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By Lorna Fenenbock, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mother Theresa, Bruce Willis, Claude Monet, and Jason Statham have in common? What’s better, a good cookie or a DQ Blizzard? What’s the best thing about the American Red Cross?

This week, we asked Maria White, our Chief Executive Director for Red Cross New Hampshire, some fun questions in a new segment called “Getting to Know You.” Our volunteers have created some questions for Maria in order to get to know her better. Maria’s answers are interesting and… may surprise you.

Maria White, Chief Executive Officer for American Red Cross New Hampshire.

Maria White, Chief Executive Officer for American Red Cross New Hampshire.

How did you get started with the Red Cross?

I started with the Red Cross after spending time as an Interim Exec for a child advocacy non profit in Concord. My time as interim was coming to an end and I was transferring authority to the new exec I helped hire with the board and the transition team. The job at the Red Cross was posted on the Center for Non Profits website – for the roll as Executive Director. This was back when we had several different chapters across the state.

If you could meet any celebrity for dinner, who would it be and why?

I could never imagine sitting down with a celebrity. It’s not something I ever really thought would be fun or fulfilling in anyway. I think the thought of it makes me so nervous that actually doing it would not really be enjoyable! I would actually love to meet someone who has done amazing things in the world. Mother Theresa comes to mind, Claude Monet as well. I am more interested in meeting people who have done something amazing and learn from them – to be more like them in some respects – than to meet someone ‘famous’ by today’s standards. But if I had to choose a celebrity – I would love to meet Arnold  Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, or Jason Statham – I am a sucker for a good action movie and these gentlemen have always been wonderful to watch!

Are you a sports fan? Who’s your favorite team to cheer on?

I love the Patriots – grew up on them with my father. Red Sox are my baseball team but I have a hard time sitting through a whole game at times! Football is really a sport I enjoy. When my daughter played sports – softball, swimming, soccer – those were my favorite teams to cheer on.

We know you have a sweet tooth! What’s your favorite junk food item?

I love a good cookie. Always have. I also enjoy ice cream – a lot. I do not really like all the crazy flavors they have nowadays. I am a simple chocolate chip ice cream lover or a DQ blizzard! Honestly any type of ice cream is good with me. Love frozen yogurt as well!

If you could be on the cover of any magazine, what would it be and why?

Women’s Health. I enjoy fitness – being physically fit and eating well (at least by most standards). I like feeling strong and having muscles and Women’s Health emulates that in their magazine.

What’s the one thing you love the most about the Red Cross?

The people. I have never worked with a more dedicated group of staff and volunteers. All the people who come to this organization to give of their time amaze me each and every day. Their dedication and their willingness to do everything they can to help someone in need is truly a gift.

What has been the most challenging part of your role with the Red Cross.

Knowing that I cannot always make everyone happy. In a perfect world I would want to do whatever I could to get everyone to consensus. Maybe not everyone would be thrilled with the final outcome, but everyone would understand. At times at the Red Cross there has been no way possible to get everyone to consensus either based on time or financial constraints. I have come to learn that it is most important to provide as much information as I can, to be as transparent as possible, but to realize that in the end, I cannot always help everyone get on the same page.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

My parents. Far and away. I was adopted by my mother and father when I was 6 weeks old. They took me in after believing they could not have their own children. They were fortunate however to have two biological sons, and then when the time was right, they also adopted my younger sister from Korea. My parents are the most caring people in the world. We grew up fairly poor – on food stamps, hot lunch program at school – but my parents always gave their children everything they could. Every holiday was amazing and they did all they could to give us what we needed to be good people and help others when we could.

Where is the furthest you’ve traveled?

Istanbul Turkey – last year for the International Disaster Management exhibition for the American Red Cross. It is a truly amazing country – incredibly friendly and warm. If I ever have a chance to go again I would love to see the beautiful beaches. But the history in Turkey is so deep that one must always take in some of the culture and history when traveling as well. I made wonderful friends in Turkey while I was there – many of whom I stay in touch with today.

If there is one thing that people should know about  you, it’s _______.

I am a straight shooter. I say it like I mean it. Which is good and bad. Most people close to me know and understand this as one of my many faults – and still seem to love me anyway! Where this gets me into trouble the most is for people who do not know me. I have learned to temper this trait with age – but I struggle with it all the time.