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American Red Cross Announces New Chief

Published: April 18, 2007

The American Red Cross said today that it had chosen Mark W. Everson, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, as its new chief executive. The choice was confirmed by its board this morning.

Mr. Eversonís appointment ends a search that has lasted more than a year, as the Red Cross struggled to overcome criticism of its performance after Hurricane Katrina and waited for Congress to pass legislation changing its governance structure.

Candidates for the job were wary of taking it before Congress restructured the Red Cross board and clarified the relationship between it and the organizationís senior management. The bill to do so was passed by the Senate in March and by the House of Representatives this month, clearing a major obstacle in the search.

Mr. Everson has worked to improve I.R.S. oversight of the nonprofit sector, increasing the resources devoted to the unit handling tax-exempt organizations and cracking down on the abuse of charities as tax shelters, nonprofit credit counseling and excessive compensation among nonprofit organizations.

He has pushed enforcement across the agency more broadly as well, pursuing the promoters of abusive tax shelter schemes, though he has been criticized for saying he would delay collecting back taxes from victims of Hurricane Katrina because of the potential negative publicity.

Mr. Everson faces several challenges. His three predecessors battled with the board, which has tended to micromanage the organization and to interfere with and even reverse management directives. The legislation enacted last month seeks to address that problem by reducing the size of the board and by changing the way board members are nominated to reduce the power of the Red Cross chapters, which have traditionally controlled the board.

Mr. Everson replaces Jack McGuire, who has served as interim president while the board sought a permanent leader after the departure of Marsha J. Evans, a retired rear admiral of the Navy, in 2005. Admiral Evans, who was charged with restoring the organizationís reputation after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, resigned in the midst of wide-ranging criticism of the Red Crossís response to Hurricane Katrina.

Her resignation was chalked up to disagreements with the board and its chairwoman, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, just as the departure of her predecessor, Dr. Bernadine Healy, was attributed to differences with the board.

Mr. Everson also will confront a deeply entrenched culture. The Red Cross, for instance, has been slow to adopt technology that could streamline its logistics operations and improve accountability.



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