Dom Dopico transitions from hi-risk to hi-tech to hi-touch helping lead Red Cross Board
by Tom Horan, Red Cross Volunteer
Few people have experienced the diversity of careers as Serafin “Dom” Dopico, Board Member of the Central California Region.
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Dom enlisted in the United States Army and was deployed to a combat unit in Afghanistan for nine months where he served in both infantry and embedded intelligence roles. Upon returning to the United States, Dom was assigned to Fort Lewis, WA where he completed over ten years of distinguished service. While in Washington, he took advantage of the GI Bill and obtained an engineering degree from the University of Washington. Dom also spent 48 months at his “rock-bound, highland home” in Orange County, New York.
It was in Washington that Dom met his future wife Tiffany. After a long-distance relationship, including him being in Afghanistan, they married and will celebrate their nine-year wedding anniversary in August.
After leaving the Army, Dom made the jump to hi-tech where he was involved in some start-ups, before landing at Meta, formerly known as Facebook, where he is a User Experience Researcher. When asked to describe what that means, Dom replied, “I try to make computers and people better friends.” His wife Tiffany also works for Meta as a data engineer.
In 2020, Dom was invited to fill a vacancy on the Pacific Coast Chapter Board when then member Robert Rauchhaus was retiring from his board service. Robert knew Dom as a fellow church member and saw him as a great Board candidate. “I had not served on any previous Boards before this,” Dopico adds. When asked why he chose to serve with the Red Cross, Dom did not hesitate to share that he had multiple reasons.
His first experience with the Red Cross was while in the Army. “I had a soldier who probably should not have been in the service. He was making bad choices, leaving him in some difficult positions.” Dom reports that a staff member pointed him towards help from the Red Cross, and others, and he was able to connect the troubled soldier with resources to properly transition him out of the Army, culminating in a positive outcome.
The Red Cross plays a critical role in communicating emergency family matters, such as serious illness, death in the family or birth of a child. After confirming the emergency, the Red Cross will send a verified message to the military authorities who will then deliver the information to the armed forces member. Dom notes, “soldiers actually need a Red Cross message even for immediate family in order for their Command Team to issue Emergency Leave, even if they are already stateside,” adding that units will often have large chunks of “leave blackout periods” for unit-wide training events and the like, but especially if they are deployed.
“The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team helped my soldier, and others. I saw firsthand what a difference this made and how it helped me be a more effective leader.”
In his current role as a Board member, Dom serves as the Philanthropy Chair which entails seeking financial donations from corporations and institutions to support the mission of the Red Cross. “I try to be pragmatic in setting goals. I am such a supporter of the Red Cross that it makes it easy for me to share that with others and invite them to become are part of the amazing and life-changing work we do,” he adds. He recently put on a different kind of helmet as he helped raise funds through Ride for the Red – a cycling event that raises funds for local Service to the Armed Forces programs.
“With 90 cents of every dollar spent invested in providing care and comfort for people in need, I am always ready to share what a good steward the Red Cross is with donations. We try to get donated supplies whenever we can, so we don’t have to spend funds for items like water and food.” Dom says they are working to exceed their fundraising goals for this year. “And we want to really grow the Sound the Alarm program to teach people about fire safety and how it can save their lives and those of their loved ones. After being unable to do it for a while [due to COVID-19] we are now back. It works and saves so many lives.”
Dom is also excited about how the Red Cross not only serves communities of color, but embodies diversity. “We were founded by a woman, our Regional CEO, Tony Briggs, is Black, we have members of many nationalities and faiths, and here I am a Black man on the Board of Directors. We are making an impact in so many ways,” he comments. “I really think that the Red Cross is a great example of diversity in so many ways. I have only seen and experienced great things.”
But Dom’s passion for the work of the Red Cross really crescendos when he describes when it really got personal. “I will never forget the day my vest and pins arrived. I opened the package and I teared up. I was now part of the organization that I had seen do so many great things, I knew what those symbols meant” to others.