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Women Philanthropists Attend Red Cross Summit

Women across the country are changing the face of philanthropy—and they’re doing it through the American Red Cross.

Members of the Tiffany Circle traveled to Washington, D.C., for a two-day summit to celebrate and be inspired by the work of the Red Cross.

The Tiffany Circle is a society of women leaders and philanthropists who invest $10,000 annually in their local Red Cross chapters. By doing so, these women follow in the footsteps of a long line of women leaders who have helped the Red Cross serve the American public in times of war and peace with disaster assistance, blood collection, safety training and countless other community services.

The summit’s opening dinner highlighted the Red Cross support of U.S. service members and their families, and featured speakers Lt. General Kathleen Gainey and correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern spoke on Monday morning, giving a “State of the Red Cross” address to the audience. McGovern also gave an overview of the relief operation in Haiti and commented on both the triumphs and challenges the Red Cross has experienced.

Red Cross Stories The power of individuals to impact their communities and the world was heard in many women’s stories during the summit. Ann Compton, journalist and White House correspondent, led an interactive discussion with several panelists to discover how their lives had been touched by the Red Cross.

Cathy Keating, former first lady of Oklahoma, described the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. In the explosion’s aftermath, first responders were at the scene, risking their lives to save anyone they could. At one moment, Keating looked around, and on the corner were the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, providing food, water and coffee to rescue workers, without any concern for their own safety.

Now, Keating says, “I’m committed for life to the Red Cross.”

Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis and Martha Allen each spoke of the Red Cross legacy in their lives. Jarvis is the daughter of Dr. Charles Drew, a pioneer in blood banking and transfusion. Allen got involved with the Red Cross as a teenage lifeguard, and now has recruited several family members—including her two daughters—into the ranks of the Red Cross.

Elisabeth Rohm, actress and trained Red Cross volunteer, described how she started volunteering for the Red Cross by giving 100 hours of her time. Rohm’s experiences include serving as an emergency volunteer in New York and volunteering at military hospitals in the Washington area.

“Your world becomes so much bigger when you’re a part of the Red Cross,” Rohm said.

Kim Leonard and her husband found a way to turn tragedy into a way to help others. When their son tragically drowned as a toddler, the Leonards responded by creating a foundation in honor of their son to promote water safety. She and her husband wrote “Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim,” and became partners with the Red Cross aquatics programs to ensure others won’t suffer the same loss they endured.

In addition to its many inspirational speakers, the summit also gave participants a chance to attend educational sessions on subjects such as women’s philanthropy and how to prepare one’s family for emergencies.

The summit closed on Monday evening with a reception and dinner at the Embassy of Italy, featuring remarks by journalist Judy Woodruff and a performance by vocalist Romina Arena.