In January, Ginaia Kelly took the helm as the Community Chapter Executive for the American Red Cross Santa Cruz County Chapter. She is the first full-time executive to represent the organization in three years, and she’s diving in, saying her new role is not a job, but a 24/7 passion.
“To be part of the Red Cross and be able to provide support, comfort, and hope to my neighbors is the ultimate reward,” she said. “I am honored and thrilled to give back to the community I love.”
She and her husband, Tom, settled in Santa Cruz 25 years ago, and then firmly put down roots when they built their Davenport home in 2003. Before that, she had opened her law office on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, next door to a gaping hole left from the demolished historic Cooper building following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Ginaia knew she wanted to help revitalize the area that was destroyed by the 6.9-magnitude quake and she joined the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz.
Over the years, Ginaia went on to join and work for numerous local groups, including Ride A Wave, Best Day Foundation, Women Lawyers of Santa Cruz, Save The Waves Coalition, and as presidents of both Save Our Shores and the Santa Cruz County Bar Association. She said she is consistently impressed with the loyal and dedicated community.
From a record-setting gymnast as a UC Santa Barbara undergrad to a professional high diver traveling the world over the period of eight years, she is just as competitive as she is passionate. She fell in love with surfing during Law School at the University of San Diego, joined the surfing team, and went on to compete in the Women’s Longboard World Championships in Costa Rica. She continues to compete in beach volleyball, longboarding, and snowboarding.
With a unique connection to the Santa Cruz culture, including the surfing and volleyball communities, Ginaia hopes to increase awareness of how the Red Cross can assist the community in its continued efforts to keep the area safe and vibrant.
“I look forward to having a few ‘board’ meetings in the water,” she said.
Learn more about the Santa Cruz County Chapter Leadership: http://www.redcross.org/ca/santa-cruz/about-us/leadership