The “girl from high tech” finds renewed purpose with the Red Cross

Suzie Hall

The American Red Cross honored Suzie Hall with the Clara Barton Honor Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership in Sonoma County for her extensive volunteer efforts. Named after the founder of the American Red Cross, this award recognizes a volunteer for service in a series of leadership positions held over several years.

The top-honor recipient joined the Red Cross back in 2014 through San Jose’s local chapter. Following her departure from a career in Silicon Valley at Apple Inc., Suzie searched for a new community to call home. Hall sought a slower pace of life and desired to be closer to friends and family, so she put down new roots in Oakmont in Santa Rosa. She quickly dedicated her time and energy to a volunteer leadership position within the Red Cross using her IT and seasoned management experience to serve the needs of the organization.

Her current focus is on the Volunteer Connection Tech Team and she works with two other volunteers – Linnea Dunn and Ayman Baydoun. Hall’s expertise and strong leadership help manage and streamline the system. If volunteers have an issue or question, they can write in for support. “It’s a huge system that runs the lifeblood of how we communicate with everyone.” Volunteers update their availability and accept shifts, among other things.

The pandemic has not hindered Hall’s ability to problem solve and innovate to accomplish tasks remotely. “I don’t need to go into an office anymore,” she says. “We can be just as effective as a team working in a virtual world.”

Hall reports that over time she has switched roles within the organization, enabling her to cross paths with a wide variety of inspirational individuals she would not have otherwise had an opportunity to meet.

For example, aiding in the 2017 Red Cross Gala in San Francisco, Hall shepherded retired major general Mike Myatt. He helped lead the Marine’s 100-hour assault and liberate Kuwait City in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.

Making the acquaintance of the late Mary Lou Chapman stands out as another particularly delightful memory for the award winner. Chapman joined the Red Cross as a Donut Dollie in 1943, bravely serving up comfort and conversation handing out coffee and donuts to troops in England and France during World War II.

The self-described “girl from high tech” is grateful for the window into another way of life Red Cross offers. “Through the Red Cross I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever known,” says Hall. “Their hearts are in it.” Hall adds that the volunteers work just as hard as those in the corporate environment. “I like the passion and that kind of commitment.”
Hall plans to be at the frontline this upcoming fire season. Noting the need for training and education for those who wish to volunteer, she emphasizes the time to join is now. “People need to prepare all year round. Tons of training needs to take place if people are serious about helping,” she adds.

The American Red Cross thanks and congratulates Suzie Hall on receiving this award, as well as for her past and continued commitment to prevent and alleviate human suffering through the American Red Cross.

About the author: Lindsay R. Peak is a Public Affairs volunteer with the Northern California Coastal Region.