Interview: Jackie Speier, Former Red Cross Youth

Last fall, I had the exciting opportunity to interview Jackie Speier, a longtime public servant and current congressional candidate.  Ms. Speier is also a Red Cross volunteer – and she started her career as a youth.

I was inspired by this interview since I share many of the same experiences with Ms. Speier.  It is remarkable to see how volunteering for the Red Cross literally changes lives.

How did you get started as a Red Cross youth?

I started out stuffing monkeys at my youth club at Mercy High School in Burlingame.  I later became president of the club.  Then I was on the regional board for the Bay Area Chapter, and I became president of that, too.  I also attended the Bay Area’s Leadership Development Center (LDC) as a delegate and then as a counselor.  Attending LDC had a profound effect on me; it is the reason I decided to go into public service and seek public office.  The Bay Area Chapter sent me to another camp and I was a delegate and then a counselor there, too.  I also took my first airplane trip with the Red Cross; when I was 17 I went to National Convention in Denver. 

What skills did you gain?  How do you use these skills today?

Leadership development training created confidence in me and showed me that I had leadership skills.  That is how it works – someone takes notice of your innate skills and helps you build on them. 

What message do you have for a young person just starting as a Red Cross volunteer?

I would tell him or her to take full advantage of the opportunities the Red Cross has because they are experiences you will use for the rest of your life.  Your personal and professional development will be greatly enhanced.  Plus, the American Red Cross is the greatest non-profit in the history of the world.

Sandy Tesch, California

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2 Responses

  1. I think that the American Red Cross is always seen as a place for young people looking to get into medicine or health and safety or relief work to volunteer at, but doesn’t get enough credit for being a place that builds youth leaders. Jackie’s story shows that you don’t have to be a future doctor to learn the skills needed for leadership, whether it’s in the public or the private sector.

    As the 90th Anniversary goes on for the rest of the year, I look forward to finding more stories like Jackie’s that can show the diverse range of experiences from former youth volunteers.

  2. Congratuletins for yours amazing activity.

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