Since 2008, Gail J. McGovern has served as president and CEO of the American Red Cross, the nation’s leading emergency response and blood services organization. Her transformational initiatives have led to improved financial stability and have expanded the reach of lifesaving Red Cross services. McGovern has initiated extensive modernization projects at the Red Cross, including an overhaul of IT systems and the growth of social media presence and mobile technologies that put lifesaving skills at people’s fingertips during emergencies.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, she loved learning and worked hard, holding a job since the age of 14 as a cashier. Her parents stressed the importance of giving back to the community, and McGovern served as an active volunteer with hospitals, scouting, and tutoring underprivileged students. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Columbia University, and has since been recognized as alumna of the year from both universities.
Prior to joining the Red Cross, McGovern was a faculty member at the Harvard Business School and served as president of Fidelity Personal Investments, a unit of Fidelity Investments. She was also executive vice president at AT&T for the Consumer Markets Division, the company’s largest business unit, and was responsible for its $26 billion residential long-distance service.
During her tenure at the American Red Cross, McGovern has overseen their response to international and domestic disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, as well as countless tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, home fires and other local disasters that affect our country each year.
In March of 2011, she was appointed as one of 10 members on the President’s Management Advisory Board and serves as the only nonprofit leader on this White House panel.
A two-time breast cancer survivor, she believes that our life experiences are all connected. “I’m thankful that the lessons I learned as a young girl from two hard-working and proud parents have served me so well.”
McGovern is currently a member of the board of trustees for Johns Hopkins Medicine. She also serves on the board of directors of DTE Energy, PayPal, and The Weather Channel. McGovern was recognized by Fortune in 2000 and 2001 as one of the top 50 most powerful women in corporate America.