member suffered a fatal injury in a car accident. He said the Red Cross provided him a way to communicate with his family through a horrible time.
Allen’s arrival could barely come fast enough, according to the organization’s public relations intern Sydney Boone.
“There was an awkward time gap between Laura and the previous executive director Jeff Taylor,” Boone said. Leaving the Athens offices chaotic, Taylor moved to another Red Cross chapter. Boone said that with her background in business management, Allen was able to delegate tasks and conduct the office back to order.
“She’s bright, smart, easy to talk to,” said Todd “And brings a young, fresh perspective to chapter with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Allen’s day-to-day job involves running the “front office” of the East Georgia Chapter, which covers 14 counties. She handles matters from fundraising and service delivery to marketing, administration and communication with media outlets.
Allen said that the organization holds many events each month to raise money and awareness. For those looking to get involved, “I would encourage anyone to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep up with us,” said Allen.
Upcoming events include the UGA Red Cross Open golf tournament scheduled to tee off at 2 p.m. on April 14 at the Georgia Club and The Heroes Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on May 18.