R. Scott Falk – In Memoriam

The American Red Cross lost a beloved and dedicated humanitarian in May as R. Scott Falk passed away suddenly of natural causes. Scott was a true visionary and leader. He modeled a long-term legacy of dedication and commitment to the Red Cross. 

For the past 12 years, Scott had been a guiding force as a member of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Board of Directors. He joined the Chicago board in 2007 during a time of transition and growth at the Red Cross. Scott’s passion, strategic insight, drive and dedication were often the impetus that accelerated the Chicago & Northern Illinois Region forward into a position of leadership among the organization. 

Scott’s contributions and legacy at the Red Cross are astounding. He served in various board leadership roles in Chicago, including Board Chair and Chair of the Philanthropy Committee. Scott also chaired the Heroes Breakfast committee, propelling the Chicago Heroes Breakfast to be one of the most successful fundraising events in the city of Chicago and across the Red Cross regional network. 

Scott was an incredible humanitarian. His philanthropic leadership and dedication included not only his generosity, but also his personal embodiment of our mission,” said Celena Roldán, regional chief executive of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross. “Scott passionately cared about our staff and volunteers. He had great humility and was insistent that he was not a volunteer. He felt he had not earned the title of volunteer because to him the real heroes were the volunteers who dedicated their time to the mission, responding to disasters and doing direct service to individuals.” 

Scott Falk and American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldán

Scott also served at the national level on the National Philanthropic Board (NPB) upon its inception in 2012 and as Chair from 2015-18.

As Chair of the NPB, Scott worked alongside the Red Cross president and CEO and chief development officer and provided volunteer leadership for the Annual Chapter Board Campaign. In this role, he advised regional executives and board chairs across the country to develop, share and implement fundraising best practices.

Scott Falk with American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern

“Scott had a huge heart and was steadfast in his incredible support of the American Red Cross,” said President and CEO, Gail McGovern. “He was a kind, compassionate, brilliant, funny and humble man, who graced us all with his steady presence. It was a privilege for me to get to personally know and work side-by-side with Scott, and he will forever be thought of as a treasured member of our Red Cross family. I know that I speak on behalf of so many Red Crossers when I say that I am deeply saddened by Scott’s passing.”

According to Chief Development Officer, Don Herring, “Scott’s leadership of the NPB was engaging and energizing. During his tenure, board members increased giving by 23% with average gift size growing by 63%.  Scott successfully helped to create our Influencer Strategy. During his final year as chair, board members raised an unprecedented nearly $102 million for our mission. Members of the NPB will miss Scott’s kind smile, generous spirit and wise counsel.”

Scott was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he served for almost 30 years in mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.  He received numerous accolades over the years, having been listed in Chambers as a leading lawyer for over a decade, and was known at Kirkland & Ellis for his mentorship and leadership in the firm.

He is survived by his dear wife Kimberly and their children, Meredith and Jack.

Scott’s humility, enthusiasm, commitment, passion, motivation and knowledge are unmatched. We salute the legacy of a wonderful and beloved colleague, who truly had an impact on the American Red Cross. You can read more about Scott’s exceptional life in his obituary.

Written by Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Joy Squier

Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Francisco Magaña

During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Red Cross of Illinois is highlighting Latino men and women who are committed to advancing the mission of the American Red Cross. Today, we celebrate Donor Services Team Supervisor, Francisco Magaña.

Over ten years ago, Francisco felt the calling to learn a new skill and take his career in a different direction. Inspired by his brother who lost his battle with leukemia, and the countless number of blood transfusions that allowed him to share more time with his family, Francisco decided phlebotomy would not only honor his brother, but serve as a fulfilling profession. It was this career change that led Francisco to the Red Cross.

Francisco at an American Red Cross Memorial Blood drive honoring R. Scott Falk. 

Over the course of ten years with the Red Cross, Francisco has worked his way up to Team Supervisor and now has the pleasure and satisfaction of coordinating mobile blood donor teams as they collect blood from generous donors across the state.

Regarding Hispanic Heritage Month, Francisco says, “There are so many things I cherish from my culture, but family and their unconditional support are right at the top. No matter what it is, and what time of day it is, I’ve had my family’s support which is what I now offer my daughter. This is the same principle I apply with my Red Cross team. No matter what and where, my sleeves are rolled up ready to work.”

Francisco, with his wife and daughter, like to explore Mexico to learn more about their history.

In addition to love of family and hard work, Francisco is making sure he celebrates his culture by traveling to Mexico with his family to explore places and traditions which have been celebrated by his family for centuries.

Visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment at a blood drive or blood collection facility near you. 

Written by Illinois Communications Manager Connie Esparza

Retired Rush University Medical Center CEO, Dr. Larry Goodman Discusses Importance of Red Cross Antibody Testing During Pandemic

Today, the Red Cross is testing each blood donation for COVID-19 antibodies. During this uncertain time, we know that individuals and public health organizations are eager to learn more about COVID-19. And the Red Cross is uniquely positioned to offer our blood donors insight about their possible exposure to this coronavirus.

Implementing this free antibody testing to the public is costing the Red Cross an estimated $3 million per month, but the positive impacts — offering our blood donors insight about their possible exposure to this coronavirus — and providing valuable public health information – are important contributions in addressing this ongoing pandemic.

This fall, our team at the Illinois Red Cross spoke with Dr. Larry Goodman, President Emeritus – Rush University and Retired CEO, Rush University Medical Center and the Rush University System for Health, to explore why antibody testing and convalescent plasma collection is so important to our hospitals and public health systems, and how the Red Cross has worked hard to create strong partnerships with medical systems here in Illinois and around the country. The Red Cross has been the blood supplier to Rush University Medical Center for over 25 years.

Dr. Goodman is currently President Emeritus of Rush University and the retired CEO of Rush University Medical Center and the Rush University System for Health. He was a Greater Chicago Red Cross board member from 2006-2011. He says Rush’s partnership with the Red Cross is a natural fit.

“We (at Rush) see people often at the worst moments of their life, like the Red Cross,” Dr. Goodman explains. “But if you drew a diagram of where these two organizations impact the community, they overlap. Not perfectly, but complimentary. Both organizations recognize that health is far more than just treating disease (or responding to a disaster) when it occurs; it is also about prevention. Additionally, it’s about neighborhood safety, education, and the many other factors that contribute to forming healthy communities. And these building blocks to health must be available to everyone because they all factor in to extending people’s lives. It’s the basic idea of how we measure the health of our society.”

How Your Antibody Test Could Help Those in Need

Dr. Goodman’s background as an internal medicine and infectious disease physician offers him a wealth of knowledge on how the Red Cross is working together with hospital partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tessia Phillips donated convalescent plasma in June 2020 after recovering from COVID-19.

In this fight against the coronavirus, Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies, which suggest they have been previously infected.  This is useful knowledge for them and provides additional data on monitoring the extent of the disease in our community.   Additionally,  these previously infected individuals may qualify to be convalescent plasma donors. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Right now, requests to the Red Cross from hospitals for convalescent plasma is outpacing our collections of this potentially useful treatment. 

“When we’re infected with organisms, we make antibodies to those organisms,” Dr. Goodman explains. “We make a small army that is sent out to destroy the virus. However, it takes 10-14 days to make antibodies. During the period that antibodies are produced, you are left with your other host defenses, like white blood cells and other factors, to stave off infection. If we could find a way to get patients antibodies earlier during that 10-14 day window, it might make a difference. So if somebody already made those antibodies against COVID-19 and survived the infection, we can draw blood off (the convalescent plasma), separate the blood and antibodies, and infuse that into the ill person to be available in the early days of infection prior to that patient’s own antibody formation.”

While logical, the efficacy of convalescent plasma is still under investigation in the treatment of COVID-19, but it has been useful in other illnesses. This is the same concept behind the recently released monoclonal antibody therapies. Dr. Goodman believes it has been important that the Red Cross paved the way in offering this antibody testing free of charge to donors because of its trusted brand and reputation in communities.

“The Red Cross has a great reputation, and I think it comes back to some of the values of impartiality, neutrality, and commitment to the community,” Dr. Goodman explains. “Those are values that every organization is reexamining. The Red Cross makes a major effort to serve diverse populations and that’s very valuable.”

“People remember who’s showing up,” Dr. Goodman said. “The Red Cross shows up to fires or floods, regardless of where they occur. To have a nonprofit also participate in answering critical research questions that might lead to new therapies concerning this pandemic is another important contribution added to the invaluable gift of blood.”

New Red Cross Blood Donation Site Opens in Heart of Illinois Medical District

With the addition of The R. Scott Falk Family Blood Donation Site (Falk family pictured left), located at The Rauner Center, right in the heart of Chicago’s medical district, the Red Cross is able to collect convalescent plasma and test every blood donation for COVID-19 antibodies, while also ensuring that our hospital partners receive these and other critical blood products as swiftly as possible. Considering most of the blood that hospitals like Rush uses comes from the Red Cross and the density of hospitals in and near the Illinois Medical District, this proximity is critical.

“Timing is important with most types of blood transfusions,” Dr. Goodman says. “Availability is critical. Hospitals can’t keep all the blood they need on hand. They can go through 10-20 units in a transplant. In addition, this new site has capabilities that weren’t available previously in the medical district. Different kinds of blood products are now available. Almost all the blood products from Rush come from the Red Cross. There are also trauma centers at Stroger and other nearby centers. There’s a lot of need. Minutes mean everything. It’s a valuable use of the space at the Rauner Center.”

Now more than ever, the need for blood remains constant. Emergencies don’t stop during COVID-19, and every donation makes a direct impact on people that can’t wait for lifesaving blood.

“This is the time. While COVID-19 happened and is a dominant factor in health care and our everyday lives, while all that is happening, all the rest of the chronic and acute illnesses continue,” Dr. Goodman explains. “People still have heart attacks, tumors, strokes, and need organ transplants. Blood transfusions remain a critical need and something that has become more acute at a time like this. That same critical quality of life, which is blood, has so many capabilities in it. This is a moment when people try to decide what they can do. There’s a lot they can do to reduce their own risk and improve the health of the community through blood donation to ensure that the supply is there when any of us might need it.”

Need for Blood and Convalescent Plasma Donors

The Red Cross is encouraging individuals who have fully-recovered from COVID-19 to give convalescent plasma but, most importantly, if you are healthy and feeling well, we encourage you to donate blood. Visit redcrossblood.org to schedule your appointment today. To learn more about donating convalescent plasma, visit redcrossorg/plasma4covid.

Written by Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager

APL#: 2020-APL-01316

Honoring a Humanitarian, Who Taught Us So Much

Long Time Board Member and Philanthropist R. Scott Falk Honored at Community Blood Drive

The Kenilworth Club Assembly Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Serving as Kenilworth’s community house since its construction in 1906, the powerful connection between this historic gathering place and the local community makes it the perfect place to honor another community connector — R. Scott Falk.  Today, an American Red Cross Memorial Blood drive honoring R. Scott Falk was held there in his honor.  Forty-two units of blood were collected and each unit can help save up to three lives.

Scott Falk at the Chicago Red Cross Heroes Breakfast

Scott was a visionary and leader, and he modeled a long-term legacy of dedication and commitment to the Red Cross. For the past 12 years, he was a guiding force as a member of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Board of Directors. Scott’s passion, insight, drive and dedication often accelerated the Chicago & Northern Illinois Region forward. And Scott never hesitated to roll up his sleeve to donate blood.

Scott’s wife Kimberly and her dear friend Marley Crane hosted the drive in Scott’s honor.  Marley and Scott shared the same birthday, so an October blood drive celebrating his birth was the perfect way to honor him. “The room is decorated with 55 red and white balloons to celebrate Scott and his birthday,” said Marley. “We hosted the drive to allow people in the community to honor the generosity of the Scott we all knew and loved.”

Scott’s wife, Kimberly was moved by the many personal connections from the community donating in support of Scott.  “As I look around the room, I see so many friends that were part of our life together.  Friends from my children’s preschool, connections from our time in California, people from the PTA, neighbors, parents from our children’s sports and Kirkland & Ellis colleagues. All giving in honor of Scott, who gave so generously of himself.” 

Kimberly Falk and Marley Crane

Laura Linger, who knew Scott from both the community and his association with the Red Cross said, “Scott was a leader, an example and an inspiration.  There are not many like him. Kim’s amazing leadership in following Scott’s passion, dedication and generosity inspires all of us.”

Laura Linger with Betsy Ahearne and Francisco Magana of the Red Cross

Celena Roldán, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross, donated blood today in Scott’s honor and said,” Scott had great humility. In my three and half years at the Red Cross he taught me much, about leadership, vision and generosity. I am proud to be here and to donate and honor Scott and Kim today.”

CEO Celena Roldán with Kimberly Falk

Many donors from the community who understand the significance of blood donation were also at the drive.  Carrie Waterston donated for the first time in support of a college friend who recently suffered and amniotic embolism while giving birth and needed 90 units of blood. Carrie said it is her friend’s mission “to give back every one of those 90 units” and Carrie donated today to do her part.

Bridget Sanfilippo’s 28-year-old daughter has suffered from aplastic anemia since she was five years old.  Aplastic anemia develops when damage occurs to bone marrow, impacting the production of new blood cells. Bridget said, “during her life, my daughter has had hundreds of blood transfusions, and my goal is to give back as many of those as I can.”

Bridget Sanfillipo

The American Red Cross collects 40% of the nation’s blood supply and needs to collect 13,000 units a day for the more than 2,500 hospitals we service across the country.  Blood drives like the R. Scott Falk Memorial Drive happen each day and donors are needed.  View more photos from the drive here.

Make your appointment to donate blood at an upcoming drive by going to http://www.redcrossblood.org and give the gift of life in the legacy of Scott Falk.  #givelife

Written by  Joy Squier, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, Chicago & Northern IL Red Cross

Blood Drive Birthday Party – “It’s the Best Gift to Give Back”

photo 4Rather than toasting champagne on her 50th birthday, Beth Dustman raised a cupcake to raise her blood sugar level with friends at the American Red Cross.

“We wanted to do something meaningful on our birthdays,” said Beth, joined by Winnetka friends Beverly Petersen, Midge Hano and Kim Falk, who all rolled up a sleeve with Beth to give blood. Kim arranged for the birthday party at a blood drive by the Red Cross in Chicago where her husband, Scott Falk, serves on the organization’s Board of Directors.

“It’s the best gift to give back,” said Beth, surrounded by her friends, and a nod to her father who had leukemia and needed blood.  She holds a sign she wrote that reads, “In celebration of life and friendship.”

Like Beth, the Red Cross is also celebrating a milestone birthday this year marking 100 years of service to Chicago. You can give the gift of blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Every 2 seconds someone needs blood and 1 pint can save up to 3 lives.

Story and photo by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois