Each month, the Austin Young Chamber will highlight a member who is doing extraordinary work to strengthen our businesses, our community…or both! Showcasing their achievements is just one way we can put a spotlight on the talented, collaborative, and community-focused workforce we have here in Central Texas.
This month we honor a Corporate Member – the American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas.
The Red Cross’s mission is to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. Historically this has meant hurricanes, tornadoes and house fires. Now it also means responding to food insecurity, financial hardship and protecting vulnerable communities. The biggest challenge for the Red Cross has been adapting and expanding their mission in order to meet greater needs.
AYC Board Member, Alex Villa, is the Chief Operating Officer for the American Red Cross Central and South Texas Region, a Corporate Member of the Austin Young Chamber. In his role, Alex oversees 83 counties – from El Paso to Austin, and Bryan/Waco to Laredo.
His work includes managing Red Cross facilities and fleet which includes Disaster Operations Trailers, Communications Units, and Logistics Trailers which hold disaster relief supplies. These resources are stationed across the region and ready to mobilize when a large scale disaster hits.
In addition to the physical resources he oversees, Alex is responsible for making sure the Red Cross has all of the resources necessary to carry out their mission: financial organization and stability, IT infrastructure, HR, and employee training. Basically making sure all of the trains are running on time and everyone has the resources needed to do their job and carry out the mission!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas has also had to deal with natural disasters like the tornadoes that hit early on. This meant adapting to challenges and implementing new systems into something that would work during a viral pandemic. Since people can no longer share rooms, the Red Cross implemented congregate sheltering. In partnership with local hotels, individuals and families could be hosted in separate rooms while conducting needs assessments via phone, allowing volunteers and clients to be socially distant while providing the standard high quality of assistance.
The American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas has a large young professional workforce and the organization and their employees have benefited from being an AYC Corporate Member. Their employees have been able to connect with Austin’s young professionals while spreading awareness about the American Red Cross. They also attend AYC programs, specifically the past LEAD Summits and professional development programs. They’ve been able to take back strategies and tools to use with their own teams as well as become better leaders themselves.
As we settle into a new normal, Alex and the Red Cross would like to remind you that you can make a difference, but volunteering is going to look different going forward. The American Red Cross has opportunities for volunteers to virtually help families going through a disaster. Of course, you can always donate blood and plasma to save three lives immediately!
It’s really been helpful for us to be members of the Young Chamber because it’s been able to put more development into our people. We’ve got an outlet to a large group of individuals who are willing to support the Red Cross. Last year, we put a call out for people to support our Sound the Alarm campaign and we got volunteers from AYC for that. More recently, we’ve had people who were able to donate blood. Demand for blood supply is very high right now so we’ve been asking healthy people to schedule time to go into their local Red Cross to give blood. That’s probably been the most helpful.Alex Villa | Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross serving Central and South Texas