AUBURN | The Cayuga County Red Cross introduced its newly hired branch manager to the public Wednesday with a meet-and-greet session at Curley's Restaurant in Auburn.
Pamela Baker Gratton, who was hired earlier this month, met with the public and introduced herself to the community as the new face of the local Red Cross. She was chosen from a very selective field of candidates to take over the manager role at the Cayuga County branch on State Street.
Gratton has more than 20 years of professional experience at a management position and has worked with several non-profit organizations in the past. She spent the last eight years working with Junior Achievement of Central New York, a children's literacy group, and was also working on projects of her own that led her to the Red Cross.
"I was running my own business and it was pretty successful but I didn't feel like it was important," Gratton said. " I wanted to get back into a mission that was more critical."
As the new manager of the Cayuga County branch, Gratton will be responsible for serving as the liaison between the community and the Red Cross, making sure that the foundation is successfully providing resources to those in need.
"We feel that we have a strong connection with this community and it's important that we maintain that," said Rosie Taravella, regional chief executive officer for the Red Cross. "We don't want that to fade."
Taravella said one of the main reasons Gratton was chosen for the position over the other candidates was her ties to the community, having lived in Meridian for more than 25 years. She also said the agency was drawn to Gratton's experience with nonprofit agencies.
"She's been great and fits right in already," Taravella said.
Gratton said that she has already pinpointed a few tasks that she wants to focus on in her work with the Red Cross. She wants to raise awareness of the more underground aspects of the organization's work and help educate people about how they can help in their own ways.
"I want to make more people aware of the every-day work that we do," she said. "We aren't just there when disasters happen."
Gratton will be working on informing the public of the training classes that the Red Cross offers to those who are interested in volunteering in crisis situations. She will also focus on building partnerships with other organizations throughout Cayuga County that she says will be "mutually beneficial," something that Gratton said she is very excited about.
"I'm very passionate about this mission and am really looking forward to it," she said. "It's what I was put here for."