Celebrating Women’s History Month in Central California

Stories collected by Abby Oldemeyer and Jazmyn Vega, Red Cross Communications Volunteers

As we round out the last day of Red Cross Month and Women’s History Month, we reflect on the selfless drive of our founder, Clara Barton. Clara is one of the most honored women in American history – Guided by an intense devotion to helping others, she forged a bold path of service to help those in need. As founder of the American Red Cross, Clara is considered a visionary whose humanitarian spirit helped change the world. Meet a few Red Cross women who carry on that spirit in Central California.

Diana Manzo-Prado

Diana, pictured left with her volunteers Serena and Marie

Diana Manzo-Prado is one of our newest team members at the American Red Cross of Central California. Seven months ago, she joined as the Business Operations Coordinator to oversee our Central Valley and Kern & Eastern Sierra Chapter locations. In this role, she serves as the office manager and assists with various projects that include facilities, safety and fleet.

There are a few women that inspire Diana, which made it difficult to limit that to a few. One that stood out to her, however, was her mom. She finds her mother amazing and has continued to learn a lot from her, along with other amazing women that surround her including her friends, family and former and current managers. 

Her favorite Red Cross moment was being able to attend the Fresno Veterans Day Parade last November. It was her first Red Cross event that she was able to attend in-person, and was amazed at how it turned out. It was great for her to see how involved the Red Cross is with the military community. She was initially only able to see behind the scenes, so being out there with volunteers and staff connected her directly to the mission and inspire her.

Veronique Royer

Veronique Royer is our Senior Volunteer Engagement Specialist, whose role is to welcome volunteers, oversee their initial onboarding and help connect them to their volunteer role. She also helps manage our youth programs that introduce them to the Red Cross mission.

Veronique first joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2005, and would go on to become an employee in 2009. She was first inspired to volunteer with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.

When asked what women inspire her, one that instantly comes to mind is Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, which was a Roman Catholic congregation of women who were dedicated to helping the poor. Veronique is inspired by her because Mother Teresa helped those who needed her help. To her, it did not matter which country or region they were from. She was there when needed and that is something that deeply inspires Veronique. 

Her favorite Red Cross mission moment is, like Mother Teresa, helping people. She also enjoys making sure that volunteers and staff are well trained and recognized in a way that makes them feel appreciated.

Dana Regier

Dana Regier serves as the Regional Chief Operating Officer for both Central California AND American Red Cross Gold Country Region which represents 34 counties across the state. 

Dana joined the Red Cross two weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 after a 20-year career in retail management, and has been an incredible Red Cross leader for 17 years. From then to now, she supports Red Crossers as they deliver the mission to those impacted by a disaster or in need of life-saving blood.

In her spare time, she holds a state-level office as a volunteer leader for California Rainbow Girls, an organization that promotes leadership development through community service. She has served as a mentor – guiding young women who are the next generation of leaders – for many years. 

Siana-Lea Gildard

Siana has more than 20 years of experience with non-profit work, with a focus on civil rights and social justice causes. This background in non-profit work has been invaluable in her work with the Red Cross.

She first began her Red Cross journey in 2016 as the Director of Foundations with Red Cross LA. After her first three years, Siana-Lea joined our team as the Central California Region’s Chief Development Officer. In this role, she leads a team of three fundraisers that help fund our mission, recognizes our donors and manages fundraising goals.

Anne Kratz

Anne has built her career working in the non-profit sector. She first became involved with the Red Cross through our water safety programs. Throughout high school and college, she used her training to work as a lifeguard and swim instructor and was involved with a Red Cross program that taught water safety courses to adults with disabilities.

Later on, she joined the board of Santa Barbara County Red Cross and eventually served as Board Chair. She has previously held paid-staff positions including Director of Community Relations and currently serves as one of our Regional Philanthropy Officers.

Vicky Ballmes

Vicky Ballmes first got connected with the Red Cross at only 13 years old, when she and her mother helped to raise more than $42,000 for a program that was designed to remove landmines from a schoolyard in Sarajevo. Since then, she has continued to be a dedicated American Red Cross team member.

In addition to helping create the Santa Cruz County American Red Cross Youth Committee, she has worked in disaster services since 2007. Currently, she serves as the Regional Direct Services Manager, where she oversees activities where the American Red Cross Volunteers work directly with clients.

Taylor Poisall

Taylor Poisall credits a lucky Google search for leading her to the Red Cross. She first joined the Red Cross as a Fund Development Events Intern in late 2015 and has since worked in Operations, Volunteer Services and now Communications as our Communications Director. Her favorite parts of working at the Red Cross are supporting volunteers, connecting our organization with community members and finding creative ways to share our stories.

She’s deployed to about a dozen California wildfires and most recently served as Public Affairs Manager supporting the Kentucky Tornado Relief operation over the holidays.

She credits our Red Cross volunteers as her constant source of inspiration. She loves to help guide young Red Crossers as a way to give back to those that mentored her early in her Red Cross career.

“The Red Cross is a part of us — it has come to stay — and like the sturdy oak, its spreading branches shall yet encompass and shelter the relief of the nation.”

Clara Barton

Thank you to the Red Crossers in our Region and beyond for your dedicated service and commitment to the Red Cross and its mission! Please click here if you would like to be a part of our mission by supporting the Red Cross.

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