Former Red Cross Director Calls Organization ‘Top Heavy Bureaucracy’

Frederick Henderson has long had a passion for charity and helping others. For five years he served as a Volunteer CPR and Disaster Preparedness Instructor with The American Red Cross. For four years he served as the Emergency Services Director at the American Red Cross of Northern Utah.  He holds a Master’s degree in Health Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Health Administrative Services from Weber State University where he currently serves as Grant Project Director and Instructor. This weekend, Dr. Henderson was gracious enough to give us his insider perspective on the scandals currently buffeting the American Red Cross organization.

“I appreciate you shedding the light of public opinion and discourse on this heartbreaking situation,” Dr. Henderson began. “I only ask that when possible we distinguish between the national American Red Cross fiasco, and the local American Red Cross, who are still altruistic and doing their best in the position they’ve been forced into.”

Dr. Henderson also expressed grave sorrow at reading the viral social media posts and news articles recounting alleged abuse, neglect, and mismanagement by Red Cross workers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

“As the former Emergency Services Director and paid employee of the American Red Cross of Northern Utah,” Henderson says, “I have been hesitant to comment, mostly because I did not want the volunteers I worked with to feel unappreciated. Their continued altruistic service to their communities are invaluable. However, I can be silent no longer.”

Dr. Henderson relates that, for well over 100 years, local chapters — such as the one he volunteered and worked at in Northern Utah — were autonomously funded and controlled by a local board of directors and their local community. Not so anymore. It used to be that the national organization was less of a controlling entity, and more of an informational and coordination hub that received a fee from local chapters for issuing charters.

“I believe this was the original intent of the founders of this formerly respectable organization,” Dr. Henderson says. “However, today, due to a top-heavy bureaucracy, in addition to the apathy and complacency which is all to common among Washington D.C. bureaucracies, this national entity was fiscally mismanaged and is now riddled with scandal.”

For Henderson, this is a tragedy.

“The local chapters did all the work of the Red Cross,” he says. “Their fiscal management and local and national responses maintained the American Red Cross’ reputation. Their efforts are what repaired the reputation of the national organization for many years.”

However, then the irreparable occurred.

“The national organization partnered with the federal government, who managed a hostile takeover of the American Red Cross,” Dr. Henderson reveals. “They then became a controlling organization, assumed command, and now direct the local chapters and all aspects of the American Red Cross.”

Henderson relates that, until that takeover, the American Red Cross was funded almost entirely by donations from the public, and controlled by the communities they served. After the take over, the national organization began to bill the federal government for disaster response activities, as well as Service to Armed Forces activities.

“I feared this reorganization of the Red Cross into a quasi-federal governmental entity would have a negative affect on the organization,” he says. “Shortly after this take over, I was relieved of my position and employment with the American Red Cross of Northern Utah. As heartbreaking as this was, it is nothing compared to my disappointment in seeing my greatest fears realized.”

Despite so much disappointment, Henderson expresses a heartfelt love for the organization’s roots, and its local volunteers, who he is ardent have an authentic love for their communities and a passion for serving others selflessly.

“Unfortunately, the American Red Cross is now functioning much like our federal government,” Henderson continues. “There is little to no accountability. There is employee apathy and pitiful customer service. Worst of all is the horrible performance and service to those whom they should serve. I no longer have a ‘dog in this hunt,’ as they say. I felt I should present my opinion and the information I have about this formerly proud respectable agency. I no longer contribute to the American Red Cross, which breaks my heart. I can no longer recommend others to contribute either. I am a bit insulted that the National American Red Cross still pushes for local donations, while receiving funding from the federal government. That appears greedy and wrong. I do not believe they will manage these locally donated funds any better than they do the funds which they receive from the federal government, or any better than they do their disaster responses.”

Just as The Red Cross has left disappointed and hurt people in its wake following Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Henderson expresses his own disappointment and sorrow that the organization whose spirit he loves has grown so disorganized and poorly managed.

“I regret dishing the dirt on an organization that I love, and I still believe in the original charter and mission,” he says. “I regret this because of my loyalty to its past and to the local volunteers who consistently provide outstanding services. They exhibit compassion in our home area during even the most common disasters Americans face; home fires, local sheltering for local larger disasters, and rehab services for firefighters and police on long deployed incidents.”

His admiration for local volunteers and workers never wavering, he signs his letter:

“With all honesty and deep sorrow,

Frederick Henderson”

Feature Photo: Houston City Council Member Dave Martin alleges that The American Red Cross put up Hurricane Harvey Relief workers at the St. Regis Hotel, a Five Star luxury hotel in Houston. As of September 10, 2017, the cheapest room at the hotel runs at $309 per night.

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4 thoughts on “Former Red Cross Director Calls Organization ‘Top Heavy Bureaucracy’

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  1. Re: your Feature Photo & Houston City Council Member Dave Martin… It has been clarified that Red Cross is using the St. Regis largely due to availability. They’re bunking 2-3 to a room and they’re getting a steep discount @ $179/night.
    Dr. Henderson alleges the Red Cross receives Govt. funding… Where is his proof? Red Cross tax returns are public record. What is his proof behind this allegation?

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