The Red Cross

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic

Whether it's helping a family displaced by a home fire or dispatching aid to those devastated by hurricanes in the Gulf Coast -- the American Red Cross is there.

That's why the American public cannot be sidetracked by the negative publicity generated with the resignation earlier this month of the organization's president, Marsha Evans -- the second change at the top in three years.

If anything, that signals an organizational problem, not one of mission, that needs serious attention.

Evans reportedly resigned because of friction with the board of governors. Her predecessor, Dr. Bernadine Healy, said she was forced to resign partly because of disagreements with the board over whether money coming in after Sept. 11 should be placed in a separate fund or a general disaster fund. Some donors were upset that $200 million was set aside for future terrorist incidents.

That the two resignations are only three years apart and both in the wake of major disasters is reason enough for serious soul-searching, both within and without the agency. ...

The prospects of trying to work with a 50-member board of directors is daunting indeed and the search for corrective action within the organization should focus on changes in that situation, not who is the director.

In the meantime, the fuss cannot be allowed to disrupt the efforts of local chapters to help those in need. ...

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