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Really bad timing: Pushing healy out is wrong. (General Ramblings).

Dr. Bernadine Healy, president and CEO of The American Red Cross, got it right in telling New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to take a hike when she didn't want to coordinate disbursements in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks.

Now, in the middle of all of the September 11 repercussions, she is leaving the ARC. Some say the hard-driving executive is being pushed out because of autocratic management, despite it being called a retirement.

While it's true the she's a tough boss underlined, and not well-liked by staff, colleagues, well, most people who have to deal with her, she leaves the organization in a better position than the mess she inherited.

Fortunately, the majority of her decisions were correct. Unfortunately, she didn't communicate those decisions in an effective manner. And, she crossed swords too many times with the board, making moves that the board would probably liked to have had advise and consent, such as the establishment of the Liberty Fund as a separate fundraising apparatus.

Another example of Healy's not being able to finesse a delicate situation occurred when Spitzer wanted to create a database of those who receive disbursements from the various disaster relief funds.

Spitzer said that his motives are pure of heart, wanting to stop fraud should anyone try to double dip or receive money to which they are not entitled.

Whatever the motive, no prosecutor should be given a list of recipients. Yes, the state has the right to oversee charities, but that doesn't mean invading the privacy of the grieving. And, whenever lists are compiled the originator says it for one purpose or other and that it won't be abused. Somehow, it just never works out that way.

Unfortunately, the ARC has now backed off and will cooperate with Spitzer.

It used to be said about foreign policy that a leader might be a dictator, but he's our dictator. Creating a lame duck manager until at least December 31 is not the way donors expected the hundreds of millions of dollars they've sent in to be managed.

This is being written as The NPT goes to press, before an interim chief executive is selected and a search for a new leader begins. The board should consider three little words when deliberating: Rudy. Rudy. Rudy.

Catching-up

I remember it like it was yesterday, although it was probably the late 1960s. Patty Duke, young, sultry, dressed in black, on a darkened set, illuminated by a faint light, told the television audience she was Muscular Dystrophy and dared us to stop her.

I was a little kid. She scared the bejesus out of me. I'm 42 now and the first few minutes of this year's MDA Telethon had the same chilling effect.

When National Chairman Jerry Lewis walked out on stage it was clear something was very wrong. He spoke eloquently, although hauntingly. This great man has battled various illnesses over the years but still got out there to raise money to defeat neuromuscular diseases. This year was no exception.

It's an open secret in the sector why he does it. The story, although never confirmed publicly by Lewis, is that a friend of his growing up died as a young man from a neuromuscular disease. What most don't realize is how engaged he is in every aspect of the organization. He just may be the most active board chair in the sector, even at age 75.

And, there's little argument that he just may be the fundraiser and advocate of the last millennium.

The organization is entrenched. It is respected. Jerry's done his time. The telethon will always be his. Hopefully the dream of defeating all neuromuscular diseases will be met before his final curtain call, which we pray is still decades away.
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Title Annotation:Bernadine Healy, presidenet of the American Red Cross
Author:Clolery, Paul
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:630
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