The refugee crisis in Afghanistan is the greatest effort of the American Red Cross to date

The Afghan evacuation crisis is already the largest refugee relief project the American Red Cross has led in recent history, its president and CEO said Friday before accepting a leadership award at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The American Red Cross has provided so-called comprehensive mass provisioning – shelter and medical assistance – to 22,000 Afghan refugees at four U.S. military bases, while providing assistance and training Department of Defense personnel in full mass provisioning at 14 other US military bases, Gail McGovern told Deseret News.

McGovern received the International Executive of the Year Award 2021 from BYU’s Marriott School of Management during a dinner at the Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center on Friday evening.

The White House has announced that it will relocate 95,000 Afghans, according to news reports.

“During my tenure with the Red Cross, this is the largest refugee project we’ve participated in,” said McGovern, who led the organization after it was taken over in 2008 out of financial distress. The size and scope of the Reds The mutual effort towards Afghan evacuees is so great that organizing officials go back to the 1970s when the Red Cross helped refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia to make greater efforts.

The Red Cross has provided 580,000 items and 330,000 meals and snacks to Afghan evacuees.

“So many of these people came up with nothing, I mean absolutely nothing,” McGovern said. “No shoes, dirty clothes, no diapers for the children. It was absolute and is still heartbreaking. “

The charity’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance on this scale is a sign that American generosity is alive and well in an era of political division, she said. The American Red Cross is politically neutral and has 300,000 volunteers.

“There is no such thing as a typical volunteer,” she says. “They have different political backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds. You know, it’s a beautiful thing and I just feel privileged to be a part of it. “

“I have this point of view where I can see the generosity of the American public,” added McGovern, “and I think there is no country like ours in that regard. The per capita charitable giving in the United States is higher than any other country, and I can see it. I see that in disasters. I see that when installing smoke alarms. “

McGovern spent Friday at BYU giving leadership advice to business students, visiting donors at a campus blood drive, and receiving the award from BYU President Kevin Worthen and the Marriott School’s National Advisory Council.

American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern speaks with BYU student and blood donor Ryan Best, 24, during a visit to a Red Cross blood drive on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, Friday, September 24th 2021. BYU’s Marriott School of Management honored her with the International Executive of the Year Award on Friday. Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Past winners include former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O’Neill, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer, former ExxonMobile CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Randal Quarles of the Board of Governors Federal Reserve.

During her acceptance speech, McGovern said she was pulled into the Red Cross position in 2008 because of the intellectual challenge of a turnaround job. The charity had an operating deficit of $ 209 million.

She succeeded but said the work had also changed her for the better.

“The award honors someone who is an exemplary leader, someone with integrity, someone with high moral and ethical standards. Gail is all of these things, ”Brigitte Madrian, dean of the Marriott School, told Deseret News.

McGovern is a decorated leader. A former dean of Harvard Business School introduced her at the recognition dinner and said he was one of his great achievements in recruiting her to teach at Harvard before joining the Red Cross.

“We honor a world class teacher. I don’t say this lightly. Her students loved her, and she loved her. Her colleagues saw her worth by making her a professor of management practice … and she was recognized and treated as a high-level colleague – valued, trusted, and admired by the faculty there, “said Elder Kim B. Clark, a Retired General Authority Seventy and the National Advisory Council Professor of Business at BYU Marriott School.

“She is very tough, but she has a heart of gold,” he added.

McGovern clearly understood BYU. When she posed for a photo at the campus blood drive that suggested Cosmo, the BYU sports mascot in a blue jersey, was donating blood, a bystander asked her what color it was.

“He’s bleeding blue,” she said as if it was obvious. “He’s Kosmo.”

American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern prepares for a photo with BYU mascot Cosmo the Cougar at a blood drive.

Brigitte C. Madrian, Dean of the BYU Marriott School of Business, left, Cosmo the Cougar, center, and American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern prepare for a photo op while visiting a Red Cross blood drive at BYU in Provo , Utah, on Friday, September 24, 2021. McGovern received the International Executive of the Year Award from the BYU Marriott School of Management. Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

This is the second time BYU’s Marriott School honors McGovern, former President of Fidelity Personal Investments and former Vice President of AT & T’s Consumer Markets Division. The school’s Romney Institute of Public Management presented her with the 2015 Administrator of the Year Award.

BYU’s sponsor, Latter-day Saint Church of Jesus Christ, has worked with the American Red Cross for 34 years. McGovern met with church leaders in 2012.

“It has been inspiring for me to see your leadership role in the American Red Cross,” said Sharon Eubank, president of the Latter-day charity. “She had to deal with financial crises, personnel crises and emergencies one after the other. She’s a spontaneous leader and she’s really good. She has boosted the reputation of the American Red Cross, ”said Sister Eubank, first counselor in the Church Relief Society general presidency.

“I can’t describe what an honor it is to receive the award,” said McGovern in her acceptance speech, “and I want to make you proud for the rest of my career, so that you know I deserve it. It was a pleasure to share the day with you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. “

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