Meet the Board: Sivani Babu 

By Dan Santos, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer 

“Yes,” admits Sivani Babu, the newest board member for the American Red Cross Pacific Coast Chapter, sometimes people have used the term “renaissance woman” to describe her. 

“I’ve been fortunate to do a number of things that I love,” she says.  

Babu had three majors in college: economics, public policy studies, and political science. She also has a Juris Doctor degree and is a former federal public defender. She’s still a lawyer and teaches storytelling as a tool for justice and advocacy to law students around the country.  

“The two throughlines in my professional life have been service and storytelling, whether as a teacher, an attorney, a journalist, or an entrepreneur,” Babu says. “I’m thrilled to be able to continue braiding those threads together to support the vital work of the Red Cross.” 

Since 2017, Babu has been busy as the co-founder and co-CEO of Hidden Compass, a website devoted to modern exploration and travel and storytelling.

Hidden Compass, she said, was founded to serve “frustrated journalists, people who want to find new ways to tell a story.” The website describes its content and appeal as “the antidote to clickbait.” 

Babu says she was motivated to volunteer for the Red Cross when wildfires threatened her Santa Barbara neighborhood a few years ago. “That reminded me of the important role the Red Cross has in helping unfortunate people.” Since then, Babu has been a public affairs volunteer with the Red Cross. 

She hopes to expand upon that work as a member of the Red Cross board.  

“Storytelling is a fundamental experience I can bring,” she said. “I also can put to use my outside skills as a lawyer, businesswoman and teacher—and synthesize all of my experience—as a board member.” 

“I’m really excited to join the board. It’s a mixed group with a lot of experiences and backgrounds,” Babu says. 

“We are so lucky that Sivani is joining the board,” says Tony Briggs, CEO of the Red Cross Central California Region. 

“She’s a humanitarian in the truest sense of the word,” Briggs says. “I am excited to see all the great things she’ll help our board and our chapter achieve as she moves into a new phase of volunteering with the Red Cross.” 

Babu, who has a fascination with stargazing nurtured by her father, is an advocate for dark skies—concentrating on the physical, social and emotional harm caused by artificial light. She is writing a book about it. 

Babu, 39, grew up in Orcutt, CA, the daughter of immigrants from India. Her father, a retired nephrologist at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, ran the dialysis unit there and later became the owner. Her mother, besides raising three children, was a “talented artist,” Babu says. Her older brother is a college professor, and her older sister is a lawyer. 

Aaron Martinez, who lost his home and all of his belongings in the Oak Fire embraces a shelter worker in Mariposa, CA. Photograph by Sivani Babu.

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