The American Red Cross announced today that Gail McGovern will retire as president and CEO of the humanitarian organization on June 30, 2024, after more than 15 years at the helm. In line with its succession plan, the Board of Governors elected Chief Operating Officer Cliff Holtz as the next president and CEO.
As the longest-serving CEO since Clara Barton, McGovern has provided the strong and steady leadership needed to ensure this world class institution is ready to meet its vital humanitarian mission in the future.
“It has been the honor of my life to lead the American Red Cross and be part of an organization that serves millions of people at times when they are at their most vulnerable. The extraordinary skill, compassion and commitment I have seen in our more than 300,000 volunteers and employees across this country humbles me every single day,” said McGovern. “I could not be prouder of how we have stepped up to address the challenges of our time.”
McGovern has led the organization through some of the worst domestic and international disasters in the world as the number and severity of disasters continues to grow. She harnessed the power of technology to improve service delivery including developing a world-class system to ensure the highest standards of blood safety. In addition, McGovern put the Red Cross on the path to financial stability by managing expenses, enhancing fundraising, and reinvesting in service delivery. These efforts eliminated a $209 million annual operating deficit in her first two years in office. Even with all of the changes underway, employee and volunteer engagement has steadily improved each year, and the Red Cross has been recognized repeatedly for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, including being on the Forbes list of Best Employers for Diversity in 2023.
“The American Red Cross has been transformed under Gail’s brilliant leadership,” said chairman of the Board of Governors, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter. “She has led the Red Cross with the one-of-a-kind combination of her heart and her mind, bringing her deep compassion and also the superb business skills to ensure our humanitarian mission continues to be a beacon of hope and help for generations to come. We’re delighted that Gail has agreed to continue to serve on the Board of Governors.”
McGovern joined the Red Cross in 2008 from the faculty of Harvard Business School, and prior to that held leadership roles as executive vice president for AT&T’s consumer markets division, a $26 billion business, and as president of Fidelity Personal Investments, with $500 billion of assets under management.
As chief operating officer, Cliff Holtz has overseen all mission delivery for the 142-year-old organization, comprising Blood Services, Training Services, and Humanitarian Services – which includes domestic and international disaster response activities and Service to the Armed Forces. Holtz leads strategy for the organization and under his direction the organization has achieved the financial stability required to put the Red Cross on a trajectory that will enable critical investments and mission growth.
“Cliff and I have worked closely since his first day here and during the past year we have prepared for my transition. He has been integral to our progress, and I have absolute confidence and trust in his ability to assume the reins with continuity and care,” McGovern added.
Prior to joining the Red Cross, Holtz held several executive leadership positions at for-profit companies including Pelco (a Division of Schneider Electric), Nortel Networks Corp, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Qwest Communications, Gateway Corporation and AT&T, where he rose to president of metro markets, a $4.5 billion unit.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of Gail’s leadership team these past 12 years. I am grateful for the support of the Board of Governors as the Red Cross faces unprecedented humanitarian needs,” said Holtz. “Our world is changing faster than any of us have anticipated – from escalating climate-driven disasters to a rise in tragic mass casualty events, the growing need to increase and diversify our blood donor base and complex international crises. People rely on us to be there. And it is my commitment to our country and to my colleagues that the Red Cross will be there for them, no matter what.”
These leadership transitions will go into effect in July 2024.