Randy Hutson named new Red Cross CEO
August 4, 2009
By Christopher Huber
Longtime Sammamish resident Randy Hutson will be the first to tell you he wasn’t always one to join a disaster relief or humanitarian effort. But he will also tell you that since joining the Red Cross — as a volunteer and eventually an employee — he has come to discover the difference one person can make in the world.
The American Red Cross serving King and Kitsap counties recently announced Hutson as its new chief executive officer. He will take over Sept. 1 for retiring CEO Dr. Larry Petry, according to a Red Cross press release.
“He served in many different leadership roles over the years. Randy’s a roll-the-sleeves-up, get-involved kind of leader,” said Son Michael Pham, a Red Cross board member and Sammamish resident. “I have a high comfort level knowing the chapter is going to be led by somebody of his quality.”
The seed was planted back in college, Hutson said. The people of Nicaragua experienced a devastating earthquake and a friend of his volunteered to fly down and help with the relief efforts.
The thought to just pick up and go never occurred to Hutson personally, he said, but his friend’s sense of urgency and willingness to help made him think.
“That kind of left a lasting impression on me,” Hutson said. “Just realizing that one individual really can make a difference, and acting on that, I thought, was an act of selflessness that haunted me for long time. At some point that began to change.”
That experience as a young adult stuck with him through the years and he eventually began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2000.
And again, he was struck by people’s willingness to drop everything and help others, he said. In 2002 Hutson learned about a job opening with the non-profit organization and decided, “the time was right for me to go and help in that capacity.”
As he takes the helm of an ever-growing organization, Hutson said he hopes to lead the Red Cross in improving emergency preparedness training in un-reached areas, which include communities with high immigrant populations and the Eastside.
He wants to form partnerships with each community’s nonprofit organizations to identify the needs in order to, “organize an effort to come into that community and do some community disaster training,” Hutson said.
Essentially, the Red Cross needs to reach out to poorer, more vulnerable communities before disasters strike, Hutson said. Training people ahead of time means less dependence on the organization in an emergency.
“We’ve been doing this for a number of years, but in the last four years, the number of people we do this with has gone up by a factor of 10,” he said.
Until four years ago, the Red Cross typically trained about 4,000 citizens per year in King and Kitsap counties. Currently, the organization trains about 40,000 per year.
Hutson brings years of experience in the for-profit business world to his new position. He’s been a senior manager for Microsoft, director of finance at SpaceLabs Healthcare, and chief financial officer at Zycad Corporation. As the Red Cross chief operating officer, Hutson led numerous initiatives to build community-based disaster relief supply centers and to develop free, non-certified First Aid and CPR training for individuals with limited time and resources, the press release said.
Hutson, who lives in the Summer Ridge neighborhood with his wife, Dana, and dog Scuppers (he has two grown daughters), hopes his residency in Sammamish helps to develop stronger relationships between the Red Cross and Eastside communities.
“I’m hoping that between the Bellevue, Redmond and Sammamish communities, we can help bring more of a presence of the Red Cross,” he said.
Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or email@example.com.