Elizabeth Dole Addresses Chief Executives Club

(6-10-98) -- American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole outlined the challenges of effectively bringing a traditional service organization into the 21st century in an address to the Boston College Chief Executives Club on June 10.

"It is important to stay ahead of change," Dole told 225 leaders of Boston area businesses at the Boston Harbor Hotel gathering. "We have invested a large amount of money in technology," she said in describing Red Cross strategy to remain a viable service organization in the future.

"Right now, people are able to give money to the Red Cross through the Internet. Soon, you will be able to use the Internet to make an appointment to give blood or to volunteer," she said.

Technology also is playing a role in other aspects of the Red Cross' work, she said, including the forecasting of potential natural disasters, the positioning of relief resources before they are needed, and the development of biodegradable gauze bandages to treat serious internal injuries and reduce the need for multiple surgeries.

One of the major concerns facing the Red Cross in the last two decades, she said, was the improvement of the safety of blood that had been donated and redistributed for transfusions and medical use. Dole said that the Red Cross has developed a centralized system with eight state-of-the-art testing laboratories throughout the nation. "Blood is now safe to give and it is safe to receive," she said. The Red Cross oversees more than half of the blood used in transfusions in the United States.

Dole -- the former secretary of labor and secretary of transportation who now oversees 1.3 million volunteers, 31,000 paid staff and a $1.9 billion budget -- also had management advice for the audience. She outlined some of the Red Cross' strategic planning efforts, as well as its "succession planning," in which mid-level managers are groomed for leadership positions as top-tier executives prepare to retire.

Dole was the first woman to address the Chief Executives Club. The club, which is associated with BC's Carroll School of Management, is rated among the nation's top business speaking forums.

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