History Major to Red Cross Executive Director
Hope Roaten ’09 goes running toward disaster. The executive director for the mid-central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross, Roaten assisted with relief efforts after multiple hurricanes, the deadly Camp Fire in northern California, and nearly historic flooding in Ellicott City, Md.
“It definitely provides you with perspective and realize how good you have it,” Roaten said. “Going into these areas and seeing lives destroyed and towns decimated is a very difficult thing. On the other side, you see people rise up from that and be very resilient and grateful for the services you provide.
“It started out as a job, but it’s become part of who I am,” added Roaten, who has worked for the Red Cross for five years.
Before she was in the field providing hands-on assistance for storms like Dorian, Roaten knew her heart was in public service. After hearing about a friend who was pursuing a career in nonprofits, Roaten enrolled in a master’s in public administration program and shifted her career focus.
“When I look back now, I realize that the only thing I ever wanted to do was make a difference,” she said. “It is still amazing that the thing I seemingly stumbled in to, was the thing I was meant to do the entire time.”
She notes the impact the LVC community made on her career and the value of her liberal arts education.
“My time on campus enabled me to become someone who thinks critically and creatively, has the ability to solve complex problems, communicates effectively, and values differences in others,” said Roaten, a history graduate. “I never could have guessed that I would be in the nonprofit world and certainly could never have anticipated that I would be an executive director. Even when times were tough and I was unsure about my career path, the one thing I held firm to was my work ethic—once I set my mind to something, I will find a way to make it happen.”
Now working in a field that could throw anything her way, Roaten’s daily routine could include writing a grant, hosting a board of directors meeting, installing smoke alarms in a local neighborhood with Red Cross volunteers and community partners, or attending a blood drive.
“Every day, I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given through the American Red Cross.”
Roaten advises students looking to pursue a career in public service to volunteer and get experience wherever they can, long-term or short term, even if it means starting at the bottom of an organization. She started in an administrative position with the Fund Development Team of the American Red Cross before being promoted.
“When the days get long and stressful, or challenging circumstances arise, always bring it back to the mission and remember why you’re working so hard in the first place. This perspective will allow you to have longevity in the field.”
Pictured: Hope Roaten (right) with other American Red Cross employees preparing to depart for Puerto Rico in September 2017.
-- Darby Seymour, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant