If you ask Maria Millan what her role is at the American Red Cross, she is very clear – her job is to provide service to those in need. Her philosophy: “It’s not about the position, it’s about the mission.”
Over the last decade volunteering with the Red Cross here in the Greater NY region and across the country, Millan has developed many invaluable skills, but her work as a skilled logistician is where she has really shined. In this role she works in complex and demanding emergency settings to help manage the distribution of food, water and supplies provided to communities devastated by disaster.
But she didn’t start off in Logistics. When she joined the organization in 2013, she began her journey, like many volunteers, training in Mass Care and Shelter Fundamentals. The first major test for Millan in this initial role came in March of 2014 when the Red Cross responded to a gas explosion in the Manhattan neighborhood of East Harlem. From that experience, she made the move to Logistics, a field that has been her focus since.
While working with the Red Cross, Maria is also a member of the New York State Guard which augments and supports the New York National Guard. She credits that work, as well as her upbringing in a military family, with her ability to be prepared and flexible for deployments.
Maria has deployed to many assignments outside of Greater NY where she has put this readiness posture to the test, learned a lot and thrived.
During her deployment to South Carolina following Hurricane Florence in September 2018, Maria was tasked with moving personnel, equipment, and supplies to parts of the state that were impassable to regular vehicles. With the assistance of the US military, she was able to secure large trucks that could travel through flooded areas to move staff and much-needed resources to the shelter sites quickly and safely.
In September of 2022, Maria deployed to Anchorage, Alaska to oversee the logistics for the Red Cross response to Typhoon Merbok. The storm formed earlier in warm Pacific waters, leading to a powerful typhoon with a large storm surge. The damage to parts of Alaska, namely to indigenous communities along the northern coast of the state, was severe.
One of the concerns with Typhoon Merbok was that it forced the subsistence harvest for many local populations, who traditionally gather food during the fall to prepare for the coming harsh winter, to pause. The other big obstacle was the supply chain.
Because so many supplies had to be shipped to Alaska from the mainland US, Maria needed to rely on her experience and expertise to help locate supplies in "the Lower 48.” She did this by leveraging the Red Cross Disaster Facility Service Centers located in strategic locations across the USA, as well as retailers, to bring in critical necessities.
Maria Millan has clearly demonstrated a record of tireless service to the Red Cross logistics role. She recently returned from a deployment to Florida, where she supported the organization’s response to Hurricane Ian, and is now enjoying a bit of a break from deployments. But should she be asked to deploy soon, she is ready. She adds: “I always lead by example.”