National Young Professionals Council
The National Young Professionals Council was formed on July 1, 2008 by former National Youth Council members who wish to continue their leadership at the national level of the American Red Cross. This advisory board provides strategic advice to the Office of the National Chair of Volunteers and seeks to leverage the work experience and broad skill sets of young professionals to further the mission of the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross National Young Professionals Council (NYPC) serves to represent young professional volunteers throughout the organization. They come from various backgrounds; some previous National Youth Council members, community leaders, and trend setting philanthropists. Meet the members of the NYPC below.
Mahati Acharya has been a Red Cross volunteer for the past thirteen years. She began volunteering in New Jersey where she was President of the Youth Council of Central NJ and the first youth representative on the chapter’s Board. She was the Navin Narayan Youth Speaker at the National Convention in 2002, member of the National Youth Council from 2003 to 2006, and founder of the National Young Professionals Council in 2008. She has also been involved with the Red Cross at the international level, representing North America on the Steering Committee for the World Youth Meeting held in Solferino, Italy. Mahati is married to a fellow Red Crosser and they live in New York City. Mahati is a Vice President at BlackRock, focusing on client business management and strategy.
Bianca Kahlenberg began her American Red Cross experience as a freshman in high school at her hometown chapter in Martin County, Florida. After attending her chapter’s Youth Leadership Development Camp, she became a very active volunteer in disaster services and fundraising. She has co-led the National Youth Council, served as a disaster intern at National Headquarters, and led her university’s Red Cross Club. Currently Bianca is living and working in DC for a grant writing firm that serves non-profit, healthcare and university clients. In her spare time Bianca enjoys running, yoga, cooking and is planning on completing her first half marathon this year.
Justin Lam began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2000 as a seventh grader, when he attended the Silicon Valley Chapter’s youth Leadership Development Conference. Justin has taken on many leadership positions within the Red Cross, having served as co-chair of his chapter’s Youth Executive Board, youth member of the chapter’s Board of Directors, vice president of the UCLA Red Cross Club, and secretary of the National Youth Council. In 2005, he addressed the American Red Cross National Convention as the Navin Narayan Youth Speaker. Justin also interned for the British Red Cross while doing an exchange year at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Justin lives in New York, NY and graduated cum laude from UCLA with a degree in political science. He now works as the national operations manager at Educators 4 Excellence, an education policy organization that helps teachers to elevate their voices around issues affecting the teaching profession and student outcomes.
Jessica Ports has been with the American Red Cross for 12 years, primarily as a disaster responder and international humanitarian law (IHL) instructor. She is originally from Florida, where she worked as Youth & Young Adult Manager for the Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter, and currently volunteers as International Services Chair for the Southeast Louisiana Chapter in New Orleans. Jessica is a PhD Candidate at the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University, with studies focusing on international humanitarian response and the applications of technology in disaster planning and response. She also serves as faculty there, teaching a course on information and communication technology for development.
Elizabeth Quintana began volunteering at her hometown chapter in Arlington, VA ten years ago as a Health & Safety youth instructor, teaching campers basic first aid and disaster preparedness. She was the first youth member to serve on the chapter’s Board of Directors, and while a student at the University of Virginia, she founded and served as president of the campus Red Cross Club. As a member of the National Youth Council, she produced digital content to promote volunteerism and oversaw the creation of the curriculum for the 2008 and 2009 National Youth Institute. Elizabeth resides in Arlington and works in Washington D.C. for a transit agency. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and blogging about her favorite television shows.
Aaron Rodgers is a Special Events Associate with the Greater Chicago Region who works with the Chicago Auxiliary Society. He is passionate about young people and philanthropy, and fundraising is a key piece of his work with the Chicago young professionals group because he is based in the chapter’s development department. He has very clear ideas about how to start and run a successful Club Red and will be a great resource to other Club Reds and chapters — especially Development departments at chapters — looking to start Club Reds.
Katie Soe became a Red Cross volunteer in 2003 with the Bay Area Chapter in California. There, she attended and helped staff the Youth Leadership Development Camp, and was inspired to start Red Cross Clubs both in high school and college for which she especially enjoyed organizing public health-related service activities. Simultaneously, she served in Red Cross leadership positions from the chapter to the national level, in various lines of service. These include serving as the Youth Representative on the Bay Area Chapter and Southern California Blood Region Boards of Directors as the Pacific Service Area Youth Liaison (CA, HI, Pacific Islands), and as the Youth Coordinator for the Claremont Chapter. She has also coordinated regional youth leadership trainings in California. After college, Katie did research at the National Institutes of Health in the Washington, D.C. metro area and served as co-chair of the National Capital Region International Services Committee. Katie is currently a medical school student in Omaha, Nebraska. In her free time she enjoys running, playing violin and piano, and traveling.
Sandy Tesch Wilkins began volunteering for the Red Cross in the summer of 1998 when she was fourteen years old. Her work with the Red Cross has since included many roles in service delivery and governance, including positions as a youth board member at the Bay Area Chapter and the Northern California Blood Services Region, and counselor at the Bay Area Chapter’s Leadership Development Center. While attending UC Berkeley, Sandy founded and served as president of the campus Red Cross Club, recruiting hundreds of active volunteers and creating an accredited student-run class about the Red Cross. She served on the American Red Cross National Youth Council for six years, including three years as chair, and she has represented American Red Cross youth in Senegal, The Gambia, Kenya, Italy, Switzerland, and Indonesia. Sandy now chairs the American Red Cross National Young Professionals Council and represents the Americas on the Youth Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Sandy lives in San Francisco with her husband, Ryan, and works as a fundraiser for UC Berkeley.
Pat West started as a volunteer with the Red Cross as a freshman in high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was active as a Leadership Development Camp counselor, first aid instructor, lifeguard, co-chair of his local youth team and a member of the Bay Area Board of Directors. While studying at UCLA, Pat served as president of the campus club and Chair of the National Youth Council. He started the Silicon Valley Club Red when he lived in the area, and now resides in Boise, ID working in financial services in what is best described as a small consulting/head hunting firm. When not working, Pat enjoys all types of outdoor activities including but not limited to backpacking, surfing, trail running and swimming.