Area Red Cross CEO steps down

Res­ig­na­tion comes after crit­i­cism for re­sponse to Har­vey

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By John D. Harden john.harden@chron.com twit­ter.com/jd­harden

Amid scru­tiny of its abil­ity to dis­pense emer­gency ser­vices and do­na­tions after Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, the Amer­i­can Red Cross an­nounced Satur­day evening that its Texas Gulf Coast CEO has re­signed.

David Brady’s six-month ten­ure has come to an end just two months after South­east Texas weath­ered one of its most de­struc­tive storms. How­ever, many Gulf Coast res­i­dents are still re­build­ing and re­ly­ing on the Red Cross to de­liver emer­gency re­lief.

The Red Cross did not dis­close rea­sons for Brady’s de­par­ture, but Brady took to so­cial me­dia to fill in the gaps.

“I found my­self in dis­agree­ment too of­ten with de­ci­sions that were be­ing made as it re­lated to Hur­ri­cane Har­vey re­cov­ery,” he wrote. “It is not fair to the or­ga­ni­za­tion to have a leader in this role that is filled with that much doubt. And it was not fair to me or my fam­ily to work where I am not happy and do not feel val­ued.”

Sev­eral other lead­ers in the non­profit have also stepped down re­cently, in­clud­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer.

In a state­ment is­sued late Satur­day, the Red Cross said it’s grate­ful for Brady’s con­tri­bu­tions and that the es­sen­tial work of sup­port­ing fam­i­lies af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey will con­tinue just as be­fore.

The char­ity said it will con­tinue to focus on sup­port­ing long-term re­cov­ery ef­forts as the emer­gency phase of our work in Texas ends.

“The Red Cross has been on the ground in Texas since be­fore Hur­ri­cane Har­vey struck, and we will be there in the months to come, help­ing those af­fected to re­cover, and help­ing res­i­dents to build more re­silient com­mu­ni­ties for the fu­ture,” ac­cord­ing to the char­ity.

Marty McKel­lips, a vet­eran Red Cross ex­ec­u­tive cur­rently head­ing the Cen­tral and South Texas Re­gion, has been named in­terim ex­ec­u­tive to di­rect the re­gion’s work, ac­cord­ing to spokes­woman Ek­land Durousseau. Chal­lenges of Har­vey

Brady took over as CEO in April, lead­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery, fundrais­ing and stake­holder en­gage­ment for the non­profit known for pro­vid­ing shel­ters and feed­ing vic­tims after dis­as­ters.

Prior to join­ing the Red Cross, he worked and the Hous­ton Zoo. Be­fore that he was man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for Lone Star Sports and En­ter­tain­ment, an af­fil­i­ate of the Hous­ton Tex­ans. There he man­aged high-pro­file events and worked as the sta­dium an­nouncer for the Tex­ans.

But Brady’s big­gest chal­lenge came in late Au­gust. The Hur­ri­cane Har­vey Im­me­di­ate As­sis­tance Pro­gram is the Red

“It is not fair to the or­ga­ni­za­tion to have a leader in this role that is filled with that much doubt.” David Brady, for­mer Texas Gulf Coast Red Cross CEO

Cross’s costli­est Har­vey-re­lated re­cov­ery ef­fort, ac­cord­ing to a bud­get break­down pro­vided by the char­ity.

As of mid-Oc­to­ber, the Red Cross said it au­tho­rized pay­ment of more than $190 mil­lion to more than 477,000 house­holds — or about 54 per­cent of the $350 mil­lion it has raised for Har­vey re­lief.

In Au­gust, the storm surge from Har­vey brought dra­mat­i­cally in­creased wa­ter and tide lev­els over the Texas Coast. In­stead of mov­ing in­land and far­ther away from the coast, Har­vey stalled over South and South­east Texas for days, pro­duc­ing cat­a­strophic dev­as­tat­ing and deadly flash and river flood­ing.

South­east Texas beared the brunt of the rain­fall, with many ar­eas re­ceiv­ing more than 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Weather Ser­vice data.

The Red Cross ap­proved mil­lions in emer­gency fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to thou­sands who needed im­me­di­ate help, but the un­prece­dented de­mand chal­lenged the Red Cross’ IT in­fras­truc­ture and caused of­fi­cials tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended ser­vice.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion pur­chased more band­width to avoid fu­ture crashes, but that was only one of many con­tro­ver­sies to plague the Red Cross.

The non­profit faced crit­i­cism for de­lays in de­liv­er­ing sup­plies to Hous­ton area shel­ters, leav­ing one with only 200 cots for more than 2,000 peo­ple.

And a Red Cross pro­gram de­signed to give $400 in cash to house­holds most af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey faced crit­i­cism for re­ject­ing ap­pli­cants who fit the char­ity’s posted cri­te­ria.

Even prom­i­nent lo­cal lead­ers weighed in on the Red Cross’ mis­steps. Har­ris County Judge Ed Em­mett said he had asked a lo­cal non­profit to set up a shel­ter at NRG Park be­cause he did not have con­fi­dence the Red Cross would have the “where­withal to do it.” ‘In­ept, un­or­ga­nized’

Then in early Septem­ber, Hous­ton City Coun­cil­man Dave Martin ap­pealed to the pub­lic dur­ing a coun­cil meet­ing. “I beg you not to send them a penny,” he said. “They are the most in­ept, un­or­ga­nized or­ga­ni­za­tion I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced.”

But de­spite the crit­i­cism, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said it will con­tinue to work along­side com­mu­nity, gov­ern­ment, and lo­cal part­ners to pro­vide re­cov­ery sup­port.

And Brady still has praise for the Red Cross, not­ing that it con­tin­ues to do amaz­ing work and has distributed more than $200 mil­lion in aid.

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