The Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross is hosting its seventh Women’s Leadership Summit this weekend in Washington, D.C.
The summit, which has gathered more than 200 women philanthropists from across the nation who support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross, features guest speakers, educational sessions, and one of country music’s biggest stars.
The Tiffany Circle started in 2006 with 200 women pledging $10,000 annually to their local Red Cross chapters. Today the group has over 900 members in the U.S, plus members in Canada, Great Britain and France. Since inception, the Tiffany Circle has raised over $51 million for the Red Cross.
Doris Kearns Goodwin on Barton and Lincoln
Author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke at the Leadership Dinner on Friday night. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Goodwin wrote Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, upon which Steven Spielberg based his film Lincoln, released in 2012.
She discussed the importance of story, memories and learning from history. She said Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, was “a woman to make all of us incredibly proud.”
Goodwin noted a parallel between Lincoln and Barton. Just as Barton travelled to battlefields and hospitals to care for the sick and wounded during the Civil War, Lincoln’s instinct was to visit those places, as well, to be a source of comfort and encouragement to those in the thick of the battle.
A Message from the Red Cross President and CEO
Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern addressed the group on Saturday morning. “This is a collection of the most amazing women who are driving philanthropy in this country,” she said.
McGovern thanked the members for their support, gave her personal thoughts on what she has learned in five years leading the Red Cross and shared stories of Hurricane Sandy survivors.
Crediting the Red Cross with making her a kinder person and “more thankful for the things that truly matter,” McGovern said leading the Red Cross is a privilege and has taught her to lead with her head and her heart.
Growing up in and around New York City, she described Hurricane Sandy’s personal sting. “It was surreal to see the place I was born, the place where my grandparents lived, the corner in Newark where my dad’s practice was, the amusement parks I frequented, all severely damaged.”
Through the power of 17,000 disaster workers—90 percent of whom are volunteers—she said the Red Cross delivered services to the densely populated, 900-square-mile region, where supply trucks were quickly emptied and volunteers were climbing high-rise buildings to reach people in need.
She noted the strength she saw in an elderly woman in New York who had lost everything but kept telling her daughter that at least they had each other. She described another couple in Long Island who was greatly impacted by Sandy but decided to join the volunteers and serve meals on Thanksgiving.
McGovern closed by telling the story of a man she had met on a recent trip to Atlanta who thanked her for how the Red Cross had rescued him from despair while he was serving in the Navy. However, becoming so overwrought with emotion, he simply shook his head and walked away, unable to tell her his story.
“Sometimes we’ll never fully know the impact we can have on the lives of others,” she said.
After McGovern’s speech, a group of experts on women’s health, entrepreneurship and educating children in philanthropy will participate in a panel discussion. Saturday night, the Tiffany Circle will honor country music star Trace Adkins, who was helped by the Red Cross when his family survived a fire.
Adkins is competing on behalf of the Red Cross on this season of Donald Trump’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC. Adkins will compete against magician Penn Jillette in Sunday’s season finale on NBC at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. Adkins has already raised over $700,000 for the Red Cross through his participation with the show this season.