Nice to Meet You: Brooke Mehaffey
Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Brooke Mehaffey is Chief Operating Officer for our Nebraska-Iowa Red Cross region. Her team works behind the scenes to ensure that everything from our facilities to our Red Cross vehicles runs smoothly and can be ready at a moment's notice.
Q: What does your title mean?
A: As Chief Operating Officer, I am responsible for all regional administrative functions. My team is responsible for the safe upkeep and operations of all regional fleets and the maintenance of all regional facilities. I also am the regional liaison with finance, HR, IT, Real Estate, Risk Management, and OGC.
Q: How long have you been with the Red Cross?
A: 13 ½ years.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I have held several positions at the Red Cross and have appreciated each role. My heart always comes back to the mission and the impact that Red Crossers make daily in the world. In my current position, I love that my team can support the “One Red Cross” mission by working with both humanitarian services and biomedical services.
Q: What do you listen to during the workday?
A: Other Red Crossers – it is normal for my day to be filled with back-to-back meetings and calls. When I’m not interacting with others, I usually enjoy the quiet while trying to focus on work projects.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?
A: I like to hike, walk, and do anything in the outdoors when weather permits. I enjoy reading and cuddling with my cats when the weather is uncooperative. I also like to travel especially to see my family! But my most favorite time is the time spent with my sons when they are home.
Q: What is your favorite thing about where you live?
A: I love the seasons. I grew up in Western Iowa and now live in Eastern Iowa. I went to college at Auburn University and ended up living in various parts of the South for over 16 years – I really missed the four distinct seasons while living there and that has made me appreciate each change even more. And, yes, that includes the SNOW!!
Q: What has most surprised you while working with the Red Cross?
A: I am always amazed by our volunteers their selfless dedication. It is humbling to be able to work with and learn from so many passionate committed people. Individuals I have met over my years with the Red Cross are truly the best of the best.
Q: What is a Red Cross moment that has stuck with you?
A: There are many but one, in particular, is the reason I do what I do. The flood of 2008 was just ramping up when I started working for the Red Cross in the spring of 2008 as the Director for Muscatine and Louisa Counties in Iowa. My first month on the job was a whirlwind of learning. My first meeting with the volunteers for our area was on day three when they were coming back from the Parkersburg tornado (which was emotional and devastating) and moving right into this 100-year flood situation, which was literally splitting our two counties apart along with most of the rest of Eastern Iowa. Watching these local volunteers in action as we had additional volunteers arriving from all over the United States was amazing and overwhelming. Fast forward to July 4th – these same volunteers wanted to walk in the Muscatine Fourth of July parade. To be honest, I was very tired and not at all excited about doing this but felt obligated so grudgingly showed up. I rode in the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) behind the group of volunteers with their grandkids who were in charge of the candy. When we took the first turn onto the parade route, the parade-goers on both sides of the road stood in a standing ovation and this continued for the FULL parade route. I sat next to an amazing volunteer as he drove the ERV with tears coming down his cheeks for the next hour and will never forget the emotion I had as I watched the crowd perform this surreal “wave” of standing ovation all the way to the last bystander. I am very grateful to be part of an organization that can make such a difference in the lives of our communities and will be forever grateful and in awe of the staff and volunteers saving lives daily on the frontlines. And, from that moment forward, I have never felt “obligated” to do something in my “job” again – it was a good lesson for me about what our organization means to people.
Q: What do you wish people knew about working at the Red Cross?
A: It is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had but it is also the most satisfying.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about you and/or working for the Red Cross?
A: There is a lot of change in the Red Cross, and we always seem to be moving at warp speed. When the change or workload gets overwhelming, I just want to remind everyone to take a deep breath and think about the mission and why we do what we do. Even in the toughest of internal days, we are making a true difference to a non-Red Crosser's world. My position is mostly internal-facing, but I have the opportunity to support those of you who live the mission daily through disaster relief, blood collection, service to the armed forces, and even training services. My team and I are here to support you, so please reach out!