The Gainesville-based chapter announced Tuesday that Hall County native Philip Reed had taken the position. On Wednesday, Reed was already down in Atlanta meeting with other disaster preparedness officials, as storms Hanna, Ike and Josephine approached the southeastern United States.
The Red Cross still is busy assisting with the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav earlier this week.
"Talk about a baptism by fire!" said David Mancuso, board chairman of the Northeast Georgia chapter.
But he said he’s confident Reed, who currently lives in Dahlonega, is up to the challenge.
"We’re delighted to have him," Mancuso said. "We needed someone who could basically serve as a CEO and someone who could be a liaison between the public and our organization."
Reed acquired those skills during his 30-year career with BellSouth, where he worked in various positions in customer service, project management, community relations, fundraising, media affairs, corporate sponsorships and other areas.
"We needed someone who could wear a variety of hats," Mancuso said.
He said the selection committee considered about 30 candidates before whittling the field down to seven or eight. "(Reed) was the cream of the crop," he said.
Reed, a Georgia State University graduate who has been active in many civic and governmental organizations, will replace Carol Rittenhouse, who has served as interim director since the retirement of Jim Martin two months ago.
The Northeast Georgia chapter serves about 675,000 people in 13 counties. Mancuso said the chapter gets about 20 percent of its funding from the United Way of Hall County, but has to raise the rest of the annual budget on its own. "We don’t get money from the national Red Cross," he said.
Jackie Wallace, president of the United Way of Hall County, served on the search committee for the new director and said she was very impressed with Reed.
"I believe he will be a great asset for Red Cross, United Way and our community," she said.