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DeFrancis Joins American Red Cross as Chief Public Affairs Officer


American Red Cross President and CEO Mark W. Everson announced today that Suzanne C. DeFrancis will join the charity as the Chief Public Affairs Officer. In this role, she will oversee all communications, government affairs and public outreach and integrate these functions to advance the message and mission of the Red Cross.

“Suzy will be a key member of my leadership team,” said Everson. “Her extensive background in public service, public relations and healthcare policy make her well-qualified for this position.”

DeFrancis is currently the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the senior communications advisor to HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, she has managed communications on high-profile issues, including disaster preparedness and response, pandemic planning, and the roll-out of the Medicare prescription drug benefit — an effort which involved thousands of volunteers nationwide. Under her leadership, HHS has developed a 21st Century communications shop utilizing the web, radio and TV broadcasting, blogs and other new media.

From 2002-2004, DeFrancis served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President for Communications where she developed communications strategy and messaging for a wide range of public policy issues. Prior to joining the Administration, she served as Senior Vice President and Director of Public Affairs for the public relations firm of Porter Novelli.

DeFrancis has a personal connection to the American Red Cross – her mother was a Red Cross volunteer during World War II, driving wounded soldiers from Union Station in Washington DC to area hospitals.

“As the daughter of a Red Cross volunteer who served during World War II,” says DeFrancis, “I look forward to helping today’s Red Cross meet the needs and challenges of the people it serves and building on its reputation as one of America’s premier service organizations.”

DeFrancis will start at the Red Cross on August 20, 2007.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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