We love working with veterans who share our commitment to service and possess the leadership abilities to support our humanitarian organization. That’s why we sat down with Donna Colon, an Army National Guard veteran and the Executive Director of the Red Cross Indiana Region, to learn why she wanted to work for the Red Cross and how being in the military has affected her work with the organization.
When did you join the Red Cross and what roles have you held?
I have been with the Red Cross for more than four years. I began my career on August 3, 2015. My first position was with the Service to the Armed Forces team, and I served as our specialist. From there, I transitioned into the Regional Volunteer Services Officer role where I supported all of our volunteers across the Indiana Region and worked to develop strategies and drive recruitment for our five service lines. Then, I became the Executive Director for the Indiana Region.
In one sentence, describe your role.
Every day I work to recruit, inform and educate external partners about the importance of supporting the critical work we do every day!
How has being in the military made a difference in your role at the Red Cross?
The leadership skills I learned from the military have helped me adapt and overcome the obstacles that I have faced during time here at Red Cross. I worked in high pressure environments, managed large personnel and strategized missions within the military. These skills have taught me to work well with my Red Cross field staff, develop thorough plans and to be flexible. The military for me, has made a huge difference in my personal and professional life, and I am proud of my military career and the lessons I learned.
What do you love most about your job?
I love working for the Red Cross because every day is a new challenge to overcome. I thrive in our fast-paced work environment because that was how I was trained for more than 10 years in the military. I believe in our mission and the growth potential. I can connect and build relationships with all types of external partners. Relationship management has always come easy to me and this particular role has inspired me to keep meeting people, introduce who we are and then recruit the support that we critically need.
I love this job because I am allowed to be that voice of service. I get to witness great deeds from our volunteers daily, and I get to mentor and help volunteers who want to learn more. I have a great role within a great organization, and I am very proud of our Indiana Region.
What does the Red Cross mission mean to you?
The Red Cross mission to me is personal. Back when I was injured during a military deployment overseas, I was sent to the Landstuhl Medical Center. I was approached by two Red Cross volunteers who helped me get civilian clothes. I didn’t know anyone. I was saddened [to see how many of] my brothers and sisters who had been hurt, and I was unsure of what would happen to me.
Those volunteers checked on me, talked to me and introduced me to a pastor that took a handful of us to Luxembourg for a trip. I am grateful to those Red Cross volunteers. They helped me at one of the lowest and saddest moments of my life. When I read that the Service to Armed Forces position was open here in my own back yard, I had to apply, and I am so glad I did.
What would you say to someone who is a fellow veteran who is thinking about applying for a job with the Red Cross?
I would tell my fellow veterans to apply. Your special skill sets transfer, and you will fit into the fast-paced, changing environment. You have the leadership skills, the discipline, the heart of service, and you are not afraid to take the mission and move it forward. You are great under pressure; you deliver and exceed expectations in tough environments and when disasters arise. You are capable of flexibility and you are able to move within the organization based off of your individual skills. We become family in the military, and I can honestly say, in my position, I too have a Red Cross family here. Good luck in your endeavors and never be afraid to march forward!
Like Donna, you can find your dream career at the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/careers to search for opportunities.