Leadership shifts at Red Cross chapter

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WALLA WALLA - The Blue Mountain chapter of the American Red Cross has made a change in leadership, officials said.

Terry Hackney, who led the agency for more than seven years, left the executive director position Dec. 30. The position changed from full time to half time in September.

Longtime Walla Walla resident and City Council member Jerry Cummins assumed the director's role in January. Cummins has a history of public service, community involvement and local leadership, noted Megan Snow, regional director of communications in Spokane.

"He is a member of Rotary and the Chamber, and has chaired the County March of Dimes and the local YMCA fundraising campaign," she said in a prepared statement. "Jerry is retired from the Walla Walla Public Schools where he served as a business education teacher, department head and in district administration. He also recently served for a year as the Service to the Armed Forces coordinator with the Red Cross for Walla Walla and Columbia Counties."

He's left the Blue Mountain chapter in good hands, Hackney said Friday. "Someone who can come in and take a look at what the Blue Mountain chapter needs with new eyes."

Cummins has a passion for ensuring that Walla Walla continues to have a local Red Cross office, even though "it's never going to look like it did 30 years ago," Hackney said.

His departure comes as the American Red Cross is undergoing a number of changes nationally as it struggles to slim down costs while maintaining its mission, Hackney said.

"I realized I'm an old dog and I don't know how many tricks you can teach an old dog."

Hackney has returned to his first career choice as a pastor, he said Friday. "For a long time I didn't really think I had something to say. But I found out I did."

Cummins has a "wealth" of knowledge about disaster preparation, said Chris Coates, board president for the Blue Mountain chapter. "He is the perfect person to step into that position."

Having a local presence and local volunteers in Walla Walla remains important to the Red Cross, she added. People in Walla Walla have remained steadfast in their giving to the chapter here. "We feel the support of the community."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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