News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 27, 2013

Nikki Wessley is new leader of Wabash Valley Red Cross

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Wabash Valley Red Cross will soon welcome its new executive director and she promises to “bring a lot of energy.”

Filled with enthusiasm and energy in her voice, Nikki Wessley, the new executive director of the Wabash Valley Red Cross, repeated the American Red Cross’ mission verbatim during an interview Friday.

“To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” she said.

“Memorizing the mission was very easy for me because I know what we do… I see what we do on a daily basis,” she added.  

   A firm believer of the mission, Wessley was selected to be the new executive director, succeeding Carol Stevens who retired last month after 27 and a half years heading the Wabash Valley chapter. She is scheduled to start in mid-August.

And she plans to continue the work that her predecessor has done.

Wessley said she plans to “bring my skills to the table” to help continue the work, adding that one of those skills is her ability to solve problems.

“The Red Cross here [Wabash Valley] is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. I look forward to being a part of a Red Cross that is active in the community,” she said.

Born in New York state who described herself as a “Navy brat,” Wessley has been to many states in the country, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois and Florida. But she spent a large portion of her childhood in Indiana, graduating from Princeton High School.

Wessley said she has felt a connection with Red Cross from an early age.

“My father was in the Navy” she said, so she grew up knowing of the work Red Cross did for the armed forces. During the interview, she passionately described the organization’s early history of helping wounded soldiers in battle.  

“I’ve just known about them but I’m still with the Red Cross today because I truly, personally believe in the mission”  she said.

Wessley started volunteering for the Red Cross while she was attending the University of Southern Indiana. She graduated with a bachelors degree in Public Relations and Advertising in 2010.

 For three years, Wessley has been working at the Red Cross Southwestern Indiana Chapter Big Rivers-Cardinal Location. She started as an office coordinator and was then promoted to disaster/services to armed forces manager.

Wessley said that she is well aware of the responsibilities of her new position. She discussed these responsibilities with a senior Red Cross official before even applying. She felt that it was the right move.

“I’m finished with what I set out to do here and I’m ready to move forward,” she said of her accomplishments at her previous job, including creating a bigger volunteer base.

Relocating to Terre Haute from Henderson, Ky., Wessley said she is “really excited” about her new job.

“I’ve worked with the staff in the region. Great staff to work with. Every time I’m speaking with them, I’m in awe about the experience they have… I’m definitely excited to work with them,” she said.

And the people she will be working with are also excited about her coming.

 "The Board is very excited to have Nikki as the new Executive Director. She will bring new life to the Board. Nikki will be an asset to the Wabash Valley" said Dr. Thomas H. Sawyer, Wabash Valley Red Cross Board chairperson.

Wessley and the Wabash Valley chapter look to the future.

 “Well, I know that my future is with the Red Cross. I can feel that this is exactly where I need to be,” Wessley said.

Tribune-Star reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.