Every two years, the Board of Directors from the Central New York Chapter of the American Red Cross appoints a new Board Chair. Rita Reicher, former Vice Chair, was recently named by the Board to replace Dorothy “Dot” Hall as Chair of the third-oldest Red Cross Chapter in the country (132 years old this fall!).
The transition from Hall to Reicher had been anticipated and well-orchestrated. Reicher has been ready and willing to assume more responsibility since she accepted the position of Vice Chair, which signified her intention to eventually become Chair.
This smooth transition can be attributed to the fruitful relationship that Hall and Reicher have developed during their terms as Chair and Vice Chair. Hall was tasked with two goals at the start of her term in 2011: appointing a Chief Executive Officer for the CNY Chapter, and finding a new location for the CNY headquarters. Hall decided to split up these two tasks between her and Reicher.
“I have a 30-year background in human resources,” Hall said. “So it was a good fit for me to search for a new CEO while Rita focused on finding us a building that would better suit our needs for the future.”
The tandem of Hall and Reicher proved effective. Rosie Taravella, a dynamic Regional CEO, was hired eight months after the search started, and in early June the Chapter moved into a magnificent new office at 344 W. Genesee St. in downtown Syracuse.
While Hall’s accomplishments as Chapter Chair enabled the Chapter to make significant strides, her connection with the Red Cross goes much deeper than CEOs and new offices. When Hall was 18, she lost her house in a fire.
“The Red Cross responded immediately and they were phenomenal in helping me,” Hall said.
The Red Cross continued to support Hall throughout the years by providing blood when her mother and sister were diagnosed with cancer. The Red Cross also provided care for her other sister’s child when she was involved in a car accident.
While Hall’s relationship with the Red Cross started on a personal level, Reicher’s relationship with the non-profit started on a professional level. The American Red Cross was Reicher’s first client 30 years ago, when she and others founded KS&R, a market research firm headquartered in Syracuse. She sat on the Board of Directors for three years and is now eager to take on the role of Chapter Chair.
“I am very committed to the non-profit world in general,” Reicher said. “The Red Cross has a dear spot in my heart and I thought that was something I could do and do well.”
Reicher believes that the logistical decisions that have been made regarding restructuring, staffing and the new office have laid the groundwork for the Chapter’s continued success. She aims to utilize the community, especially youth, to help grow the CNY Chapter. Reicher believes that establishing volunteerism at a young age will greatly benefit the Red Cross in the future.
For Hall, a relationship with the Red Cross is certain for the foreseeable future. She will maintain her role on the Disaster Services Committee and is exploring the possibility of a Regional Council role after her term on the Board ends in three years.
As Reicher starts her journey as Chapter Chair, she knows that she’ll always be able to turn to Hall for advice.
“She’s always an e-mail or call away,” Reicher said. “She’s been a great mentor.”