|Springfield State Journal Register
June 28, 2002
Springfield native to direct Red Cross
By DORI MEINERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — The American Red Cross, embroiled in controversy over the way it dispersed funds to terrorism victims’
families, on Thursday chose Marsha Johnson Evans, a Springfield native and retired Navy admiral, to steer the nonprofit out of
Evans, 54, retired from the Navy in 1997 as a rear admiral, one of only a handful of women to achieve that rank. She currently is
executive director of Girl Scouts of the USA.
"Marsha has both the head and the heart needed to head the Red Cross," said Red Cross chairman David McLaughlin, who
acknowledged "the last nine months have been some of the most difficult" for the organization.
"This is an important turning point," McLaughlin said.
Evans’ appointment as Red Cross president comes months after her predecessor, Bernadine Healy, was forced out by the board.
The Red Cross was criticized when it was learned that funds donated to its Liberty Fund, intended for victims of the Sept. 11
attacks, were to be set aside for other uses. The Red Cross also was swept up in the debate over how to handle the Israeli
branch’s exclusion from the global Red Cross organization. And, the organization was under a court-ordered consent decree with
the Food and Drug Administration for repeated violations of rules aimed at keeping its donated blood supply safe.
"This is a time of great challenge for many charitable organizations, including the Red Cross," Evans said. "On the one hand, we
need to motivate Americans to donate their time and treasure, which is never easy. But it always comes down to whether they
trust an organization and believe in its work."
Evans pledged to "build trust" in the Red Cross.
Despite the criticism of its response to Sept. 11, she said: "My observation is that the Red Cross never lost sight of its responsibility
to every community and every victim of the other disasters that occurred, some 45,000, in the months since last September."
She said she was personally touched by the Red Cross from beginner swim lessons at age 6 in Rhode Island to notification of a
family emergency when her military family was stationed in North Africa. Working alongside the Red Cross, she directed the
Navy’s emergency response in the San Francisco area after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.
Evans was born in Springfield and lived there until age 5. Her father, Walter Johnson, returned to the city after he retired from the
Navy, and she visited him often until his death in 1997.
In the Navy, she held a variety of command posts. From 1993 to 1995, she led the Navy Recruiting Command with more than
6,000 employees in 1,200 locations. She was chief of staff at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. She also served as
commanding officer of the Treasure Island Naval Station in the San Francisco Bay area.
As executive director of the Girls Scouts’ national organization, Evans increased contributions, built up its volunteer ranks and
increased its diversity, McLaughlin said.
Evans becomes the 13th president of the American Red Cross on Aug. 5. The board asked her to commit informally to a five- to
seven-year tenure, McLaughlin said. Evans’ annual salary will be $450,000, which he said is mid-range for nonprofits of similar
size. She said she is paid $325,000 a year by the Girl Scouts.