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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Engaging Black and Marginalized Communities - Abena's Reasons for Serving

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Meet Abena Imhotep. She is a strong advocate, student and a Central Iowa Red Cross board member. Her knowledge and work make our region stronger, and we are fortunate to have her as an active board member.

Q: What interested you in becoming a Red Cross Central Iowa Chapter board member?

A: I wanted to serve my community in a greater capacity by working with an organization that had demonstrated its commitment to engaging Black and marginalized communities in meaningful ways through its service delivery and at every level of the organization. The American Red Cross is doing just that.

Q: And how long have you served on the board?

A: I've served as a chapter board member for two years. I also serve on diversity, equity and inclusion committees.

Q: What company or organization do you represent on the board and what does that representation mean to you?

A: I'm the director of Sankofa Literary & Empowerment Group, a firm whose purpose is to create equitable spaces for lifelong learning. This means that not only do I represent Central Iowa's community of marginalized people and can help spread awareness about disaster prevention & preparedness, but it also means an opportunity to galvanize African Americans and people of color around volunteerism at times when our friends and neighbors need us most, whether it be donating blood, responding to a house fire, or providing comfort to veterans. Q: How do you spend your free time?

A. Free time - what's that? When I'm not working or volunteering, I'm at Drake University where I'm an International Relations undergrad, coordinating an after-school literacy academy in partnership with Des Moines Public Schools or enjoying my family.

Q. What is a Red Cross moment that has stuck with you? Or, what does being a Red Cross board member mean to you?

A. One of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences was being involved in the Red Cross's community-based alliances and statewide collaborations to make sure that all Iowans had access to information around mitigation measures after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in early 2020. From that work, I'll always be reminded of the adage, "...if you want to go far, go together." Q. How would you encourage friends and family to get involved with the American Red Cross?

A. To make a difference, do something different. The gift of your time, the gift of a blood donation, or a financial gift is often all it takes to be Red Cross strong.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit

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