Taking charge of the Red Cross
By RACHEL BRANT
Bremerton Patriot Staff writer
September 24, 2009 · Updated 2:02 PM
Hutson steps up as local chapter’s newest CEO.
Randy Hutson is the new man at the helm of the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties.
Hutson, who calls Sammamish home, became the chief executive officer of the organization Sept. 1, but he’s not entirely new to the American Red Cross.
He previously served as the Red Cross’ chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
“I am honored to lead our local chapter. The Red Cross is an amazing organization that really makes a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “I look forward to working with our volunteers, staff and community partners in making the Greater Seattle area one of the most prepared communities in the country.”
We recently chatted with Hutson about his Red Cross roots, previous employment and goals for the organization.
Question: How did you first get involved with Red Cross?
Answer: Well, the roots of that go back quite a few years. I was in college in the 1970s and there was an earthquake in Nicaragua and one of my college chums actually went down there and helped out. That always stuck with me, that he was so selfless to go down there and do that. Then I entered the for-profit world and then I became the chief financial officer (for the local Red Cross) in 2002, so then over the years I grew into the chief operating officer position and now chief executive officer.
Q: What did you do before becoming involved with the Red Cross?
A: Immediately before coming here I was with Microsoft. Locally, I was with Spacelabs Healthcare and I did some work in the Silicon Valley before that. I’ve been here nearly 20 years. I moved here in 1991.
Q: Have you gotten the hang of your new role?
A: Well, it’s really busy. Honestly, there’s not a lot to learn because I’ve been here seven years. The transition hasn’t been so challenging.
I’d say some things that have gotten our attention now is the Green River situation if the Howard Hanson Dam fails. We’re expecting things will be a bigger-than-normal flood event, so we’re trying to prepare residents for that. That’s taken up a big percentage of my time, then there’s the H1N1 situation.
Those are the two sort of extraordinary things we’ve been dealing with the past two months, but that’s what we do.
Q: What do you like the most about working with the American Red Cross?
A: After having been with some of the people that are affected by disasters and seeing up close and personal what we do affects people — it’s pretty heartening. It’s different being a profit-driven company from a mission-driven company. It’s a way to give back a little bit and make a little bit of a difference.
Q: What are your duties as CEO?
A: Well, first I’d say is to help set the strategies and direction. We have a mission certainly and we do things a little bit differently in each community. I also help do things as efficiently and effectively as possible. Fundraising — that’s an important part of it. I work with boards and organizations and we rely on nonprofits and other government partners. I try to help cultivate some of those relationships.
Q: How often do you come over to the Bremerton office?
A: I attend meetings in Bremerton every month, but I try to get over there more often. We like to say we’re not separated by a body of water, but connected by a body of water. I’ll actually be in Bremerton Saturday for a volunteer recognition event.
Q: Have you set any goals for yourself as CEO? Are there things you’d like to accomplish?
A: Helping us as a local chapter be more prominent and visible in the community. Too many people in our communities don’t think there’s offices in our communities.
In the current environment we’re in, fundraising is a high priority and we have to do our best with that.
Q: Would you like to see more Red Cross volunteers?
A: We’re made up of primarily volunteers who are our friends and neighbors. In the last fiscal year, our volunteers logged many hours — the equivalent of 87 full-time employees. We have about 1,500 volunteers and we only have 56 employees, so the volunteers are more than double the hours of our paid staff. We’re a little bit like the fire department in the sense that we got to have people up and ready to go.
We have a big need currently with this Green River flood potential. We expect that we’ll have to shelter a large number of people and we always need trained shelter operators.
We’re always turning over volunteers, so we’re always bringing in new people to replace the ones who move on. We like to give them a meaningful experience in their lives.