Author, Pioneer, Philanthropist
“(It’s) important to nourish organizations that collaborate, are socially responsible and are in service of others.”
Maja Kristin is committed to making a positive difference on the lives of people and their communities. Her lifework underscores a passion for bridging differences and inspiring philanthropy to support worthwhile causes. Maja has been a loyal supporter of the American Red Cross since 2017 and cares deeply about the work we do to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
As a North Bay resident, Maja knows first-hand the importance of disaster preparedness due to the repeated fires she’s experienced over the last few years. She owns a horse farm and has prepared it to be a rescue site while also implementing her own evacuation plan in case of an emergency. With the ongoing increased need for Red Cross services due to the pandemic and climate related disasters, Maja recently increased her investment in our mission with a remarkable gift of $1.5 million!
Maja reflects that the word “philanthropy” originates from the Greek word meaning “love of humanity.” She feels it important to nourish organizations that collaborate, are socially responsible and are in service of others. We are deeply grateful that Maja recognizes these qualities in the work of the Red Cross.
Maja grew up in a challenging environment, the San Francisco housing projects, and worked her way through college and law school. Just two years after passing the bar exam, she started her own law firm, a nearly unprecedented move for a woman. She promptly became a successful advocate for a previously under-served class of people. Her pioneering work led to her selection by TIME magazine as one of "America's Top Ten Women Lawyers."
Maja’s relationships with other women hold a special place in her life. Honoring her female ancestors is an essential part of her spirituality, and she has completed a three-generational memoir about herself, her mother, and her grandmother entitled Instructions Not Included. Her philanthropic undertakings reflect her dedication to ensuring equality for women and other disadvantaged people. Maja could not be a better embodiment of our Tiffany Circle, and we’re inspired by the immense difference she makes in the world.
DAT volunteer, Silicon Valley Chapter Board VP & Tiffany Circle Member
“The Red Cross is the best of humanity.”
Eve Dreyfuss believes, “the Red Cross is the best of humanity." However, as a mother, Vice President of the Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter Board, a Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteer, and a valued Tiffany Circle member, we believe Eve embodies the true Red Cross humanitarian spirit.
In November 2018, Eve was listening to live updates on the fires in Paradise, California. She learned of the devastating impact to lives and communities. Homes destroyed; lives lost. It was unbelievable. The news mentioned that emergency shelters were being set up in parking lots, only to have to move due to fire danger. She wondered who was operating these shelters in such circumstances. Who would voluntarily walk into such dangerous conditions and take on the risk of fire danger, or breathing in hazardous smoke? When she realized it was the American Red Cross - many of them volunteers - she knew she had to get involved.
The very next day, one of Eve’s clients called and asked if she would help raise funds for the Red Cross to assist with the wildfire response. Eve was working as a Partner at Moss Adam’s at the time and did not hesitate to promptly meet with the Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Red Cross Chapter so she could provide immediate support. With Eve’s ability to jump into action and make strategic connections, it’s no surprise that she was also honored by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of their 2021 Women of Influence.
Eve recently retired from her long and successful career in public accounting and is looking forward to dedicating even more time to helping people in need. Her participation on the frontlines as a Red Cross Sound the Alarm volunteer working to install free smoke alarms and as a DAT volunteer to help people throughout the Bay Area following a disaster brings her the most joy. She reflects, "(Red Cross volunteers) provide, love, care, and support to whomever is suffering from a disaster, no matter their background...the Red Cross is going to be a huge part of my life going forward.”
Thank you for all that you do, Eve. As a trailblazer and committed Red Crosser, we are so honored to serve alongside you and count you as one of our Tiffany Circle sisters.
Red Cross Chief Development Officer
“As a mother with two young daughters, I want them to know the power of paying it forward – this is one of the reasons I’m a part of this really impactful group.”
Corporate foundations leader and Tiffany Circle member
“I live in CA and was in one of the big earthquakes and have experienced wildfires and other disasters. That’s why it is so important to me that we prepare and get ready for disasters because they are just coming. That is why I give to the Red Cross and am a member of the Tiffany Circle.”
A letter from our Tiffany Circle Co-Chair
“Throughout history women have been instrumental in humanitarian work around the world. The Tiffany Circle is an important part of that work.”
Hello fellow NCCR Tiffany Circle Members,
My name is Megan Erk and I am thrilled to be serving with Nisha Baxi as co-chair for the Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR) Tiffany Circle. I first became involved with the American Red Cross in 2010 as a disaster response volunteer. My first national deployment was in 2011 as part of the team deployed to New York after Hurricane Irene had caused extensive flooding that leveled multiple small towns in and around the Adirondack Mountains. During that deployment I primarily worked on an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) in the field helping to feed the thousands of people impacted by the flooding. The damage to the areas we served was heartbreaking to see firsthand. We would drive into an area that had once been a thriving mountain community only to see complete devastation. What impacted me the most and made me want to devote my time to the Red Cross was seeing how resilient and kind people are, even when they are facing the darkest days of their lives.
What broke me as an animal lover was that in town after town there were destroyed homes that were off their foundations and partially or completely collapsed. The homeowners had come back not to try to retrieve possessions but to leave food and water out on what was left of their porches or front yards for family pets who had disappeared during the flooding. I spoke to multiple people who were more worried about their pets than losing their homes. That deployment started my Red Cross journey in earnest. Eleven years and many deployments later I can honestly say that being a Red Cross volunteer has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done.
Throughout 2020 as Covid-19 swept over the globe the American Red Cross was there to support those in need. Like we have done for 140 years. Through the 1918 pandemic, in war time, and in times of peace the Red Cross is there. The Red Cross is the one organization that can always be counted on to serve those experiencing unimaginable loss. I spent most of the first half of 2020 working blood drives, then came August 16th, 2020 and the lightning storm that caused fires that would decimate parts of California, including the Central Coast. During the fires I served as the Red Cross Liaison to the Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Many of us working at the EOC were evacuees as well as responders. Even though we were in the middle of a pandemic with no vaccine available everyone just masked up, came together, and worked day after day, night after night to help those in dire need of assistance.
When asked to become a member of the Tiffany Circle, I jumped at the opportunity to join this esteemed group of women who donate their time, talent, and treasure to help advance the Red Cross mission. Throughout history women have been instrumental in humanitarian work around the world. The Tiffany Circle is an important part of that work. I am fortunate to be able to donate my time and money so that the Red Cross can carry out it’s mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Really looking forward to being able to meet all of you when it is safe to come together again. In the meantime, I am excited to join Nisha as co-chair of the NCCR Tiffany Circle and discover creative ways to bring us all together virtually for now. If you have any ideas for activities or events you think might be interesting for the group, please let me know.
Since we can’t come together in person right now, I wanted to let everyone know a little bit about me. Within the Red Cross I currently serve as the Pacific Division External Relations Lead. I also serve as the volunteer partner for the CEO of the Central Coast Chapter, Michele Averill, and Executive Board Member for the Central Coast Chapter. My professional and educational experience is quite diverse. I hold a master’s degree in Biological Anthropology with a focus in Forensic Anthropology and am currently in the process of getting my second master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State with an Emergency Management / Homeland Security focus. GO GREEN! Just found out a few weeks ago that I was accepted into Georgetown’s Executive Master’s Program in Emergency and Disaster Management. GO HOYA’S! Really excited to start that program next month. Hoping that I can translate what I learn at Georgetown into actionable knowledge to inform my work with the Red Cross. I also worked for years as the Deputy Director for the San Jose Jr. Sharks hockey club. GO TEAL!
Really looking forward to working with all of you to advance the mission of the Red Cross.
Heartbreaking Loss Inspires Philanthropy
“Fires are like earthquakes. They could happen anywhere and when they do, lots of people get hurt. That’s when others like the Red Cross have to step up and help out.”
With admiration and respect for Maureen, we are humbled to share her Red Cross story with her fellow Tiffany Circle members.
The Red Cross has been present in many instances throughout Maureen and her family's history, but the most unforgettable time was after a home fire in 2004. Maureen, her husband, and their three young sons returned to their recently remodeled home in Los Altos only to learn they had lost everything. So many special family mementos and memories are gone, all because of a poor-quality light fixture installed in the kitchen, Maureen later learned after the fire investigation. There are many moments from this experience that are hard to forget, but one that will always stand out was the Red Cross’s prompt response. The Red Cross responded even sooner than their insurance company, although both parties played a crucial role in the family’s recovery. Maureen knew the value of investing in a strong insurance policy because her parents lost their home in a fire just a few years prior – a loss that made this home fire even more devasting since the few items salvaged then were now gone.
“Fires are like earthquakes. They could happen anywhere and when they do, lots of people get hurt. If you're a person of means you’re better off but if not, there is no cushion to cover that gap while families get back on their feet. That’s when others like the Red Cross have to step up and help out.” Thanks to donors like Maureen, who generously supports our wildfire work every year, the Red Cross is there for those who need compassionate care and resources to plan their recovery after a fire takes everything. When Maureen see’s pictures of families standing over the pile of ashes of what used to be their home, it breaks her heart because she knows what that feels like. She poignantly described the experience of wondering where a special family item is, only to remember that it was one of many things that was lost. Her second son is also committed to preventing loss from fires by dedicating his career to firefighting. For seven years, he has worked as a seasonal wildland firefighter and now has entered the CalFire Academy to become a full-time, career wildland firefighter. He is one of the many honorable firefighters who assist the Red Cross in the removal of damaged goods and land after a wildfire.
Maureen generously contributes her time and treasure to other meaningful causes in addition to the Red Cross. Currently, she is consulting part-time in the biotechnology industry, specifically oncology and volunteering for UCSF’s Catalyst Program where she mentors research investigators working to translate their discoveries into clinical reality. She is also a committed patron of education and the arts and enjoys supporting the organizations she loves through her donor advised fund. “I had so much fun in establishing a donor advised fund and being a part of giving money away. It’s a really cool feeling to know you can have a really big impact.”
In her free time, Maureen enjoys admiring San Francisco’s art and history on foot and exploring her family's genealogy.
Maureen’s resilience and compassion are an inspiration to us all, and it is an honor to have her as a committed member of our Red Cross family.
From High School Volunteer to Tiffany Circle Leader
“To see all these amazing women work together to make the Red Cross what it is today is a wonderful thing.”
We are thrilled to announce Nisha Baxi as our new Tiffany Circle co-chair.
Nisha’s Red Cross story began during her freshman year at Lynbrook High School (San Jose, CA) when she saw a Red Cross club flyer posted in the hallway and decided to attend a club meeting. Nisha says she’s been hooked on the Red Cross ever since her first visit to the local chapter office. Nisha made an incredible impact engaging and fundraising in just four short years that when she journeyed off to Loyola University of Chicago for college, the Silicon Valley Chapter named their annual youth volunteer award in her honor- The Nisha Baxi Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.
“As a high schooler, I thought maybe I would end up in medicine as my mother is an RN but I realized there are multiple ways you can help people besides becoming a doctor or a nurse.”
Nisha’s motivation to help people through the Red Cross is infectious. Over the years, she has inspired countless members of her family and extended community to serve as volunteers and make generous gifts. Naturally, she even recruited her boyfriend, now husband Neel, to volunteer and serve on the Silicon Valley Chapter Board. When asked what part of the Red Cross mission she’s most passionate about, Nisha shared, “I love how we mobilize an insane amount of volunteers. Red Cross has an amazing staff and so many volunteers that love what they do.”
Nisha has provided invaluable leadership to the Red Cross over the last 20 years. Her past and current positions include Silicon Valley Chapter board member, Silicon Valley Philanthropy Committee Chair, Gala Committee member and Youth Services Advisory Council member. After attending the 2019 national Tiffany Circle Summit in Washington D.C., she was excited to join this prominent group of female philanthropists. She reflected that “To see all these amazing women work together to make the Red Cross what it is today is a wonderful thing.”
In addition to Nisha’s Red Cross activities, she’s busy enjoying a successful marketing career and currently serves as the Head of Community at Gong. We know the Northern California Tiffany Circle will continue to grow and thrive under Nisha’s leadership, and she is looking forward to getting to know all her fellow members and helping however she can. Congratulations and thank you, Nisha!
Honoring Tiffany Circle Co-Chair's 60 Years of Red Cross Service
"My mother was renown in that Red Cross era which afforded a brilliant venue for helping shape my civic volunteerism. Being engaged in saving lives leaves a legacy of very tangible and meaningful humanitarian work.”
We are humbled to spotlight our Tiffany Circle Co-Chair and volunteer extraordinaire, Camille McCormack. In honor of Military Appreciation Month, we are thrilled to recognize Camille’s 60 years of dedicated service – she is a true Red Cross champion.
Camille was born into a San Francisco Bay Area family, her mother having received her training as a Red Cross Water Safety and Lifesaving Instructor in 1949. “My mother was renown in that Red Cross era which afforded a brilliant venue for helping shape my civic volunteerism. Being engaged in saving lives leaves a legacy of very tangible and meaningful humanitarian work.” When her mother became wheelchair-bound in the polio epidemic of 1954, three-year-old Camille learned quickly to be her right-hand assistant. She learned problem solving, teamwork, and compassion; all very foundational to her future dedication to service.
Though Camille resonates fully with the breadth and depth of the Red Cross mission, Service to the Armed Forces is closest to her heart. She comes from a long line of men and women who have supported and served our country since its founding; her greatest grandfather (five greats) crossed the Delaware as a general alongside General Washington. Her great-great grandfather fought alongside General Sherman in the Civil War and both her great-grandmother and grandmother joined World War efforts through the Army and Navy. Her great-grandfather served in the Army in both WWI and WWII, and her father served as an Army medical officer surgeon during WWII and the Korean War. Camille remembers her visits, as a very young child, to the Bay Area VA hospital with her father and the indelible impression left upon her.
Camille had a successful career as an independent law professional. She shared, “Women have tirelessly worked to define the intersect of both their domestic and professional challenges in a time of expanded opportunity.” With her MBA, awards, and acknowledgements for many endeavors, Camille believes that, “The future is beckoning women to engage in impactful philanthropic efforts which, at our societal juncture, demand our utmost. Let us move forward and make our noble womanhood of great relevance in these times.”
Camille has embodied those words by dedicating her time, treasure, and talent to the American Red Cross. She selflessly volunteers over 1,000 hours each year and has taught CPR, installed smoke alarms, presented Challenge Coins to service members, and even deployed to Ground Zero after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Camille helped found the Hawaii Tiffany Circle in 2007 and was an original member of the Bonnie McElveen-Hunter Giving Society. Her dedication and service have been nationally recognized with much deserved awards like the American Red Cross Humanitarian Award and special recognition such as the Governor's Commendation and a Presidential Pin.
In honor of the anniversary of Camille’s 60-year-long dedication to the Red Cross, and tribute to the Tiffany Circle windows we would like to share one of her favorite poems, Santa Filomena “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1857,” which honors nurse Florence Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War: “Lo! In that house of misery / A lady with a lamp I see / Pass through the glimmering gloom, / And flit from room to room. / A lady with a lamp shall stand / In the great history of the land, / A noble type of good, / Heroic womanhood. / Nor even shall be wanting here / The palm, the lily, and the spear, / The symbols that of yore / Saint Filomena bore.”
Humanitarian and Community Leader
“Women inspire women and when it comes to philanthropy, women hold a major role. We can think very broadly, and we can think very dynamically. We can envision and feel the intangible, and this is really our strength.”
We are thrilled to honor Tiffany Circle member and community leader, Emily Lo, in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month coming up in May.
Growing up in Hong Kong while it was still a British colony, Emily attended a high school run by American missionaries. Experiencing a melting pot of eastern and western cultures instilled a deep sense of understanding and value for cultural diversity in her. When Emily moved to Japan with her husband and two young children, she experienced a gender gap in the culture, which fueled her passion for gender equality. Ultimately, Emily and her family moved to Saratoga, California, where her passion for diversity, equality, and humanity grew even more.
Although Emily was first introduced to the Red Cross in Hong Kong, her true involvement started later in life when she began contributing to support those affected by disasters, both in America and across the globe. Emily said “there is no geographic boundary when it comes to disasters, they can hit anywhere and affect anyone. I just can’t imagine being in such a helpless situation with such grief and loss, so I really feel for people who are affected by disasters.” Emily believes that there are so many organizations out there, but when you only have so much time in the day, you want to choose the one that is going to make the biggest difference, she feels Red Cross is that organization.
Emily feels that America has demonstrated strong leadership globally in volunteerism and philanthropy, a culture which she truly appreciates. “When I came to America and saw a well-established structure of volunteerism…that was something that was very fascinating to me and something I hope to pass on to the next generation.” This sentiment inspired Emily to dedicate much of her time to making her community a better and brighter place to live.
When her family moved to Saratoga in 1995, Emily began her community work as the principal of a Chinese Language School, an institution that was mostly run by volunteers. She then went on to serve as Co-President of the PTA, while also starting her own promotional products business. After her kids graduated, Emily decided to commit her time to the broader community and was elected as the President of the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce. In 2010 she was elected to city council and served for eight years, two terms as the Mayor of Saratoga. After completing her term on City Council in late 2018, Emily continued to get involved in her community, serving as Vice Chair of Hakone Foundation and Board Member of a grassroots organization called “WIRE for Women” which helps promote gender equity in politics by recruiting more women for elected and appointed positions.
Emily is honored to be part of the Tiffany Circle. She believes that “women inspire women and when it comes to philanthropy, women hold a major role. We can think very broadly, and we can think very dynamically. We can envision and feel the intangible, and this is really our strength.” Emily deeply values each of the Red Cross’ fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. She is committed to highlighting these values and believes that the Red Cross needs to continue sharing strong “messages of equity, understanding, and solidarity.”
Thank you, Emily, for your unwavering dedication to the Red Cross and humanity as a whole – we are truly fortunate to have you standing by our side.
Helping Others through Legacy Planning
“The fund gives me so much joy as it is really fun to call up dedicated people in some wonderful organization to tell them you believe in what they are doing and you are going to support them.”
During this Red Cross and Women’s History Month, I’m excited to spotlight Tiffany Circle member Barbara Cannella. Barbara is someone who truly demonstrates what it means to be a humanitarian and exhibits her commitment to helping others daily. Barbara enjoyed a 30-year career as a Resource Specialist in education, and currently spends endless hours volunteering for organizations she cares deeply about. She also generously supports those charities with financial gifts.
Barbara first became involved with the Red Cross in the early 90’s after a major disaster occurred. She read a call to action in the newspaper, “If you want to help, you can make a donation to the Red Cross.” And that’s just what she did. She was inspired to continue giving when she learned the Red Cross is there immediately when a disaster occurs. She even took a tour of a Red Cross warehouse and saw behind-the-scenes planning and logistics that take place before, during, and after a disaster. During that tour she had the opportunity to speak directly with a Red Cross Disaster Action volunteer and learn about what they do. She remains awed by it all.
Throughout this past year, Barbara was forced to shift some of her volunteer activities due to the pandemic. However, it certainly did not slow her down. Before COVID-19 she was very active installing smoke alarms in people’s homes through the Sound the Alarm campaign at the Red Cross. Because she was unable to continue that activity, she started volunteering from home by participating in the Missing Maps project working with the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. Each year, disasters around the world kill nearly 100,000 and affect or displace 200 million people. Many of the places where these disasters occur are literally 'missing' from any map which make it hard for first responders to make lifesaving decisions when these vulnerable communities need them most. Barbara has spent many hours helping to map and on International Women’s Day Barbara joined over 150 other women to map a town in Tanzania.
Barbara also was able to adapt some of her other existing volunteer commitments to virtual. She continues tutoring a young man through “A Home Away from Homelessness” program and has found the silver linings of this new virtual environment. Barbara is also excited about the work she does to help resettle a refugee family with members of her local Amnesty International group.
In addition to her gift of time, Barbara was thrilled to establish a legacy plan that will ensure support of these organizations even when she no longer can. Barbara’s generous legacy plan leaves most of her estate to her Charitable Fund which her younger family members will inherit. This will allow her annual support of her favorite charities to continue. She added, “They can also add new charities that match the goals of the fund—disaster/emergency relief and education (especially for those who wouldn’t otherwise get one). The fund gives me so much joy as it is really fun to call up dedicated people in some wonderful organization to tell them you believe in what they are doing and you are going to support them.” We are deeply grateful for Barbara’s thoughtful commitment to the Red Cross—today and in the future.
Thank you, Barbara, for being a Tiffany Circle member and for your dedication to helping others. We are inspired by all that you do.
Chair, Red Cross Access, Equity, and Inclusion Cabinet
“I’m passionate about the Red Cross mission of helping people in need with dignity and humanity. I want to put my time and attention to helping manifest these core values.”
In celebration of Black History Month, we are honored to spotlight Karen Clopton’s leadership as Chair of the Access, Equity, and Inclusion Cabinet for the Red Cross and her lifelong commitment to champion human and civil rights. Karen currently serves as Chair of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
“I’m passionate about the Red Cross’s mission of helping people in need with dignity and humanity. I want to put my time and attention to helping manifest these core values.” Karen was recruited to the American Red Cross Bay Area Board in 2016 after serving as President for the League of Women Voters. Her drive to help people includes eliminating racial disparities in disaster relief outcomes and educating others on how disasters disproportionally affect Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. Based on her expertise, she was asked to lead NCCR's Access, Equity, and Inclusion Cabinet, where her direction is rooted in the Red Cross’s seven principles: humanity, imperiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, universality. Under Karen’s leadership, the Cabinet has created banners to show Red Cross’s stance against racism, including anti-Asian and anti-Black racism, facilitated education programs for leadership and staff, and formed community partnerships to recruit diverse blood donors. These efforts support Red Cross’s national goal of tripling the number of African American blood donors by the end of 2024 and increasing the blood supply for sickle cell anemia patients.
Karen is a frequent guest speaker on various legal and ethical topics, especially during Black History Month. She celebrates this meaningful month by, “highlighting every day exceptional people and emphasizing that each one is even more amazing because they are so resilient in the face of 500 years of dehumanization.” When asked how to be a better advocate of diversity and inclusion, her recommendations are tangible and accessible, such as educating yourself on your own background, observing your surroundings to see and question why certain groups are missing, intervene when inappropriate actions happen to you or others, and acquaint yourselves with different cultures.
Though Karen has earned numerous accolades as a distinguished attorney and former Chief Administrative Law Judge, she declares her greatest personal achievement is mother to her two daughters, Julia and Olivia . She’s currently writing a book that includes personal family stories juxtaposed with ten landmark US Supreme Court decisions and a fascinating discovery from exploring her ancestry DNA.
Karen recently accepted the invitation to join the Tiffany Circle and hopes to provide an insight into the power of black philanthropy. We are honored to welcome Karen to our Circle and deeply appreciate her commitment to the Red Cross mission and values.
Third Generation Red Crosser
“I’m honored to be part of a group of smart (women) who have real passion about the world. It’s an impressive group.”
Linda Zellerbach is a Tiffany Circle member with a strong and meaningful Red Cross history. Linda’s connection began when she married her husband Gary, a third generation Red Crosser. The Zellerbach family legacy all started when Gary’s grandmother served as a Donut Dolly. (“Donut Dolly” is the affectionate name given to American Red Cross Recreational Workers, composed of nearly all-volunteer women who brought a “touch of home” overseas during World War II and during the Vietnam War.) In addition to serving overseas, his grandmother was also an advocate for the Red Cross youth program. She passed on her deep passion and dedication to the mission to Gary, Linda, and now their children, Laura and Randy, who are all active volunteers.
In addition to the Zellerbach’s legacy of supporting the Red Cross, Linda also was exposed to the work of the Red Cross through her 40-year career as a physical therapist, specifically working with burn survivors. Linda was moved when the Red Cross would come in and talk to families and patients at the Bothin Burn Center at St Francis Memorial Hospital. Having built meaningful connections with her patients, Linda was touched to see them being educated and helped by an organization she so deeply valued. Linda’s interest in wellness and preparedness grew deeper and she began to see where sharing her knowledge and expertise could support the mission.
In recent years, Linda has become an active volunteer with our Pillowcase Project and Prepare with Pedro the Penguin programs. These programs, which help prepare school-aged children for disasters, combine her passion for youth, education, and disaster preparedness. Linda is also an avid blood donor and is excited to become a Sound the Alarm volunteer, which is yet another Red Cross program that closely aligns with her interest in community preparedness and education. Linda feels strongly about involving herself in the mission, because so much of our workforce is “run by volunteers.”
Linda and Gary recently honored their family’s legacy by naming a “wellness” room in our Red Cross National Headquarters located in Washington D.C., where staff, volunteers, and the people we serve can take a moment out of their day to regroup and focus on their personal well-being. Linda focuses much of her time on mental and physical wellness and believes a large part of that has to do with prevention and making sure we all practice self-care. She believes that “it is always better to keep people healthy than to rehabilitate them.”
In addition to the myriad of Red Cross activities Linda participates in, she has also become a strong advocate for our mission within her personal network. Both Linda and Gary sing the Red Cross’ praises to their family and friends, encouraging them to get involved. Linda recently raised over $1,000 simply by utilizing Facebook’s “birthday fundraiser” program. Linda always thinks creatively about how we can innovate our fundraising efforts and programs.
Linda’s favorite part of being in the Tiffany Circle are her fellow members. She feels honored to be part of a group of “really smart people who have real passion about the world. It’s an impressive group.” She is looking forward to getting to know more of you and continuing to engage in the Red Cross mission in a meaningful and impactful way.
Philanthropy Committee Chair
“You hit a certain point in your life where giving feels a lot better than receiving and the holidays are a good time to do that.”
Alexandra fondly remembers the first time she was introduced to the Red Cross. She was seven years old and participating in a drowning prevention program where she had to tread water to receive her Red Cross pin.
It wasn’t until years later, well into adulthood, that Alexandra was re-introduced to the Red Cross. In 2011, she was invited to an event called the Tiffany Circle Summit and was forever changed. She was so moved by the power of 300 women coming together - many of whom have become her closest friends. Alexandra reflected “The Tiffany Circle Summit was so well done in terms of educating me on issues that I didn’t think of otherwise – issues I had taken for granted. I quickly learned, if it weren’t for the Red Cross a lot of people would be much worse off.” The cherry on top was unexpectedly getting to meet former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, who was the guest speaker at the conference that year.
Alexandra shared, “The comradery of the women through the Tiffany Circle is what intrigued me to get involved with the Red Cross, but the mission is what has made me want to stay.”
The Home Fire Campaign really struck a chord with her. “We overlook how many people are killed each year simply by home fires.” That’s 7 people every single day who die, and those most impacted are children and the elderly. Alexandra volunteered to participate in free smoke alarm installations, a very rewarding volunteer opportunity for her. “I walked into a little kid’s bedroom and was moved by the fact that I did not see a single smoke alarm in their room or their entire house. That moment will stay with me forever. And, there were so many more kids’ rooms and entire homes that we visited that didn’t have a single working smoke alarm. It made me realize how big a problem home fire safety is in our country.”
Despite Alexandra’s passion for the Home Fire Campaign, she stated “every year when I give - I let the Red Cross choose how they want to spend my gift – if you have faith in the organization, I trust that they are going to know where those dollars need to be directed. In the season of giving so many of us are making our charitable decisions, she shared, “You hit a certain point in your life where giving feels a lot better than receiving and the holidays are a good time to do that.”
Alexandra is the former Tiffany Circle Regional Chair, a Red Cross Bay Area Board member and the Chair of the Bay Area Philanthropy Committee. Thank you so much for being a Tiffany Circle member and for volunteering your time and financial gifts to support the Red Cross mission!
Supporting the Mission since 1994
“Even across the world, people are advocating to support the Red Cross because they're out there helping (those in need).”
Karen Iwamoto is a mother, wife, volunteer and American Red Cross Tiffany Circle member. As we prepare to celebrate Red Cross National Youth Involvement month in November, we are honored to spotlight Karen and her commitment to youth.
Karen’s passion to work with children began after she became a mother and started volunteering in both her kids’ schools and within her local community. Karen loved that she could be hands-on and provide students with learning and leadership experiences through her involvement in the Parent Teacher Association and other schools groups; recently, she also began volunteer work with a local youth nonprofit.
After her children graduated, Karen wanted to keep working with youth and eventually became a member of the Red Cross Youth Services Committee. In this role, she learned about the disaster preparedness and leadership opportunities the Red Cross provides to children of all ages. Karen is now a trained Pillowcase Project volunteer, where she helps school-aged children to prepare for emergencies. She feels strongly about mentoring youth and encouraging them to become more involved in their community. She enjoys helping young people find their voice, pursue their passions, and become leaders.
Karen truly embraces the Red Cross mission to help anyone in need and does this through her philanthropy and her own time. She and her husband, Rick, have been Red Cross supporters since 1994, and for nearly three decades, Karen has enjoyed getting to meet new people and impact the mission in a variety of ways. She says that she appreciates the community of Red Cross “lifers” who spend all their time participating in “wonderful ways to help other people.”
Karen joined other Red Crossers in action during the Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign last year; the campaign aims to reduce home fire-related death and injury by installing free smoke alarms in homes that need them. She was shocked to realize how many people didn’t have working smoke alarms. She was even more blown away by the fact that the Red Cross, with help from volunteers, has already installed 2,156,983 smoke alarms and made 892,012 households safer since the campaign started in 2014.
“I love knowing the Red Cross is out there when people need help and that there are so many dedicated people involved,” she said.
Karen was recently touched when a close friend of hers from Lebanon had family and friends affected by the Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020; a cache of ammonium nitrate exploded, leaving much of the city in ruins and 203 people dead. In true Red Cross spirit, she asked, “how can I help?” and her friend mentioned the Red Cross. Karen was once again brought back to the Red Cross mission.
“I thought, ‘Wow, even across the world people are advocating to support the Red Cross because they're the ones who are out there helping them.’”
The Red Cross in Lebanon had their work cut out for them: in addition to 6,500 injured, approximately 300,000 residents were left homeless due to damage estimated at US$15 billion. She made generous financial contribution to help the relief effort there.
Karen has been a member of the Tiffany Circle for several years and was inspired to join through a friend. She attended a local Tiffany Circle event and began making connections with other women in the group; she was inspired by their stories, involvement, and deep compassion. Karen values her Tiffany Circle friendships and appreciates having the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the Red Cross mission first-hand.
Thank you, Karen, for being a valued Tiffany Circle leader and for your decades-long commitment to the Red Cross mission.
Founding Tiffany Circle Member
“I wanted to turn all the things that I can’t do right now - work, travel, etc. - because of COVID into something positive that I can do to help other people.”
Suzanne is a founding member of the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle in the Northern California Coastal Region. She remembers when her husband Bob, who was the President of the chapter board at the time, came home saying, “there is something that you will want to be involved in! We signed up immediately.” That was nearly 13 years ago.
Throughout her many years as a Tiffany Circle member, Suzanne has met many new people. What she loves about being a part of this group is getting to know each person better and understanding why they are a member. She mentions, “there are so many different reasons why people are inspired to give to the Red Cross – it’s nice to be around people who are like-minded in terms of our interests.”
Suzanne and Bob decided early on that instead of giving a little bit of money to many organizations, they would only choose a handful of organizations and give more significantly. They spent time talking about which charities they felt most passionate about, which ones were aligned with their values, and which ones they felt compelled to be active with by volunteering. The Red Cross was one of the top charities on their list.
Suzanne’s commitment for helping others has led her to volunteer in many of Red Cross’s five lines of services. She has volunteered to support our veterans, inspired by the fact that her father was in the United States Army Reserve. She also serves as the Lead Pillowcase Project Coordinator in Contra Costa County, which prepares school-aged children for disasters. Suzanne’s professional background as an Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension has come especially in handy in this leadership position. And most recently Suzanne was deployed to Napa to support those affected by the multiple wildfires in our area.
Suzanne had only deployed on one other disaster before this one, so this experience was different due to new COVID protocols and procedures. She spent her time ensuring that every client had a safe place to stay, which was a hotel room in this case, food, and someone to talk to after being evacuated. Suzanne reflected, “Some people were in worse situation than others – those who already knew that their home had burned, those who had no family around, and those who left their home so quickly that they had nothing - one guy didn’t even have a suitcase”. Suzanne made notes to herself to ensure these clients come down for every meal – because in a hotel you don’t see them as much as when you are in a shelter. If she didn’t see them at mealtime, she would check on them, make sure they were getting food, and discuss how they were doing with recovery.She felt that her experience was rewarding. She felt that it enabled her “to turn all the things that I can’t do right now (work, travel, etc.) because of COVID into something positive that I can do to help other people.”
Thank you, Suzanne, for being a valued Tiffany Circle leader and for your long-time commitment to the Red Cross mission.
"The most moving pieces have been when I've been out on Disaster Response just to see how this amazing organization brings volunteers together... to see what happens when you bring thousands of volunteers together that come from all over the country and even sometimes all over the world who don't know each other but they come together because of their compassion for the mission."
This July, the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region celebrated the first anniversary of our tenacious leader, Jennifer Adrio, Regional Chief Executive Officer. Jennifer was most recently the CEO of the Kentucky Region, but her Red Cross career began in her mid-20's.
A casual conversation with her parents’ neighbor ended in Jennifer’s first of many roles with the Red Cross, as a Blood Donor Account Manager in the Biomedical Services department in Louisville, Kentucky. Shortly after stepping into the role, Jennifer made her first financial gift to the Red Cross. When asked what motivated her to give back early in her tenure, Jennifer shared, “I started giving because somebody asked me to and I kind of thought well I should do that. Right? What keeps me giving is seeing the impact of our work and doing whatever I can to help deliver our mission and to demonstrate how proud I am to be part of the Red Cross.”
After serving in her Biomedical Services role, Jennifer’s career led her on a long successful journey with the United Way before she made her way back to the Red Cross in 2013. Since her return, she has been deployed to six national disasters including Hurricane Florence in 2018. As Jennifer reflected on her deployments, she shared:
“The most inspiring times for me have been out on disaster response... to see how this organization brings thousands of volunteers together that come from all over the country and even sometimes all over the world who don't know each other but they come together like they're an organized group... because of their compassion for the mission. To see everybody sleeping on cots and work all sorts of hours and walk away from their lives to serve other people, to me that's probably the most powerful thing that I've ever seen at the Red Cross.”
Jennifer’s commitment to the Red Cross mission deepened further when she became a member of the Tiffany Circle. She was inspired to join the Red Cross’ community of women leaders because of their collective commitment to advance the Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent, and treasures.
“I love being part of the Tiffany Circle because it gives me the chance to connect with other philanthropic women and learn what they bring and why they're involved. Everybody has a different story... but the one thing they have in common is the mission of the Red Cross.”
We thank Jennifer for her incredible leadership, commitment to the Red Cross mission, and for being a valuable member of the Tiffany Circle.