A newsmaker you should know: New Red Cross director started job just weeks before Superstorm Sandy

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Kevin Brown of Upper St. Clair has a heart dedicated to serving others.

After a long and extensive career in the nonprofit industry, Mr. Brown has been appointed executive director for the American Red Cross serving Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

"I've always really enjoyed the service aspect of the nonprofit field," he said. "I think it was the right job at the right time, and the Red Cross's reputation is outstanding. I'm very pleased for the opportunity to work for the Red Cross."

Mr. Brown, who works out of the Red Cross office in Beaver County, assumed the position on Oct. 1 -- just weeks before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast. It was baptism by fire in his new role, but his previous experience in the medical field with the National Incident Management System helped prepare him for it.

"It was certainly a way to be initiated in the Red Cross disaster response quickly," he said. "It was definitely an education to see how the Red Cross responds and how all the advance planning that is done kicks in. The effort really gets rolling and people are helped."

Prior to his employment with the Red Cross, Mr. Brown was director of communications for Weirton Medical Center in Weirton, W.Va., and executive director of the Weirton Medical Center Foundation.

He has extensive experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, communications and marketing, as well as in strategic planning. He also has served in executive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector and has been involved in the start-up of several nonprofit organizations.

In his new role, he is responsible for overseeing service delivery, external relations and fundraising within the four counties.

Mr. Brown said one of his immediate goals is to enhance volunteer recruitment efforts, which he said are challenging these days due to numerous demands on people's time.

To draw more volunteers to the organization, he said, the Red Cross is offering benefits that go beyond the norm such as the opportunity to work in disaster response, which Mr. Brown described as a tremendous opportunity to help people.

Another goal Mr. Brown is working toward is the recruitment of new board members to oversee the West Central Pennsylvania Chapter, which is made up of Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties. Prior to a merger in 2012, the counties were divided into two chapters, Beaver/Lawrence and Butler/Mercer, and were governed by two boards of directors, which also has been merged into one.

As with most nonprofits, fundraising efforts also are crucial, Mr. Brown said, and have really come into focus in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

"It made us aware of how critically funds are needed by the Red Cross for all of our activities, but particularly disaster response," he said. "You just never know when it's going to happen."

Mr. Brown said the Red Cross soon will launch a major effort in the four-county area to identify individuals, corporations and foundations that are able to give at higher levels.

Drawing on his experience, Mr. Brown said he has some creative ideas to generate funding.

"The Red Cross brand is very, very well-known throughout the country and particularly in this region," he said. "We just want to keep the brand awareness at a very high level and continue to provide the services that communities have come to rely on."

His vision for the Red Cross, Mr. Brown said, is to do his part to fulfill the Red Cross mission, which is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.


Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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