Lawyer Bill Earley named new CEO of San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the Red Cross

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross announced Friday that labor lawyer and civic booster Bill Earley will be its next chief executive.

Earley will succeed former City Councilman Tony Young, who stepped down in March after a little more than a year in the position.

"I'm humbled to join the dedicated staff and volunteers at the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the Red Cross," Earley said. "It's an honor to join one of the most trusted community service organizations in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies."

Whether it's a raging wildfire or a flood, the Red Cross usually isn't far behind as first responders are ready to help. During Friday's news conference to announce Earley's hire, one of the chapter's employees said, "This is an organization where the public trust is paramount."

However, the reputation of the local Red Cross is far from pristine. In 2001, CEO Dodie Rotherham was blasted for having a salary of more than $300,000 and her handling of the 2001 Alpine wildfire.

The community donated $410,000 for the victims of that fire, but reports showed that the Red Cross only gave them $25,000.

After a national investigation and an internal audit, changes were made.

Following the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks, the national Red Cross chapter came under fire when it said that some of the money donated would go to the charity's general fund and not directly to help the 9/11 victims.

Earley told 10News, "You know what, I look at it like those are challenges. We've been moving past that. Let's not think about those things because honestly my first day is two weeks from now, we've going to move this thing forward in a very positive direction."

Days after Young left, three Red Cross board members resigned. Even now, when asked at the news conference what happened to Young, there are no answers.

"We're not talk about personnel matters," said an official.

Earley spent 24 years with the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, where he made partner. He has also served in leadership roles with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the SDSU Alumni Association, among others.

The San Diego State University alumnus was the Internet broadcast voice for the women's basketball team for several years.

Earley will begin his new job on July 14. He told 10News the first thing he's going to do is write a check to the Red Cross because he wants to be invested in it.

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