(Re)introducing: Kyle Kriegl, Executive Director, Southwest Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross

By Justin Kern, American Red Cross

After more than 20 years in various leadership and service roles at the American Red Cross, Kyle Kriegl is coming back to where it all started.

Kyle Kriegl has been named the new Executive Director for the Southwest Wisconsin Chapter of the Red Cross.

His Red Cross career started in 1997 as a health and safety director in Monroe and Juneau counties. After a stint in disaster and Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) in Portage County, he came to Madison to serve for years in emergency services and again in health and safety. During the 2000s, he also served as an interim executive in Racine and Janesville, as well as a national role to enhance chapter fundraising and service goals.

In 2008, he became the Chapter Executive in what is now the Northwest Wisconsin Chapter, the leadership role he’s held for the past 12 years.

Kyle Kriegl kicks off the 2020 Heroes Breakfast event in Eau Claire in March.

“I always wanted to come back to Madison if I had the chance. The years in Eau Claire [at the Northwest Wisconsin Chapter office] have helped me gain more executive experience – more experience in Training Services, International [Services] and SAF, Disaster Cycle Services, Biomedical Services. I have a good feel for all our lines of service,” Kriegl said. “I want to go and do great things in Madison.”

Over his career, he considers himself “lucky” to have worked with so many volunteers from the Wisconsin Region, including some from the Southwest Chapter like Sheila Sims and Dan Prevenas. And he said he’s stepping into this new role knowing that there are passionate, steady supporters and board directors, as well as a slew of successful blood drives like the annual “Beach Days” summer donation events in Madison.

Among his varied roles, Kyle shared a few of the Red Cross career highlights so far:

  • Reconnecting members of a Stevens Point family separated by strife in Cambodia, through his community partnerships and just before Christmas
  • Establishing a regional lifeguarding competition in Wisconsin Dells to encourage swim safety
  • Working with disaster teams to provide resources to families devastated by separate tornadoes in Chetek and Oakfield
  • Deploying to help people after Hurricane Katrina and 2003 flooding in Pennsylvania
  • Bolstering events like the annual Northwest Chapter Heroes Breakfast

Along with the career trajectory toward Madison, Kyle and his wife, Kristin, have family in Madison and love University of Wisconsin athletics – especially men’s basketball – and have nabbed pictures of every statue in the “Bucky on Parade” collection.

Kriegl, center, and Maggie Fischer, in volunteer services (at left), give items to volunteers at a 2018 appreciation event in Eau Claire.

Tom Mooney has been serving more than 12 years as Executive Director in the Southwest Chapter, in a dual role as Regional Chief Operating Officer (COO). The organizational shift to separate those roles enables Tom to solely focus as COO. 

Mark Thomas, Wisconsin Region Chief Executive Officer, said: “Tom has been a true community leader in every sense for the city and region he loves so much. We’re indebted to his years at the helm in the Madison area and look forward to the unique leadership he’ll continue to provide as COO.”

“In Kyle Kriegl, we have an experienced Red Cross leader with the drive to lead our mission in Madison, La Crosse, Beloit, Janesville, Tomah and throughout southwestern Wisconsin,” Thomas added.

Kyle’s first official day in the new Executive Director role is Monday, Nov. 30. For information on the opportunity to lead our Northwest Wisconsin Chapter, visit the Red Cross careers page.

American Red Cross seeks your community hero nominations for 2021 Brave Hearts honors

MILWAUKEE, Wisc., Nov. 24, 2020 – Do you know a hero living in our community? Someone who has saved a life or whose actions inspire others? Someone who makes southeastern Wisconsin a better place every day?

The Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross is now accepting nominations of inspiring local people for consideration at our 2021 Brave Hearts community heroes event. We’re looking for your nominations of people who have performed or continue to perform heroic acts in 2020 across a handful of categories.

Brave Hearts heroes are being accepted until Jan. 31 in the following categories:

George Koerner was selected as our most recent Military Hero for his passionate work with fellow veterans.
  • Community Safety, Security & Resiliency – use of knowledge, skills or research to provide aid to the life of another
  • Emergency Response – first responder exhibiting heroism on or off-duty, or in an ongoing and extraordinary effort toward community support
  • From the Heart – blood donor or blood drive supporter
  • Military – member of the Armed Forces exhibiting heroism in response to an emergency situation, on or off-duty
  • Youth – involved in a heroic act at 18-years old or younger

Nominees must live, work or the heroic act of courage or kindness must have occurred in one of the following counties: Dodge, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington or Waukesha. A specific heroic act must have occurred in the past year, from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020; an act of courage or kindness can be ongoing or have occurred at a particular time. From the nominees, a committee also selects a lifetime award for the Brave Hearts event.

Nominate a hero before Jan. 31 and find more details here: https://www.redcross.org/local/wisconsin/about-us/news-and-events/events/brave-hearts/brave-hearts-nomination.html

The annual Brave Hearts fundraising gala is slated to be a virtual event in May 2021.

Father and son volunteer duo deploy with same mindset: to help others

By Rachel Helgeson, American Red Cross

The bond between a father and a son is a strong one, both impacting the other for a lifetime.

But one bond between a Wisconsin father and son goes beyond the ties of family and extends to complete strangers in need of help.

Theodore “Ted” King II and his son Theodore “Theo” King III were deployed to New Orleans with the American Red Cross beginning October 19, coincidentally the day of Ted’s birthday. These selfless men spent two weeks of their evenings working a desk at a hotel, fielding questions from volunteers or clients affected by the hurricanes throughout the night.

Ted, left, and Theo King volunteer during the night shift at a hotel shelter in New Orleans, where people were displaced after a record hurricane season.

With Ted’s retirement and Theo’s furlough from his job as a field evaluator lining up and allowing free time, the father and son were able to deploy together at the same time. And they did so during an historic hurricane season along the Gulf Coast.

“It’s a good opportunity to spend time with dad,” Theo said humbly in a phone interview during the deployment. “More than ever right now people are hurting with the economy, pandemic, and hurricanes. I’ve worked in hospitality all my working life since 14; giving back is part of my identity.”

Although the father and son were in charge of providing help logistically, the two were also able to experience giving back to the community in a physical and immediate manner in downtown New Orleans.

“The most intrinsically-rewarding thing to happen was we had 50 extra dinners from last night and one of the bellmen escorted us to pass out meals to the homeless,” Theo explained.

Just a few weeks ago was Ted’s first time connecting with the Red Cross although he had already been friends with Mark Thomas, Wisconsin Red Cross CEO, and was aware of the organization’s impact. Theo has been a part of the organization since June.

Ted’s first volunteer experience was one he’ll never forget, he said. He had the opportunity to personally understand what the Red Cross is all about.

Helping people as part of fall 2020 sheltering operations, the Kings found matched newfound free-time with their drive to give back as volunteers.

“The Red Cross is much more complex than I expected,” Ted said. “Organizing, the personnel, I can’t imagine how much they must be working to manage or supervise a site or overseeing a particular area. I’m pleased to help people out as they need, it would take a lot of training to be able to do what some are doing.”

Ted added he plans on continuing to volunteer, but hopes to get a feel for daytime shifts and other duties.

“I like doing this,” Ted said. “Working with others who like helping others, having the same mission or mindset as far as helping the clients.”

To join disaster volunteers working together near and far, register here.

Air Force veteran gives back to the military as a Red Cross volunteer

By Andrea Azzo, American Red Cross

Wayne MacDonald’s life has been dedicated to serving others. It wasn’t long after he got out of the Air Force when the Wisconsin man decided to volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Now, nearly 34 years later, the Stevens Point man is nearing the end of his stint with the Red Cross. MacDonald is turning 72 years old on Nov. 26. His goal is to continue serving until he reaches the 35-year benchmark with the nonprofit organization.

“The Red Cross is so important with so many different things,” MacDonald said. “Supporting the military side is the biggest thing [for me].”

MacDonald’s volunteerism has been focused Service to the Armed Forces, the department at the Red Cross that helps service members, veterans and their families. He knows firsthand how difficult it can be to transition from the military to civilian life.

MacDonald served for 10 years in the Air Force and for 20 years in the Air Force Reserve. He has been stationed overseas in Turkey, England and Germany; plus in the U.S. at military bases in Alaska and Texas.

When he spent one and a half years in Turkey, MacDonald said he did not know what kind of assistance was available to him. Even today, he says other military families aren’t sure where to go if something happens.

That’s where his work with the Red Cross comes into play. MacDonald’s primary duty includes communicating with military families to make them aware of the support that exists. This includes notifying service members when a loved one back home falls seriously ill or dies.

The Red Cross’ work has evolved over time. When MacDonald began volunteering, letters informed service members. Now the Red Cross puts a service member in touch with military families. 

Most of the time, MacDonald says feedback is positive and communication is fast. Sometimes, families are surprised at how quickly they receive important news.

Other Service to the Armed Forces volunteer opportunities include canteening at veteran Honor Flight celebrations, like this one in May 2019 in Beloit.

The Red Cross of Wisconsin primarily helps service members and veterans within the state, but there have been instances in which other Red Cross chapters have needed Wisconsin’s help. MacDonald says he has helped the Red Cross in Florida when there was a hurricane. He has also covered Minnesota when there was a shortage of volunteers.

MacDonald primarily helps over the phone. (He has never met anyone he has helped face-to-face.)

“The main thing for me is to provide, whatever their need is,” MacDonald said. “Knowing they had a need, through the Red Cross, they got support. That’s the main thing.”

For more on the many ways the Red Cross supports veterans, service members and their families – and to join volunteers like Wayne – click here.