This African-American history month, we are honoring black men and women who played a pivotal role in helping the American Red Cross become the organization that it is today. This week, we’d like to highlight Gwen T. Jackson.
Gwen T. Jackson began her career with the Red Cross in 1961 as a volunteer in the Service to Military Families Department of the Greater Milwaukee Chapter. Jackson also held a number of other positions within the Red Cross, including Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee of the Greater Milwaukee Chapter, until she was appointed National Chairman of Volunteers in 1989. She was the first African American to be appointed to this position, which was established in 1953. During her tenure, she implemented the results of the Volunteer 2000 Study, completed in 1988 to study the downturn in volunteerism and provide a blueprint for future growth.
While serving with the Red Cross, Jackson provided assistance during major disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and support during the Persian Gulf War. She later became a member of the American National Red Cross Board of Governors in 1992 and was re-elected for a second term in 1995. Jackson was presented with the Cynthia Wedel Award, an award given to outstanding Red Cross volunteers, for her 50 years of dedication and volunteer leadership in 2003. She currently holds an appointment as Chair Emeritus of the American Red Cross Milwaukee Chapter.