Red Cross chapter for Westmoreland, Armstrong and Indiana counties hires director
When Donna Pacella left her post at the American Red Cross after 32 years, including 19 as executive director, the agency's board of directors knew they had big shoes to fill.
The board has hired Dana Bauer as the executive director for Westmoreland, Armstrong and Indiana counties.
As executive director, Bauer will oversee the three counties' volunteers and act as a liaison between the agency and high-profile donors.
“I couldn't be happier that she has agreed to serve,” said Stan Hunt, philanthropy chairman. “I think she will fill Donna Pacella's shoes well.”
Pacella, who left in early February to work as developmental director for Boys Town in Las Vegas and to be closer to her grandson, said she was excited that Bauer was hired to replace her.
“I know that she has a great passion for the mission of the Red Cross,” Pacella wrote in an email. “While it was difficult to leave my (position at) American Red Cross, I know it is left in capable, compassionate hands.”
The Westmoreland chapter provides all of the blood product in the county, Bauer said. The agency's employees and volunteers offer disaster relief locally and in other states, in addition to providing supplies to local military units.
Bauer, who started last month, said she hopes to live up to Pacella's legacy.
“This chapter under her leadership has been recognized nationally,” Bauer said. “It has a good reputation, and I want to continue her ways.”
She said her key goals are to increase the volunteer base and raise more money for the chapter.
“We face the challenges all nonprofits do: how to do more with less,” she said. “We need to ensure that services continue, and we want services to maintain quality.”
Bauer's experience in nonprofit work is extensive. Before joining the Red Cross, she worked as president of community investment at the United Way. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Seton Hill University and as a therapist.
She is president of the Westmore-land County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Program Advisory Board.
Bauer said the defining moment in her career was when she went back to school to earn her master's degree from California University of Pennsylvania.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to not just expand my education but also my experiences,” she said.
Bauer said she draws on personal experiences for inspiration in her work. She has family members with special needs, and she said she knows many others with similar struggles. Instead of dwelling on the negatives that arise, Bauer said she uses the experiences to improve her work.
“Whether it's natural disasters or behavioral health, the opportunities for recovery are better when support systems are strong and better engaged,” she said.
In her free time — which between her work and volunteering is rare — Bauer enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
“It's that simple,” she said. “They're a precious part of my life that really rejuvenates me.”
Alicia McElhaney is an intern for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.