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Regional Leadership

New Jersey Leadership - Rosie Taravella

Rosie Taravella, Regional Chief Executive Officer

As regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross New Jersey Region, Rosie Taravella oversees all Red Cross disaster services, volunteer management, service to the Armed Forces, fundraising and external relations within the state. New Jersey is home to 8.9 million residents and is the most densely populated state in the country.

Taravella joined the Red Cross in 2012 as regional chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Central New York, overseeing the organization’s operations throughout 16 Central New York counties. In late 2014, the region was expanded to include Western New York, with Taravella providing oversight for 26 counties as chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York. During her tenure, Taravella developed a vision and strategy to increase the teamwork of employees reporting across the region, executed a plan to reduce the number of facilities in the region to better utilize donor dollars, and partnered with emergency management officials to develop community resilience and improve readiness for large-scale disasters.

Prior to her work with the Red Cross, Taravella was vice president of corporate advancement at WCNY Public Broadcasting in Syracuse, New York. At WCNY, she provided oversight for membership, major giving, grant support, auctions, volunteer services, and special events. Taravella worked to instigate a more interactive relationship with the station’s viewers and listeners. In 2011, she kicked off the public phase of “The Campaign for WCNY,” a capital fundraising effort for the renovation and construction of WCNY’s new headquarters.

Taravella was invited to participate in the Health Foundation Leadership Fellows Program of Western and Central New York from 2013-2015, and was awarded “Nonprofit Executive of the Year” by the Central New York Business Journal in 2014.

New Jersey Red Cross Leadership - Rodric Bowman

Rodric Bowman, Regional Disaster Officer

Rodric Bowman, is a seasoned emergency manager with extensive experience developing and implementing comprehensive emergency management programs. Most recently Dr. Bowman served as the Senior Director for Emergency Management Operations at NYC Health + Hospitals where he provided strategic guidance and tactical support to ensure the uninterrupted functionality of system-wide operations for the nation’s largest municipal healthcare delivery system. Prior to his role at NYC Health+ Hospitals, Dr. Bowman served the state of New Jersey as the Deputy Chief of the Preparedness Bureau at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). In his role at NJOHSP, he led planning efforts intended to enhance New Jersey’s disaster resilience.

Dr. Bowman’s experience and education provides him with the unique perspective to lead the coordinated response to disasters and emergencies of any magnitude. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Western Connecticut State University, a Masters in Administrative Science degree focused in Emergency Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a Doctorate degree in Civil Security Leadership, Management and Policy from New Jersey City University, where his dissertation explored the value of Public- Private Partnerships focused on resiliency and the impact that these partnerships have on the emergency manger’s ability to prevent, mitigate, and recover from potential disasters.

New Jersey Leadership - Nancy Asaro

Nancy Asaro, Chief Administrative Officer

Nancy Asaro is a graduate of William Paterson University, NJ with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting. After six years in public accounting, she shifted her career path to the not for profit sector. For ten years she worked with United Way of Passaic County as Vice President of Finance, responsible for the overall financial and administrative management of the organization. Ms. Asaro joined American Red Cross nineteen years ago.

Since arriving at the Red Cross, she has been involved with every aspect of chapter operations enabling her to hold chapter positions as Interim CEO & COO to her current position as Chief Administrative Officer for NJ Region.

Her direct involvement with major disasters such as Hurricane Floyd and September 11th provided her experience in disaster and gave her the ability to lead the chapter’s response through many national disasters between 2005 -2008. From the Sri Lanka Tsunami to Hurricane Katrina, as well as other large operations in northern NJ service area.

Over the years, Ms. Asaro was trained as an American Red Cross Diversity Consultant, contributed as a member of the Nassau County Chapter Enrichment Program Review Team and was deployed as a team member to the Northeast Service Area #6 to implement Chapter Support Services during Hurricane Katrina.

Nancy’s current position, CAO New Jersey Region, harnesses the many skills & talents she gained over the years. Responsibilities include oversight of Facilities, Fleet, Finances, Employee Engagement. She also is liaison between National Red Cross & the NJ Region for Information Technology/Telecom, Legal, Human Resources and Risk Management. She enjoys the variety of her job; her motto is “There is never a dull day at work”.

Nancy Asaro serves as Treasurer for Children’s Day Nursery, Passaic NJ, and Secretary to the Board for Heritage Manor Association and enjoys Jazzercise, dancing & golfing. She resides in Wayne New Jersey.

New Jersey Leadership - Augusto “Gus” Penaranda

Augusto “Gus” Penaranda Jr., Chief External Relations Officer

Born to immigrant parents, Juana and Augusto Penaranda Sr., in Paterson NJ, Gus, as he is known by most, has always been a crusader for causes. Since his time in high school, he has always advocated for those in need, as an adult, Gus followed a career in Government Relations and Grassroots Community Outreach, developing a reputation of being honest, transparent and fair. His career path took him to Trenton as a Communications Officer for the NJ Schools Construction Corporation, where his main responsibilities involved Public Relations, specific to the residents, elected officials and community leaders in school districts that were part of the nine billion-dollar school’s construction program. During his time with the NJ Schools Construction Corporation, Gus was promoted to Diversity Officer tasked with increasing the participation of minority owned and women owned companies and contractors. His unique management style provided for an atmosphere of respect and teamwork which was key in the dozens of projects and programs that he oversaw. He knew how important these new schools were to the thousands of students that would attend them, which showed through his work and dedication.

His years with the NJ Schools Construction Corporation, prepared Gus for his next step as an Administrator in higher education at Passaic County Community College. This new position allowed him to return to his hometown of Paterson and work with future generations of leaders and activists along with all the other careers that his students would consider in their futures. As an Administrator and now Professor, Gus has never stopped believing that whatever career path you decide to follow in life, you should follow what makes you feel good about your work and if what you do has a purpose. Gus will continue to be a professor, but has now accepted the role of External Communications Officer for the Red Cross New Jersey Region. This position will allow his expertise in Communications, Government Relations, Management and Grassroots Outreach to come together and help continue the important work the Red Cross does across the state. This new opportunity is a perfect next step and will enable Gus to work on a variety of projects and programs that will benefit thousands in New Jersey.

New Jersey Leadership - Michele Esposito

Michelle Esposito, Chief Volunteer Services Officer

Michelle Esposito is the Regional Volunteer Services Officer for the New Jersey Region. She is currently responsible for developing and executing the volunteer recruitment and engagement strategy for the Region. She works with each line of service to determine their needs and support their volunteer engagement.

She has been with the organization for over 22 years as both volunteer and paid staff. She first joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in the Transportation Program of the Montclair Chapter. She has held several positions including Financial Administrator, Volunteer Manager and Executive Director. She is passionate about the mission of the Red Cross and is inspired daily by the dedication of the Volunteers. She holds a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and a Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA). She enjoys traveling to new places and meeting new people.

I am proud to be a part of the Red Cross because… it is an organization that helps so many people in different ways and saves lives. The amazing work could not get done without the tireless work of the volunteers.

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Terri Illes, Service to Armed Forces and International Services Director

Terri Illes brings more than eight years of volunteer and staff Red Cross experience to her role as Service to Armed Forces and International Services Director for New Jersey. In this capacity she oversees all programs dealing with Veterans, Service Members and their families and is responsible for overseeing the Red Cross Hero Care Network casework in addition to Veteran Outreach at the VA hospitals and State Memorial Veteran Homes.

Illes currently serves as an active member of Veterans Stakeholder Groups in Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Newark and Passaic Counties in addition to sitting on three NJ Stand Down planning committees. Last year she accepted the SOS Vets Stakeholders Group Veteran Provider Distinguished Award for “distinguished & exemplary service in support of the Veterans of New Jersey”. She serves on the board of the MyVA Community North Jersey and is the current chair of the MyVA Community Board in the southern counties.

Terri holds degrees in Psychology, Political Science, and Economics. Prior to joining the Red Cross she worked in a number of fields including marketing, retail, social services, and historic preservation.

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Jocelyn Gilman, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Northern NJ

Jocelyn Gilman is the Executive Director for the American Red Cross of Northern NJ, covering Essex, Passaic, Hudson, Bergen and Sussex Counties. She decided 10 years ago to follow her heart and entered the nonprofit world, simply to help those in need and to make the world a better place for all. As Executive Director, she shares the mission, vision and story of the Red Cross. She acts as a conduit, convener, connector and collaborator, to develop and strengthen relationships and partnerships with both internal and external partners. Previously she was a development professional at the Jewish Federation of Metro West and the Foundation Director of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey. In the UK, she was a corporate and banking attorney and after moving to America, she worked in Sales and Marketing for over twenty years, partnering with the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical industries. Her biggest accomplishment – being the very proud mother of 3 passionate and inspiring children.

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Christy Hodde, Executive Director, American Red Cross of New Jersey Crossroads and American Red Cross of Central New Jersey

In 2004, following 12 years in leadership roles at The Connection for Women and Families (formerly the YWCA) in Summit, Christy Hodde joined the Red Cross as Executive Director, Colonial Crossroads chapter. She currently is Executive Director of the New Jersey Crossroads and Central New Jersey chapters, the hubs for Red Cross services in seven counties and the towns of Millburn and Short Hills, overseeing three facilities with more than 1800 volunteers and two boards of directors.

During her tenure, Christy guided the merger of several chapters maintaining successful service delivery areas and building a new, consolidated board of directors. She restructured chapter fundraising and marketing functions instituting new special events and focusing on building community awareness and volunteer engagement as spokesperson. Colonial Crossroads was awarded the national distinction of “Highly Performing Chapter” four years successively, 2005 to 2008. In 2012 she served on the taskforce re-organizing New Jersey’s three regions into two.

In 2015 Christy was appointed Interim CEO of the North Jersey Region. In that capacity, she oversaw board management, marketing and public relations, fundraising, and delivery of services within 12 counties from Mercer and Middlesex up to the New York state line. She was also part of the leadership team that helped merge the North Jersey and South Jersey Regions beginning in August 2015.

Christy also served as Red Cross’s New Jersey State Relations Representative from 2008 to 2012. In this role she revived relations with elected and appointed officials and their agencies in Trenton. She stewarded five legislative bills supplementing Red Cross programs and services and was invited to speak on the Senate Assembly floor in 2010.

Christy’s service to the community extends beyond the Red Cross. She has been a member and board member of the Junior League of Summit since 1974 and a member and board member of the Rotary Club of Summit/New Providence since 2006, where she completed her tenure as President. In 2013, Christy was awarded “Woman of the Year” by the Summit Business and Professional Women’s Association, as well as the “Keeper of the Dream” award on Summit’s Martin Luther King Community Day. In 2015, she was recognized by HomeTowne Television with the “Fred Honold Award for Community Service”. Christy also serves on the Mayor’s Diversity Committee in Summit.

Christy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Drew University.

New Jersey Leadership - Nancy Orlando

Nancy Orlando, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Jersey Coast - Acting Executive Director, American Red Cross of Southwestern NJ

Nancy Orlando, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Jersey Coast Chapter, has been with the organization since 2002. During her career Nancy has served as Regional CEO, Chief Operations Officer, Director of Disaster Services, Director of Volunteers and Biomedical Services Account Manager. Nancy has also been actively involved with numerous disasters including Hurricane Katrina and most recently, Hurricane Sandy where she served as the NJ Director for Long Term Recovery. Throughout her tenure, Nancy has been the recipient of numerous awards including the American Red Cross’ Spirit of Excellence, Operation Give Hope Now, United Way’s National Relief and Recovery Partnership, Habit for Humanity’s Partnership in Disaster Recovery and Monmouth University’s Urban Coast’s State & Coastal Leadership Award.

Nancy graduated Cum Laude from Ocean County College and resides in Ocean County.

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Carol Cohen, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Southern Shore NJ

Carol Cohen currently serves as Executive Director for the Southern Shore service area, encompassing Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties and serving close to 600,000 residents. Ms. Cohen’s primary responsibilities include fundraising, oversight and management of the Board of Directors, management of the United Way relationship, volunteer recruitment and satisfaction, and community relations. In her tenure as ED, which began in September 2012, she was instrumental in re-establishing Red Cross presence throughout the service area, leading the chapter through Superstorm Sandy, reforming the Tri-County COAD following the unexpected death of its chairperson in 2014 and serving on the Executive Board until April 2016, and now serving on the COAD’s Advisory Committee. In 2013, Ms. Cohen was key in establishing CVAC, a civilian veterans advisory committee housed in Cape May County to meet the unmet needs of the veteran population. In 2013, she was nominated by United Way as a candidate for Outstanding New Executive of the Year, and in 2015 was named as Humanitarian of the Year by the Spanish Community Center.

After 35 years in private industry, the first nine of which were spent at J.P. Morgan’s prestigious headquarters at 23 Wall Street, Ms. Cohen joined the Red Cross as a volunteer with the Jersey Coast Chapter in August 2005 in answer to Hurricane Katrina. In December 2006 she was hired as a full-time employee to serve as the Lifeline Representative, a program she grew to be among the largest and most successful in the country. In 2009 she was asked to take over the chapter’s Health & Safety program as Director, and to oversee that program throughout what was then the South Jersey Region. She established the first cost analysis and margin-based budget to monitor the department’s profitability and effectiveness. In 2011, during PHS&S restructuring, she returned to the Lifeline position, now assuming responsibility for the entire state. Up until 2016, she continued to be an active DAT volunteer as well.

Ms. Cohen lives in Brick Township, and is the proud mother of two adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter.