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Ron Farina Retires after 40 Years with the LA Red Cross

Ron Farina Retires after 40 Years
The bonding between paid and volunteer staff creates a synergy that makes the Red Cross special.

Ron Farina has worn many hats during his 40 years as a Red Cross employee. From his first job as the L.A. Chapter’s Southeast L.A. Service Center Director in the mid-1970s to his current role as Northern Valleys Chapter Executive Director, Ron says that much has changed at the Red Cross over the years. However, he stresses that one important thing remains the same: the special and important partnership between Red Cross paid and volunteer staff.

“That bonding creates a wonderful synergy that makes the Red Cross special,” said Ron, who is retiring June 1.
Ron began his Red Cross and community involvement as a high school student at Los Angeles’ Cathedral High School, where he was president of the service club and a member of the Red Cross club. The L.A. native, who grew up near Dodger Stadium, then volunteered on the Red Cross East L.A. District Board of Directors before beginning his long and distinguished career as Red Cross employee.

After that first job in Southeast L.A., he was asked to organize a new Los Angeles Chapter service center in Koreatown in 1980 serving the greater downtown L.A. area and Hollywood. With the highest number of single family and multi-family fires in L.A. County, Ron was kept busy opening numerous disaster shelters at Belmont High School and Berendo Junior High for residents who had been displaced by apartment and hotel fires.

After that, Ron was appointed the L.A. Chapter’s Director of School Relations and Youth Activities, helping raise funds for the Mexico City Earthquake in 1985 and overseeing a successful campaign with LAUSD for African Famine Relief. He re-organized the Youth Leadership Development Center by appointing an all-volunteer management team and moving the event to Pilgrim Pines Camp in Yucaipa, where it continues to this day.

After a two-year stint as a loaned executive to the United Way, Ron became an L.A. Chapter Associate Manager in 1988, supervising eight district offices, Emergency Services, Health & Education Services, Health Fair Expo and Kids Care Fair.

One of Ron’s proudest accomplishments took place during this time, when he negotiated a contract with the State Dept. of Health allowing the Red Cross to conduct Nurse Assistant Training and testing throughout California. The L.A. Chapter oversaw the statewide program and the contract is still in place today. In addition, following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Ron traveled to Washington D.C. to negotiate the first AmeriCorps program grant. The Red Cross AmeriCorps’ Safe Corps program is still thriving today.

In 1995, Ron accepted the position of Executive Director for the Glendale Chapter of the American Red Cross. Under his leadership, the Glendale area’s local disaster action team volunteers responded to many single family fires each year, opened shelters during larger disasters, like the Station Fire, and supported the Glendale Police Department with canteen services. In addition, Ron worked closely with NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman to co-produce 20 Comedy Night fundraisers, which began after Coleman’s neighborhood was evacuated after the College Hills Fire. Over the years, Ron has created partnerships with city departments, the school district, businesses and other non-profits. His ability to work with all segments of the community helped make the Red Cross  an essential part of the community’s safety net, now and in the future.

One of Ron’s fondest Red Cross moments happened in 2003 when he was awarded the national Red Cross’ Tiffany Award - the highest award given for excellence in management. He accepted the award at the Red Cross convention from the national CEO.
“I did not plan on making Red Cross a career but I was always given new roles and responsibilities; it was ever changing and always challenging,” said Ron.

When asked what he will miss the most, Farina said, “There’s a special recognition that you receive from friends and strangers alike when you tell someone that you work for the American Red Cross or how you are helping people with a new program or service. That’s magical.”

Thank you, Ron, for your 40 years of incredible service. We will miss you!