Once a client, now chair of the board
Rebecca Taylor-Ford recently began her second year in service as Board Chair for the North Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. She stepped into the role in 2019 after several years of volunteering for the Red Cross in various capacities. According to her peers, she leads with a light touch and a self-assuredness that are well-earned from personal and professional experience.
It turns out that Rebecca was also once a Red Cross client.
In 2014, Rebecca and her family survived a house fire that destroyed their home. When the Red Cross showed up, a team member helped walk the family through immediate and long-term recovery, one step at a time.
“If I didn’t have that person to help me put one foot in front of the next, I don’t know what I would have done,” says Rebecca.
The experience impacted her so deeply that she vowed she would – after her family rebuilt their home and lives – volunteer for the Red Cross. And she did. Before joining the Board in 2016, she served on disaster teams and practiced case management for survivors like herself. She once attended a disaster response call at 2AM and eventually directed a family with pets to the same hotel where she and her family had stayed years before. The circle was complete.
“It felt great to be able to say you’re going to get through this, and this is what to expect,” she says.
Professionally, Rebecca works for Kaiser as the Nursing Director for the Maternal Child Division on the inpatient side. A career nurse since graduating college, she received her Masters at SSU and her doctorate at USF. Her professional training has amplified her work with the Red Cross. “In healthcare, you have to work with all different partners to have the impact you want,” she says. “The same is true when it comes to disasters: who do we need to partner with to have the best impact for our community.”
Further, Rebecca sees a distinct parallel between her work and volunteer efforts. “Within the health care setting, my job is to support the care team so we can have good patient outcomes,” she says. “The Red Cross works to support the volunteers on the frontlines in service to community members impacted by disaster.”
Passionate about engagement and “good fit,” Rebecca hopes that every volunteer – whether a fellow Board member, disaster team member, or Pillowcase Project coordinator – seeks a role that aligns with their skill set.
“Direct interaction with people in need is so powerful,” she reflects. “You’re working with clients in a direct manner at their time of greatest need. You can see the impact immediately.”
Now – more than ever – Rebecca believes that the Red Cross will be critical. “Despite the social unrest and chaos with the global pandemic, our values continue to be true,” she says. “For every person in our community, we serve in a neutral, accommodating way, regardless of personal or cultural beliefs. The need of our people is growing, and this organization is going to be more relevant and needed in the years to come.”
Thank you, Rebecca, for your wise and thoughtful leadership.