African American History Month: A conversation with Board Member Ron Davis

He has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop, but what may be most impressive about Ron Davis, on top of a long list of career accomplishments, is the time and dedication he thoughtfully puts into serving his community.  

Ron Davis, accepting his award at the Celebration of Volunteers in 2019

Davis turned his drive into action on the pro football field. In the early 1970s, Davis played as a defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers, the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals, and the Atlanta Falcons. After leaving the NFL, he worked his way up in the corporate world, eventually leading him to his current position as Chief Diversity Officer & Director of Community Development at Parx Casino. 

Davis is also a member of the Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania Region’s board acting as co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He is instrumental in tending to the incredible relationship the region has with Parx Casino, a donor and supporter of the American Red Cross locally.  

As if that isn’t already a large commitment, Davis is also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion team for the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross; it’s work he takes very much to heart.  

“The journey of African American participation in the Red Cross and the African American participation in America, this great country, is an American story,” Davis said. 

With Black History Month in view, it’s also a time Davis is reflecting on what the month means to him.  

“Black History Month is a time of celebration. There are so many people who have been leaders in various areas of American History. So many leaders who inspire me and have inspired me,” he said. “I consider myself standing on the shoulders of others who have done a tremendous job for America. This is a great country and I’ve been blessed to have grown because of the faith, trust and focus of others.” 

Specifically, Davis mentions Dr. Charles Drew, who plays a defining role in American Red Cross biomedical history. As a surgeon, Dr. Drew pioneered methods of storing blood plasma for transfusion and organized the first large blood bank in the country.  The Biomedical Services Charles Drew Institute is named for him. (Read more about Dr. Charles Drew here: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/Red-Cross-Celebrates-African-American-History-Month.html

Coincidentally, it was blood services that began Davis’ nearly decade worth of commitment to the American Red Cross. “The mission is one that attracted me through my church, originally,” he said. “We have a blood outreach and I was really astounded that an organization would take the time to reach out to me to help me number one, help me help other people through my donation of blood, and also help me understand what the Red Cross is all about. The disaster side and all the other things that they do.” 

Davis has been a blood donor and blood donation advocate ever since. If there’s one thing that links his early NFL days to his current Red Cross efforts, he says it’s teamwork. “I played on some horrible teams, so I definitely know what a good team is when I get on one,” Davis says laughingly. “And the Red Cross is a great team. The team concept is one that is near and dear to me.” 

Davis speaking at an Interfaith Breakfast at ENON Tabernacle Baptist Church in 2019

It’s a concept Davis doesn’t just talk about but puts into practice. He’s been a key player at the American Red Cross and was recognized with a Commemorative Award at the 2019 Celebration of Volunteers in Philadelphia. And to the organization’s delight, he doesn’t plan to back down any time soon.  

“I want to thank the Red Cross for its willingness to listen, its willingness to connect with hard questions, some of them uncomfortable, and its willingness to move forward in the diversity and inclusion space to help our communities understand the Red Cross and save lives in all our communities,” he adds. 

To which the organization says, “thank you, Ron!” 

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