After 23 years of working with the American Red Cross, Rita Chick, Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Cruz County Chapter and Interim CEO for the Monterey Bay Area Chapter is retiring.
Those who know Rita credit her ability to bring people together at local, national, and international levels.
“Rita is a HR professional and expert on the subtleties of helping both volunteers and employees to succeed in the Red Cross,” said Mark Cloutier, American Red Cross CEO for the Gateway to the Golden State Region and the Bay Area Chapter, who began his position in June. “Rita always has the right touch to everything she engages in.”
Harold Brooks, who worked with Rita for nearly 15 years while he was the Regional CEO, said the Red Cross was lucky to have her.
“Rita is a connector,” he said. “People who have encountered Rita have a great affection and fondness for her.”
As a member of the Disaster Services Workforce, Rita has been part of numerous disaster responses supporting staff services and was deployed to Guam for an airline incident. Rita said the people she met from her Red Cross travels are the real highlights of her career.
Chris Maffia, the former President of the Santa Cruz County Chapter Board said Rita helped the executive committee to recruit several key individuals from the community, which included local police officials, city and county leaders, and important business leaders.
“Harold gave us a real gift when he sent Rita to our office,” Chris said of Rita taking the helm at the Santa Cruz County Chapter three years ago.
Rita began her Red Cross career in 1989 as the Director of the Office of Volunteers at the San Gabriel Pomona Valley Chapter in Pasadena. She moved north in 1998 when she accepted the position of Director of Volunteer Resources at the Bay Area Chapter in San Francisco. In 2001, Rita became Chief Human Resources Officer, responsible for employees and volunteers at the Bay Area Chapter.
The dedication of the Red Cross volunteers amazes Rita. Harold said she reinforced the importance of appreciating volunteers, some of whom wake up in the middle of the night to assist those affected by local disasters, like home fires.
“Time is so precious,” Rita said. “Thank you is not enough. I am so proud to know these people who give so much.”
As Rita nears the end of her long commutes from her home in San Rafael to the Santa Cruz County Chapter office in Santa Cruz, and the Monterey Bay Area Chapter office in Carmel, she says she is excited to spend more time with her cat, Piccolo, and to travel with her husband, Leo.
“Rita is a great lady and I loved working with her,” Chris said. “I am really going to miss her.”