The chairman of the American Red Cross—the humanitarian organization founded by Clara Barton in 1881—is, actually, not a chairman. Bonnie McElveen-Hunter was appointed the first woman to the position by President George W. Bush in June 2004. Before that, the North Carolina native served two years as the Ambassador to the Republic of Finland, where she was knighted for starting a women business leader's summit and an anti-trafficking campaign. In all her spare time, she is the founder-CEO of Pace Communications, and served as finance chairman of Elizabeth Dole's bid for the U.S. presidency. (Dole became the first female president of the American Red Cross in 1996.)

But the work McElveen-Hunter believes God has called her to is with the American Red Cross, which deploys over 1 million volunteers annually to people devastated by natural disasters and political conflicts. McElveen-Hunter, who recently began her third term as Red Cross chairman, spoke with Her.meneutics editor Katelyn Beaty about women in business, Haiti's cholera outbreak, and why she is handing the John M. Templeton Biblical Values Award, recently awarded her by the National Bible Association, over to her mother.

While in Finland, you established the Women Business Leaders Summit in Helsinki. Then you founded the United Way Women's Leadership Initiative and a women's initiative in Greensboro. Why are women so invaluable in today's economic sectors?

I believe commerce is the most important force in the world today. It's what ushers in the social, economic, and political change. And if you can create opportunity for women, guess what they do? They help each other. They help their families, and it creates dignity of purpose. The money that's generated ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.