Region’s Red Crosses getting overhaul

BY JOSH MROZINSKI

Times-Shamrock Writer

Local American Red Cross chapters will soon be unrecognizable to many because of an overhaul officials say will improve services.

Starting tentatively May 1, three regions that now cover 16 counties and 13 chapters will become one: the Northeast Pennsylvania Region. The change will result in staff focusing on single job functions, as well as new positions, including a regional chief executive officer. There will be four senior-level people who oversee a function area and five community executives who oversee clusters.

Each chapter will retain its own board.

“Our objective is that services will be better,” said John Hughes, the new regional chief executive officer. “This is all about providing better services across a bigger area.”

Hughes said staff now wear multiple hats. For instance, some disaster service workers now also work on information technology issues.

Noting this is the biggest change he has experienced in his 30 years leading the Greater Lehigh Valley Chapter, Hughes said the goal is to not reduce the “total head count.”

Chapters and offices will not close, he said, adding, however, that the total number of personnel could change because people may choose not to apply to openings posted internally or may not be qualified for the positions.

The process continues a move toward regionalizing services that, Hughes said, began about four years ago with the creation ofScranton,Wilkes-Barreand East Central regions.

Red Cross has about 65 employees working in the three regions.

Bob Cherundolo, American Red Cross of Lackawanna County chief executive officer, declined to comment.

Gary Drapek, president of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, said his agency’s concern is about whether any change to the Red Cross would affect services.

TheUnited Wayprovides about $200,000 to the Red Cross a year for its disaster services program.

“They are incredibly important, and that is why we support the disaster assistance,” Drapek said. “We’re waiting to hear like everybody else.”

The northeast region will be one of four in the state. The other regions are Central,Philadelphiaand Western.

The new region will coverLackawanna, Berks, Carbon, Lehigh,Monroe,Northampton,Schuylkill,Bradford, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna,Wayne,Wyoming, Clinton,Columbiaand Luzerne counties.

Lackawannawill be a part of a cluster that also includes Bradford-Sullivan and Susquehanna andWyomingchapters. Another cluster will contain theWyomingValleyandHazletonchapters.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chapter will remain a stand-alone.

The Red Cross is regionalizing nationally, Hughes said, emphasizing that the change is not about “doing more with less,” something that has happened in the past three to four years.

“This is taking what we have and using it the most efficient way we can (to) get the job done,” he said. “It’s a way of having one executive having leadership for the group of chapters of the region, and we work together for a common purpose.”

At this time, the leadership team is determining how the other positions will be changed, Hughes said, adding that all but one of the nine leadership team positions have been filled.

The leadership team reports directly to Hughes. The four positions dedicated to a function are a regional chief development officer, an emergency services director, a chief administrative officer and a regional communications officer.

“They are all becoming regional employees,” Hughes said.

Having staff dedicated to only one function will improve services, including disaster response, as well as fundraising and volunteer recruitment, he said.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross is currently: three regions, -13 chapters, and 16 counties.

It will be one of four regions inPennsylvania, along with: Central,Philadelphiaand Western.