The American Red Cross and Pepco: Two Organizations on a Mission to Respond to Disasters

Donna Cooper, American Red Cross

Donna Cooper, Pepco, Salute to Service Gala Co-Chair

Hundreds of military, government, corporate and community leaders will gather Saturday, Oct. 18, for the American Red Cross “Salute to Service” Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. This special event symbolizes the historic relationship between the Red Cross and military members and their families.

Donna Cooper, region president for Pepco, and J.R. Clark, partner, Squire Patton Boggs LLP, are co-chairs of this year’s Gala.

WashingtonExec recently spoke with Cooper about the significance of this fundraising event and how Pepco’s mission aligns with that of the American Red Cross.

“The American Red Cross has a long history of service in our country, especially service during dire times,” Cooper said.

When Americans see news coverage of disasters and other tragic events, we also see the American Red Cross working diligently in the background to bring comfort and safety to those in need.

“Many of us go through life thinking that we won’t be affected by disasters — until we are,” Cooper said. “One constant comfort is knowing that when disaster does strike, the Red Cross will be there in our communities to provide support when we need it most.”

The American Red Cross has been an icon of service and of helping hands for many years.

“I also reflect on its symbol and its name — the Red Cross,” Cooper said. “For me that represents several things. Anytime I’ve seen that symbol, even as a child, it was an image of trust, assistance, response, care and support. It is respected and recognized both nationally and internationally.”

According to Cooper, this symbol aligns perfectly with Pepco’s mission. “Like the Red Cross, Pepco is committed to service to our communities,” Cooper said. “We have had a very longstanding relationship and partnership with the American Red Cross. That partnership was really natural in my becoming the co-chair of the ‘Salute to Service’ Gala.”

When disastrous events occur, first responders move into action to help their communities. Along with police officers, firefighters and EMS responders, we often see the American Red Cross, and power companies like Pepco, working to restore safety and normalcy.

“For our company, safety is our No. 1 priority,” Cooper said. “Considering the increase in weather events that are affecting our nation and the entire world, we are seeing more times of crisis. To be responsive and successful in those crises, collaboration and partnerships are critical.”

This collaboration is so important that Pepco has established a program for better cooperation among emergency responders. “We have what is known as an Emergency Services Partnership Program,” Cooper said. “Through that program, we have an intersection with police, firefighters and other first responders.”

Cooper views the work of the American Red Cross as an extension of the critical responses and service that disasters require.

“Nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross can meet needs that first responders can’t to provide direct aid and support to children and families who find themselves in dire situations,” she said.

The Gala is one of the Red Cross’s largest fundraising events, which translates ultimately into services for those that are most in need.

“Individuals and companies should support the Red Cross because it provides such a valuable service,” Cooper said. “We at Pepco really are on the front lines when major events impact our system. While we are focused on safely restoring power as quickly as possible, organizations such as the Red Cross help to provide the services our customers need until we can get the lights back on.”

To celebrate this partnership, Cooper is looking forward to this year’s Gala for a number of reasons. “An exceptional service award will be going to the Honorable Charlene Drew Jarvis, and I’m excited about that particular award because of the connection between Dr. Jarvis and her father, Charles Drew,” she said. “It’s such an interesting time to follow the development of blood storage technology because of the importance of protecting such a precious resource.” She added that Charlene’s extensive leadership and service to the residents of the District of Columbia is important to recognize.

Cooper is also looking forward to the entertainment offered at this year’s Gala, the NFL Players Chorus, as well as the Tiffany Circle Distinguished Woman Warrior award.

“I love the fact that they are recognizing a distinguished woman for her service,” she said. “So many members of the military have been affected by ongoing action, and it is an honor to recognize an outstanding volunteer for the service hours and dedication she has given to the Walter Reed National Medical Center.”

“We’re proud to be a part of this and look forward to continuing our partnership with the American Red Cross,” Cooper said. “An important aspect of our relationship is helping our valued customers be prepared for disaster, which can help mitigate the impact. We appreciate our work with the Red Cross and its help to make sure that our customers know what they need to do ahead of time so they are more ready when disaster does strike.”

Learn more about this year’s American Red Cross “Salute to Service” Gala here.

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