Leadership

Regional & Chapter Leadership

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Joshua Joachim

Joshua serves as the regional chief executive for the American Red Cross of Louisiana. He has more than 16 years of leadership and business management experience – nine of those years with the Red Cross. Joshua has held statewide Red Cross leadership positions in Volunteer Services, Disaster Cycle Services, Service to the Armed Forces, as well as chapter executive director. He is an active member of several business and community professional groups. Joshua is a graduate of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Joshua, his wife Elizabeth, and daughter Darian are supporters of the American Red Cross through volunteerism, financial and blood donation.


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Merri Alessi

Merri serves as the executive director for the Capital Area, Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana. Prior to joining the American Red Cross in August 2015, she was at Woman's Hospital as the director of Marketing, Public Relations, Physician Relations and Strategic Planning. Merri is a graduate of Louisiana State University and was name one of the Sales and Marketing Executives of the Year in 2011. She is an avid gardener and animal lover. She and her husband, Lynn, live in Baton Rouge.


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Michelle Davison

Michelle serves as executive director in North Louisiana. She has been with the Red Cross for 20 years. A lifelong resident of Shreveport, she graduated from Louisiana State University in Shreveport with her bachelor’s degree in communications and her master’s in health administration. She is also the handler for Chloe, a Corgi-mix rescue dog, and the founding member of the North Louisiana American Red Cross Pet Therapy Visitation Team.


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Robert Harris

Robert serves as the regional services to the armed forces director in Louisiana. He is serving his 20th year in the Louisiana Army National Guard as a platoon Sergeant of the 843rd Heavy Equipment Company. Robert joined the Red Cross team after retiring from a 15-year career in law enforcement where he served in various positions such as patrol, K-9 narcotics and major crimes investigations. Robert has a daughter who is an avid barrel race competitor. Robert enjoys spending time with his daughter, competing in marathons and triathlons, and scuba diving.


Louisiana Region - Leadership - Jay Huffstatler

Jay Huffstatler

Jay serves as the chief development officer in Louisiana. He has served with the Red Cross since 2004, most recently as the chief development officer for Mississippi with previous roles as chapter executive and local board member. He received the 2008 Individual Award of Excellence for Disaster Preparation and VOAD Enhancement by National VOAD for his work with Mississippi VOAD, one of two individual awards given nationally annually. Jay is also a member of the Red Cross Advanced Public Affairs Team and a facilitator for the Managing an Inclusive Workforce course for the Red Cross. Jay is a native of Pascagoula, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and enjoys traveling and acting in community theatre. He lives in New Orleans.


Lou Kennedy

Lou Kennedy

Lou, volunteer services officer for Louisiana, began her career with the Association for Retarded Citizens (now known as ARC) prior to joining the American Red Cross in 1994. Following the devastating 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, she managed the Louisiana/Mississippi Red Cross Hurricane Recovery Program. She believes that volunteers are the lifeblood of the Red Cross and she is thrilled to work with them. Lou lives on the Northshore with her husband, Ron, and six children.


Nancy Malone

Nancy Malone

Nancy joined the Red Cross family in 2010 and serves as the regional public affairs director in Louisiana. Her Red Cross service, however, began during Hurricane Katrina when Nancy and her husband returned from their Washington state home to work at a Livingston Parish shelter – a life-changing experience serving residents, most of whom had lost everything. Prior to the Red Cross, Nancy spent eight years as a print and digital journalist. Nancy earned her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication. Nancy and her husband now live in Baton Rouge with their sweet and active girls.


Louisiana Region - Leadership - Emily Simons

Emily Simons

Emily serves as the Regional Disaster Officer for the Louisiana Region. Prior to joining the Louisiana team in 2017, Emily served in a similar position in Central Florida, where she was responsible for ensuring the effective delivery of Red Cross disaster services (preparedness, response and recovery) to 19 counties with a population of over 8.5 million. Emily has a background in supporting federally declared disasters, providing disaster leadership, policy guidance, technical writing, and communication strategies to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Emily and her dog, Stormy, are proud to call New Orleans home.


Rachel Word

Rachel Word

Rachel serves as the regional chief administrative officer for the American Red Cross of Louisiana and Mississippi. She has more than 14 years of business management and leadership experience; eight of those years are with the Red Cross. Rachel has held Red Cross leadership positions in Volunteer Services, as well as Preparedness Health and Safety Services. Rachel is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and enjoys gardening and traveling. Rachel and her husband, Jason, are relocating to New Orleans.