Mary Jane Thomsen brings excitement, ownership to new Red Cross leadership role in NW Wisconsin

By Justin Kern, American Red Cross

Last week, Mary Jane “MJ” Thomsen began her new role as Executive Director for the Northwest Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross. But Thomsen is no stranger to the Red Cross, nor the Midwest.

Thomsen has been Executive Director for the Red Cross’ Greater St. Louis Chapter since April 2018, and she spent the prior nine years leading blood collection efforts for the Red Cross in Missouri and Illinois. Success in those roles meant collaboration with Air Force bases and NHL teams, as well as United Ways and Red Cross Community Volunteer Leaders. Her career began after a triple-major B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, and immersed herself in professional and community affiliations such as Rotary Clubs in St. Louis and Duluth, Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals, and English Springer Rescue America.

As Thomsen settles into this new role, she shared a few key thoughts on her background and the people she “can’t wait to get to know” in her new environs. 

What are you looking forward to most at the start of your time as a leader with the Red Cross in northwest Wisconsin?

Thomsen: “I am very excited to meet the volunteers in the Northwest Wisconsin Chapter. From board members and community volunteer leaders, to all those who work to respond to disaster, support our military members and veterans and coordinate blood drives, I can’t wait to get to know them and the community we serve.”

“Coming out of COVID – and into a new community – I am really looking forward to meeting local Red Crossers in person and spending time learning more about what makes our Chapter unique in the Wisconsin Region.”

What are one or two things you’ve been most proud of with your work so far at the Red Cross?

Thomsen: “In St. Louis, as District Manager of donor recruitment, we were responsible for collecting over 70,000 units of blood annually in our Chapter. Being able to get to know our sponsors and their organizations was a pleasure, and the working relationships and friendships our team created helped us to develop blood programs which were considered signature partnerships for Red Cross.”

“Also in St. Louis, as Executive Director, I was a part of one of the first three regions in the country to begin the One Red Cross Community Engagement Initiative (Beta) models. In this initiative, Humanitarian and Biomedical Services worked closely together to ensure partner relationships were aligned to optimize blood collections and development opportunities.”

Why do you feel the mission of the American Red Cross continues to resonate so strongly in our communities?

“The Red Cross mission is to alleviate human suffering by mobilizing the generosity of volunteers, and our entire workforce is 90% volunteer led. Because we are made up of individuals who are committed to ensuring that our mission and service delivery occur down the street and across the country, each community has a very real ownership of supporting those in the most critical need – when that support is needed most.”

For more on the Northwest Chapter, including Board Directors, click here.

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