Jessica Gilbertson joined the Red Cross staff as the West Dakota Executive Director on April 30. She comes to the organization from a background in non-profit work. Most recently, Gilbertson served as the Grassroots Relationship Manager for the American Cancer Society Action Network, coordinating government relations and fundraising/outreach events.
Prior to ACS, Gilbertson served two years as the Prevention Program Specialist at the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services, after serving as the Partnership Program Coordinator for NCI’s Cancer Information Service.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication from North Dakota State University and a Master of Science in Public Administration through the University of North Dakota. Jessica and husband Mike have two children and reside in Bismarck.
Learn a little more about Jessica, in her own words
Why did you want to work at the Red Cross?
The Red Cross has an outstanding reputation among non-profit organizations. The mission of helping people during their most vulnerable times is such a worthy cause and I am so grateful to be part of it.
What in your work experiences has prepared you to be the new Chapter Executive?
I have been involved in all aspects of non-profits from events to writing grants and presentations. My background in events, from fundraisers to awareness events, will be extremely helpful. I also have a background in public speaking and enjoy giving presentations and look forward to sharing information about the Red Cross across the region.
You have a history of working in non-profits. What got you interested in them and why have you stayed?
It’s important to me to work for an organization I believe in and to feel like I am working to help people. The Red Cross has such an amazing mission; it makes it easy to come to work each day. The work in the non-profit sector is so incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing like the feeling that you have made a difference. I also think it’s important to teach my kids that you should try to make a difference in the world around you.
What are some of the plans you have for the West Dakota Chapter?
There are all sorts of possibilities right now for the Chapter and the Region. As I am learning about the organization, I have had several ideas for special events or community activities that we could get involved in. I would like to see the Red Cross take a higher profile in the western part of the state by sharing our expertise on preparedness and emergency response with those responsible for the growth in western North Dakota.
In your first week you had a big event, how did that go for you?
My first week on the job we held our second annual Ruby Force event in Bismarck and it was outstanding. I had a great time meeting new people in the community and getting to know some of our board members. More importantly, I think the participants enjoyed the evening and we raised some money for the work of the Red Cross. Of course, it gave me a lot of ideas for next years event, but overall it was a great introduction for me to the Red Cross.
In your first month, what has been the one thing you learned about the Red Cross that was surprising to you?
The Red Cross has an amazing history as an organization. Before starting my job, I knew of their services in teaching lifesaving skills and their expertise on disaster and emergency services, but the one thing that I did not know about was Red Cross military services. It’s truly an honor that the Red Cross works so closely with military families to do what we can do to help with communication in times of emergencies. There is a lot more to learn and I am anxious to get going.