2/8/2016 10:16:17 PM

Siena Success: Jerry DeFrancisco '68

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Red Cross is a small symbol with large significance across the globe. “The Red Cross is the second most recognizable symbol in the world after Coca-Cola," said Red Cross President of Humanitarian Services Jerry DeFrancisco ’68.

DeFrancisco has traveled the world working to deliver the organization’s mission of helping people in their time of need. He now oversees more than 1,500 local Red Cross locations across the country and around the world. “Everywhere I’ve been, we’ve been welcome with open arms because that symbol, that Red Cross symbol means so much to people. And when they see it, right away they know these are people that are here to help," DeFrancisco said.

Since joining the Red Cross nearly five years ago, DeFrancisco has been charged with mobilizing some 32,000 people during crises, including large-scale natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy. “The scope of the disaster was far beyond anything we’ve dealt with, certainly over the last five years. So it was rewarding, but challenging at the same time because we had to modify our procedures to deal with a densely urban population," DeFrancisco said.

He has met with everyone from Siena College students to world leaders, including President Barack Obama. DeFrancisco said the most rewarding part of his job is working with the people within his organization. “The people at the Red Cross are incredibly dedicated to the mission and humanitarian causes. They’re here because they want to help people," DeFrancisco said. “It’s a great job. It’s kind of like my third career and I’m really enjoying it.”

Before joining the Red Cross in 2008, the United States Army veteran was president of two global consulting firms and prior to that DeFrancisco had a distinguished 29-year career at AT&T where he was a senior executive. He also found time to teach at the college level. DeFrancisco said overseeing the various humanitarian services offered by the Red Cross is not all that different from working in the for-profit world. “You’re mobilizing people and resources to deliver a mission. In the case of the Red Cross, it’s a very precious and historic mission in serving the American people in a time of need," DeFrancisco said.

Siena College honored DeFrancisco with the Professor Joseph A. Buff Award for alumni with outstanding accomplishments or achievements in their careers. The former history and political science major said the liberal arts education he received at Siena laid the groundwork for his future success because it taught him how to work with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives. “The liberal arts education and Siena specifically prepares you for that, helps you to learn, helps you to listen and appreciate what people have to offer," DeFrancisco said.

Fr. Peter Fiore, O.F.M. and Fr. John Van Hook, O.F.M. were particularly influential in DeFrancisco’s development as a student and he said the College’s Franciscan values and sense of community have stuck with him throughout his life. He remains close with the group of friends he made at Siena 45 years ago. He also learned that, regardless of what’s happening on the job, family comes first. “I think the other thing Siena gives you, because of the community feeling, is a tremendous sense of family. My family has always been extremely supportive," DeFrancisco said.

While the Red Cross is a universal sign for hope in a time of need, the man responsible for delivering its mission, Jerry DeFrancisco, is the perfect representation of how a Siena College education can lead to career success and life-changing results.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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