Why Get Involved With the Tiffany Circle? One Local Member Shares Her Story

Hurricanes were a part of Suzanne Fradette’s reality as a child growing up along one of Florida’s barrier islands.

If the worst ever happened, Fradette said, “I always knew that the American Red Cross – and their safe shelters – would be there for my family.”

suzanne_fradette_pmrevAs a young adult Suzanne began donating money to the Red Cross because she learned that wherever there was a disaster – the Red Cross was there for those people too.

Now a partner in the firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers, Fradette has exponentially grown her engagement with the Red Cross as a member of the Desert to the Sea Region’s Board of Directors, and as Orange County’s founding member of the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle.

Launched in 2006, the Tiffany Circle is a community of women leaders who advance the American Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent, and treasure.  Today the Tiffany Circle has grown to over 750 members across the country who have collectively raised over $70 million dollars for the Red Cross mission and who roll up their sleeves in local Red Cross community projects across the nation.

A name like “Tiffany Circle” might seem incongruous with an organization known in part for boots-on-the-ground work in disaster.  But the name evokes a key element to the very existence of the American Red Cross, namely, the caring and hard work of women. After the U.S. Civil War, a reconciliation and fundraising effort was launched by women to benefit the American Red Cross: women from the South contributed $5,000, women from the North contributed $5,000, and together they commissioned three stained glass window panels for $10,000 from Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios.  These panels, located at Red Cross Headquarters in Washington D.C., include images symbolizing heroic womanhood and humanitarianism.  This history is also why being a member of the Tiffany Circle requires a $10,000 investment in the Red Cross mission.

Leaders like Fradette are passionate about their commitment to the Red Cross:

“I love the Red Cross because of its universality.  And I mean universality in two ways – first, anyone could need the Red Cross at some point in their life, no matter their socioeconomic background. Second – this is a global organization. I’ve lived in Europe and in Asia for large parts of my career and I’ve traveled around the world.  I’ve seen the services that the Red Cross and Red Crescent have brought to the globe, and as a global citizen I like to know that the organization reaches out across the country and around the world.”

The Tiffany Circle resonated with Suzanne because she says, “I saw it as an opportunity to network with like-minded women who cared about philanthropy. There’s women from all walks of life, some are business women like me, while others are heavily involved volunteers. It’s been an amazing opportunity to expand into a powerful national and global network.  I’ve found an incredible camaraderie and sisterhood with the women I’ve met, and I feel even more dedicated to the Red Cross mission having learned so much from this group of women.”

Among the highlights of her Tiffany Circle experiences, Suzanne lists working with women in Paris to help them start up their own Tiffany Circle, engaging local Members to make transformational investments in committing $100,000+ investments as Bonnie McElveen-Hunter Members, and traveling with the group to London for the first Tiffany Circle Global Summit.

“It was incredible to visit with British Red Cross and learn about their history – particularly serving American as well as British soldiers during war in the European theater – as well as their impressive current operations serving the people of Britain and the refugees of Europe.”

Suzanne Fradette takes a moment to reflect. “What do I want to come out of all of this? I’d love for people to know more about the quieter things that the Red Cross does to make a difference in the lives of so many people. It’s beyond what everyone thinks of – blood and disaster – when they think of the Red Cross.  It’s the day to day humanitarian outreach: CPR training, youth leadership camps, the stuff that’s happening every day, in every community around the world.  So much of that is unsung.  The press coverage is huge during times of disaster, but people just don’t realize what is being done quietly, every day.”

For over 130 years, beginning with the “Angel of the Battlefield” founder, Clara Barton, women have worked with the American Red Cross to save lives and strengthen communities.  Thanks to the determination of volunteers and philanthropists like Suzanne Fradette, this legacy and action continues its vital mission.  For more information about getting involved in this special Circle of women philanthropists, please contact Pamela Stone at the American Red Cross, (714) 481-5363.

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