Peggy Hardek: Board Member with a Vision

Peggy Hardek joined the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois Board of Directors in 2017.  She is a longtime Chicago resident, where she lives with her three children.  Prior to her work on the board, Peggy graduated with high honors from the University of Notre Dame.  She then went on to receive her CPA license and become a partner at PwC, a risk assurance company.  Her experience with PwC spans over more than three decades where, among her many duties, she has delivered programs for internal auditing to multinational companies and assessed risk management on an industry wide scale.

Peggy says she is excited about bringing vision and mission of the Red Cross “to the next generation” and says that she values the Red Cross for the “breadth and scope of their mission and what they represent.”

Peggy is particularly impressed with the humanitarian efforts made by the Red Cross every single day.  Their national and international response to hurricanes, fires, and flooding are just a few of the ways that the organization lends a helping hand to humanity.  The American Red Cross has also provided or committed to provide nearly 3 million dollars for relief work in Syria and neighboring countries and over 1 million dollars in aid to migrants in Europe.

She also recently uncovered a more personal connection to the Red Cross.  After sorting through some of her mother’s belongings following her passing, she found out that her mom was a part of the Junior Red Cross.  Peggy now carries that knowledge in her heart, and it motivates her to use her service to the organization as a way to honor her mother. Peggy was a co-chair along with Jamie Wildman of the 2019 Heroes Breakfast.

For all of her commitment and drive in serving the Red Cross, we would like to thank this outstanding board member!

If you’re considering volunteering, you can learn more and browse open positions here.

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

2019 Wesbury Award Recipients

The Wesbury Leadership Awards were established in 1991 to honor, Stuart A. Wesbury, a former Board Chair, health care professional and outstanding community leader who epitomized humanitarianism and partnership in his professional and volunteer life. This award was established to recognize those who enhance the visibility of the Red Cross by helping us deliver our services and messages of health, safety and preparedness. 

On June 27, 2019 the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois was proud to present this year’s awards to a group of outstanding partners and volunteers who have enhanced the visibility of the Red Cross and our lifesaving mission through dedication and diligence.

DISCOVER is a dedicated corporate parner and a recipient of a Wesbury Award this year for their philanthropic generosity to the Red Cross and our disaster mission.

  • DISCOVER’s support of the Red Cross includes for both Hurricane Michael and Florence this year, proactively activating card member and employee giving platforms to inspire $1.2M in support for disaster relief, which DISCOVER matched with a $1M gift.
  • In addition, for the first time in 2019, DISCOVER included the Red Cross in nation-wide “Together We’re Community” program incentivizing local banks to promote use of Discover Card by rewarding the bank with a $10,000 grant for their local Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER also provided in-kind, national digital Public Service announcements to promote online giving to the Red Cross. 
  • DISCOVER’S philanthropic generosity enables the Red Cross to better prepare and respond to disasters around the country.

Matthew Towson, Director of Community Affairs for DISCOVER accepted the 2019 Corporate Wesbury Award, pictured below with Chicago & Northern Illinois Board Chair Ted Dysart.

The 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award was presented to BETTER, led by Founder and President Susan Noyes for understanding that content sharing the Red Cross story and mission was important for their audience.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Media Wesbury Award.

Dedicated board member Jay Bergman was also honored with a Wesbury Award.

Jay Bergman has graciously served three terms on the Greater Chicago regional Board of Directors; and his many achievements include several significant and unique contributions to the American Red Cross mission:

  • Jay and Lori Bergman stepped up at a very important time in our region history to fund the development of the Blood Facility at the Rauner Center.  This put us well ahead of the curve nationally in consolidating Humanitarian Services and Biomedical Services into one physical location and anticipated many of the important One Red Cross initiatives that are taking place today.
  • Not only did Jay and Lori’s vision and gift improve efficiency for blood collection and distribution, it also included to the creation of the First Secure Bank Blood Reference Laboratory, which serves an important function in research and making sophisticated blood matching possible to improve patient care.
  •  In addition, Jay, almost singlehandedly brought together his colleagues and network partners to stand up the inaugural Board of Directors for the new six county Illinois River Valley chapter. For the past three years, Jay has also led the new team and provided significant guidance and support for the Board as the chapter organization learned and grew. 

Jay accepted the Wesbury Award and is pictured below with board president Ted Dysart (left) and American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan (right).

Five key volunteers were also honored with awards.

Paul Davidson — who goes above and beyond to extend the reach of the American Red Cross in his local community through his work with local community organizations including the Boy Scouts.

Paul’s focus has been on getting youth involved in the mission of the Red Cross through his local Boy Scout troop. Paul created a partnership between a youth volunteer conducting his Eagle Scout project and the Red Cross. The Eagle Scout planned and executed a smoke alarm installation event with a local Fire Department and the Red Cross, installing 65 smoke alarms in 27 homes. Since then, Paul has encouraged other boy scouts to become involved with the Red Cross, encouraging the set-up of a Red Cross Club and facilitating future Eagle Scout projects and building a team of Red Cross leaders!

Paul leads also our Disaster Services Technology team, hosting team meetings, encouraging and training new volunteers and developing leaders. He also is a Marathon team lead and led much of our recent Rockford flooding response.

Gerry Holmes has been a Red Cross volunteer for 11 years. He joined as a communications & public affairs volunteer after retiring from his long career as Director of Media relations at General Motors. 

Since that time, Gerry has deployed to 11 national disasters, has photographed many, many of our Red Cross events, written numerous stories and has singlehandedly managed the 24/7 Media public affairs phone line for years. Thanks to Gerry, the 24/7 ‘on-call’ media team keeps answering the media’s calls each week day or night. Gerry also is a dedicated blood donor and has donated an impressive 81 times – which equates to over 10 gallons!

Sherry Hoy heard about the Red Cross relief efforts during the catastrophic 2017 hurricane season and joined us as a leadership volunteer after a long corporate career. 

Since that time, Sherry has been using her strategic skills in change management and organizational effectiveness to provide significant consultancy and leadership on a variety of project across the region, including analysis of the staff Engage! Survey. 

She has been very involved in teaching Board, volunteer and staff trainings, including becoming an instructor for staff coursework and teaching about volunteer management and leadership at the Disaster Institutes.

Sherry is also a leadership volunteer on the Volunteer Relations team and key liaison with the board Mission Committee. Sherry’s sound advice is something the Leadership team at the Red Cross has come to rely on.

Janaiya Johnson is the Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Deloitte and she was an active supporter of our region’s vision to become a more inclusive region and volunteered to lead the Chicago & Northern IL Diversity survey.

Janaiya volunteered to provide essential oversite, guidance and leadership for our first ever staff survey focused on just Diversity & Inclusion.

She designed and collected the survey data and collaborated with a team of experts at Deloitte on the data analysis, including reporting on the emerging themes and recommendations. Janaiya presented the data and recommendations to the staff teams at meetings at the Rauner Center. She also facilitated the Q & A sessions that resulted.

Janaiya’s significant role in the survey and analysis was core to helping the region build diversity and inclusion priorities and goals for fiscal year 2020. Janaiya did all this work under some very tight deadlines and managed this in addition to the priorities of her day to day role at Deloitte.

Her colleague Tristan Slemmons, Corporate Citizenship Lead at Deloitte attended and accepted the Wesbury award on Janaiya’s behalf.

Jackie Speciale was awarded a Wesbury Award for her extensive efforts to expand the Red Cross’s reach especially in McHenry County.

By attending numerous partner meetings including those with emergency management in McHenry, Jackie has ensured our partners are aware of the scope of the Red Cross services.

Most recently, Jackie led the Red Cross response in serving the communities in Lake and McHenry counties, after two police officers were killed. Jackie organized Red Cross volunteers, built partnerships with over 20 local organizations, and worked tirelessly to serve hundreds of first responders who attended the services.

During these responses, Jackie built team capacity, as she always finds the opportunity to mentor and train new Red Cross volunteers alongside her.

Jackie is willing to jump into action whenever there is a disaster response. Last month, she was in Rockford for our flood response, where she oversaw our inventory and distribution of emergency supplies.

Jackie’s dedication, passion, and willingness to roll up her sleeves is contagious and has made a lasting impact on all.

We are so grateful to all of our partners, board members, donors and volunteers and could not continue the work of our mission with them. Thank you for what you do to support our humanitarian organization.

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

American Red Cross Board Member Doug Zuvich: Paying it Forward

For Doug Zuvich, the American Red Cross holds a very personal connection to his past. He says he had a modest upbringing in Queens, New York, where he was the oldest of seven boys.  As a young man, Mr. Zuvich joined the U.S. Navy, but only six weeks into boot camp, Doug’s grandfather passed away.  He was just 17 years old and for the first time in his young life, he wasn’t in his native New York.

Urgent communication with an armed forces recruit can be quite difficult, as the main correspondence with them is not by telephone, but by mail.  As a result, Doug’s parents were unsure of how to quickly notify him of what had happened.  They contacted the Red Cross and within 12 hours, the organization had facilitated his return home, allowing him to attend his grandfather’s funeral.  Doug was later able to return and complete his basic training, going on to serve the Naval Security Group as a non-commissioned officer.  He continued to serve his country, later becoming an officer in the US Customs and Border Protection Agency.

After the Navy, Doug continued to serve as an Officer with US Customs and Border Protection. Today, Doug leads a global practice that assists companies with tariffs, export controls and sanctions for KPMG LLP, a Big 4 audit and professional services firm.  KPMG is a strong supporter of the Red Cross because, as Mr. Zuvich pointed out, the organization sees “the value of helping people in their time of need.”  Doug’s personal and professional lives converged in their mutual affinity for the Red Cross and Doug was able to seize the opportunity to become more involved in the organization.  He is currently on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Doug is passing on his love for helping people through his children.  He spends time volunteering with them, so that they may see the value of giving to others.  Mr. Zuvich has helped out with the Sound the Alarm initiative, a plan by the Red Cross to install 100,000 smoke alarms for Chicago’s residents, free of charge.  He has also taken his daughter, Miranda, along with him to support efforts made by the Red Cross in responding to fires.

Doug and his daughter, Miranda

When speaking about the organization, Mr. Zuvich explained that he feels “there is a lot of love [in the Red Cross]” and that he is, “[excited] to see what’s next.”  For all of his time and energy spent helping and serving his community, we would like to thank Mr. Doug Zuvich, from the bottom of our hearts!

Thinking of volunteering with American Red Cross?  You can view and apply for volunteer positions here.

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

New display honoring Dr. Charles Drew unveiled in Chicago Red Cross office lobby

On June 18, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois gathered with special guests to celebrate the new display honoring Dr. Charles Drew.

The breakfast reception was attended by staff, volunteer, board members and local community partners including members of Omega Psi Phi, Dr. Drew’s college fraternity, to mark this momentous occasion.


Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan along with board member and hematologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Dr. A Kyle Mack, biomedical services employee Demond Ausley, and AmeriCorps volunteer Dr. Lawrence Cox pulled back the paper cover to reveal the new display.

Dr. Charles Drew was a prominent surgeon, doctor and educator. He was a pioneering African-American medical researcher and the first medical director of the American Red Cross blood bank. His discoveries in the storage and processing of blood for transfusions was groundbreaking and he has since become known as the “father of modern blood banking.”

The Dr. Drew initiative was spearheaded by several Red Cross employees and staff including Raul Mora, Demond Ausley and AmeriCorps member Dr. Lawrence Cox. Their enterprising ideas helped create the path on which we plan to continue honoring Dr. Drew for years to come.

 The Dr. Charles R. Drew Initiative launched in 2019 with an inaugural blood drive held in partnership with Omega Psi Phi, Dr. Drew’s fraternity, on June 8 at the Kroc Center. And, a series of blood drives will be held in partnership with the Chicago City Colleges in the upcoming year.

At the inaugural blood drive, 54 units of blood were collected including 36 units from first time donors. Now, this permanent wall installation will continue to showcase Dr. Drew’s accomplishments and work which we still are benefitting from today.

The display placard reads:

Dr. Charles R. Drew, a prominent African American, was a dedicated scientist and educator pioneering in blood collection and plasma processing. He laid the foundation for modern blood banking and revolutionized the medical profession. The American Red Cross blood program of today is a direct result of his groundbreaking work in developing large-scale collection, processing and storage of human blood and plasma products during World War II. Among his innovations as the first medical director of the Red Cross blood bank were mobile blood donation stations, later called “bloodmobiles.” Dr. Drew’s discoveries and his work in organizing and administering blood banks continue to save countless lives today.”

See more photos here.

You can help save lives by rolling up a sleeve and donating blood and encouraging others to do the same! Each blood donation can help save up to three lives. Sign up to make an appointment at an upcoming blood drive near you by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.

Memorial Blood Drive honors Marie Tremain

Marie Tremain of Streator, IL was an active donor and volunteer for the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley chapter. Philanthropy and volunteering were very important to her, and she was with the Red Cross as a volunteer for over 50 years.

Marie passed away in December of 2018, but her memory lives on in her family and the passion she instilled in others. On Thursday, May 16 the Red Cross hosted a memorial blood drive in Streator at the New Beginnings Baptist Church.

Brian McDaniel, executive director of the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley presented a plaque to Marie’s husband, Lowell and her daughters Linda and Pam.  Some of her grandchildren even came in from out of state to attend the drive and donate blood.  Twenty-two units of blood were collected, with each unit potentially saving three lives.

Marie Tremain’s family accepted a plaque from executive director Brian McDaniel pictured with Red Cross blood drive volunteers

We are so grateful to all our volunteers, and thankful to have the incredible dedication and passion of volunteers like Marie. 

Sign up to make an appointment to donate blood by going to www.redcrossblood.org

Written by Red Cross Communications intern Eric Rzeszutko