The Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Red Cross has welcomed new CEO Louise Kolbert, who boasts an impressive resume in the field of disaster response and said she is eager to apply that experience to her community. In a career dedicated to organizing aid in the direst of circumstances, Kolbert has seen it all: She was on the frontline during the Red Cross response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and she was the organization’s director of relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Her experience in her own community is also impressive. Kolbert acted as director of relief operations during the Jesusita Fire, which proved to be especially trying for the Santa Barbara Red Cross. Workers and volunteers executed their relief efforts in spite of the fact that the fire was nearing their doorsteps. “Jesusita was difficult simply because the fire was moving so quickly and we were forced to evacuate the [Red Cross Chapter] building,” Kolbert said. “We were able to move our chapter office elsewhere to the Goleta Community Center, where we could continue our efforts.”
Kolbert is not one to get intimidated, or lose her cool, in the face of urgency and complications. “Due to the fact that I’ve worked on the largest disaster operations that our organization has run in the last 30 years, I have this innate ability to remain calm in the face of a large disaster,” Kolbert said.
Even with her experience working on some of the most devastating disasters, she attributes much of her readiness predecessor Janet Stanley, whom Kolbert described as a dedicated CEO and a great mentor. “I thought that we were incredibly blessed to have the CEO that we had,” Kolbert said. “She was an incredible CEO, and I feel that she has prepared me to take this position.”