California Gold Country Region volunteer Deborah Smith has deployed to disaster responses more than 33 times, both locally and nationally. Known for having fostered collaborative working relationships with local partners, community-based organizations and county agencies, she is widely recognized as a respected subject matter expert.
Deborah is always ready to lend a hand. During one of Northern California’s recent massive wildfires, she volunteered to assist and brought the expertise, knowledge and compassion needed to successfully support their efforts in all ways needed. During that time, she stepped in to assist Disaster Program Managers to take some of the weight off their shoulders.
Throughout her career, Deborah mostly worked in mental health, domestic violence and assessments.
She also worked part-time in a county government role and part-time for Service Employees International Union as a negotiator representing social workers.
“I was able to negotiate a comparable worth settlement bringing social workers – a female-dominated profession – into line with our male counterparts in county service after initiating a study on pay inequities and organizing protests. This afforded me, a then single mother, and others, the income needed to provide for my family with a living wage.”
When the Disaster Program Manager position in the Lake/Mondocino territory was vacant, Deborah stepped up to take on the role until a permanent hire was made. She supported the newly appointed DPM to become familiar with the territory, local partners, and issues specific to the territory.
“We’d be up a creek without her. She is incredible. Deborah goes above and beyond what is expected of her. Her strength and perseverance are second to none,” said one colleague.
Deborah brings compassion for service to the job in a way that supports both evacuees and volunteers alike. She is highly respected by fellow volunteers, American Red Cross staff, local community-based organizations, county agencies and, above all, the people she serves in times of need.
So why did Deborah choose the Red Cross?
“I’m the person who pulls over to the side of the road to help someone,” she said. “The Red Cross does that, and more. I am able to be a part of, and play a major role in, an organization whose mission I believe in.”
We are proud to call Deborah Smith a member of our California Gold County Region team.