The First Boss of the Red Cross: Clara Barton

By Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Today, we celebrate Boss’s Day. While we recognize our current bosses, managers and mentors, we at the Red Cross want to honor our first boss: Clara Barton. She was a true leader whose work continues our organization’s mission forward. We’ve written about Barton several times on this blog, but this is the perfect time to talk about her as our organization’s leader.

Barton was the president of the American National Red Cross for 22 years. She adopted the framework of the Red Cross to fit the needs of the United States in war and peace. Prior to that, she led the charge for finding missing soldiers and fighting for the Geneva Treaty.

Proof of good leadership can be its lasting effects. The proof of Barton’s good leadership can be seen in the establishment and continuation of good deeds by the American Red Cross.

Barton led by example when it came to putting in hard work for a cause that she was passionate about. She also championed for women’s rights in the workplace by creating an organization where women could work and have a voice.

Photo via Google
Photo via Google

Even before she began the American Red Cross, Barton was changing the way the workforce operated. After Barton opened a school in New Jersey and saw attendance soar to 600 students, it was observed that a head of the school was needed. When a man was chosen for the position over Barton, she moved to Washington D.C. and began work as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office. This was the first time a woman had received a substantial clerkship in the federal government.

During her groundbreaking career, Barton worked closely with notable feminist leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone. Barton was the most decorated American woman, having received the Iron Cross, the Cross of Imperial Russia and the International Red Cross Medal.
Profiles in Caring describes Barton as “one of America’s greatest heroines — a true patriot and philanthropist who, when she saw a practical need, gave every ounce of her strength to address it.”

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