The American Red Cross “Salute to Service Gala” is drawing near, and WashingtonExec is excited to share an inside look at this exciting event in a series of interviews with key people associated with the Gala.
The “Salute to Service Gala” will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Funds raised will support Red Cross services right here in our community.
This annual event is popular among attendees because it honors Americans who have generously served our country, and it symbolizes the historical relationship between the Red Cross and our military. This year’s honorees include Secretary of the Army John McHugh, who will be receiving the Lifetime of Service Award; Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, Surgeon General of the Army, the 2014 Tiffany Circle Distinguished Woman Warrior and the Honorable Charlene Drew Jarvis, Exceptional Service Award.
J.R. Clark, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs LLP and Donna Cooper, President, Pepco Region, Pepco Holdings, LLC are co-chairs of the event. WashingtonExec recently spoke with J.R. Clark about his involvement with the American Red Cross, as well as why he is eagerly anticipating this year’s “Salute to Service” Gala.
WashingtonExec: What led you to become involved with the 2014 American Red Cross Gala?
J.R. Clark: I’ve been on the board for a few years, and I have come to know Linda Mathes, the CEO of the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region. I had attended a few galas, and they’re very inspiring. They really do remind me of the importance of the Red Cross. I look at this opportunity as a way to increase my involvement and help in a more direct way to bring some of the funding to the Red Cross so it can continue doing its great work.
WashingtonExec: Why should people should support the Red Cross, and how can this year’s Gala fit into companies’ charitable giving strategies?
J.R. Clark: The Red Cross is an essential non-profit that provides services like blood donations and assisting families in need during crisis moments. I think it’s important for all of us to understand that the Red Cross is a non-profit. I think there’s a misunderstanding about how it’s funded, that it’s somehow part of the government, or there’s a monetary relationship with the government, but that’s not the case. It’s important to me that our community continues to support the Red Cross and just the same, I think corporations everywhere, and especially in the greater Washington region, need to be supportive of the Red Cross. It’s still a tough economy for a number of businesses, but we all benefit from a strong Red Cross. So when the time comes to decide how dollars should be allocated to support the various non-profits in the region, I think it’s important that the Red Cross be considered as a part of that because it has a unique mission. That mission is to be there for families in challenged situations, and that’s why I feel companies large and small should make this a priority when it comes to giving each year.
WashingtonExec: Speaking of support, how have your fundraising efforts been going so far?
J.R. Clark: We’re actually slightly ahead of our expectation. Our target is clear, and the response has been tremendous. We have a great team; leading the way has been Linda Mathes, our local Red Cross CEO. Co-chairing this Gala with Donna has been wonderful. Donna Cooper is just a great leader and has helped to meet all the demands of putting this together. This is the time of year when there are a number of dinners out there, so I was a little nervous about how things would go. However, our fundraising efforts have exceeded my expectations in terms of community response, individual contributions, as well as those from businesses.
WashingtonExec: You mentioned that you’ve attended a few of the past “Salute to Service” Galas. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? Can we expect to see anything new or different this year?
J.R. Clark: Well, I’ll tell you some of the things that I’m glad aren’t different — the presence of the volunteers and the presence of those who wear the uniform for our country. As you know, it’s a salute to service, so every year we make a point to recognize those who put their lives on the line in a number of different ways. So that’s something I’m excited about seeing again this year.
Something else I’m really excited about is the recognition of Charlene Drew Jarvis; she’ll be receiving the exceptional service honoree award this year. Dr. Jarvis has been a mentor and someone who’s always been there for me personally. More significantly, she’s been there for the District and the greater Washington area, having served on the City Council for 21 years, serving as the President of Southeastern University, and she’s been a tremendous leader in the Greater Washington area for so long.
Also, we’ll be recognizing the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, so that’s going to be exciting this year. Along with that, I’m looking forward to our volunteer honorees. That’s always a special moment and this year, Dr. Inge Guen, will be recognizing those who volunteer their time, money, and resources, that’s always exciting for us.
Our entertainment will also be very exciting this year. The NFL Players Chorus, which is a mixture of Super Bowl champs, former All Pros, Hall of Famers and the like, will be serving as our entertainment, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to that as well.
There will also be some really interesting and fun items as part of the auction, which of course we do every year. But the honorees — really recognizing our men and women in uniform — that’s going to be the highlight for me. Every year, it really warms the heart and reminds you how fortunate we are to have these men and women out there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
WashingtonExec: How does Squire Patton Boggs fit in with supporting the Red Cross Gala? Are your missions connected?
J.R. Clark: Squire Patton Boggs is actually a recent combination of the law firms Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs. Each firm had a history of supporting the Red Cross, so the new, larger firm has been even more committed. Our history has us spending a fair amount of time and resources on the Red Cross, and this year is no exception. Our firm, like so many other organizations in the District, understands the importance of the Red Cross and is happy to commit both time and money to this essential cause. From day one, Squire Patton Boggs has been a total support of my efforts to help the Red Cross.
You can learn more about the American Red Cross “Salute to Service” Gala here.