Sarah McLean Awarded American Red Cross Navin Narayan Award for Excellence in Youth Leadership

Departmental News

Posted:  Jul 21, 2022 - 12:00pm

Sarah McLean is affectionately known among her Red Cross colleagues as the “volunteer magician” for her upbeat approach in working with clients and recruiting volunteers.

In 2018, on starting her freshman year at the University of New Mexico, the then-18-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, decided she wanted to have a positive impact on her newly adopted Albuquerque community and became a Red Cross volunteer. In 2020, McLean was named Red Cross New Mexico Youth Volunteer of the year.

The honors continue and, on Aug. 4, in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the recent UNM anthropology graduate will receive the American Red Cross Navin Narayan Award for Excellence in Youth Leadership.

“I am incredibly honored to be receiving this award, and I am so grateful that I can represent the wonderful people from the Albuquerque office and the Arizona and New Mexico region at the national level,” McLean said in a news release. “The Albuquerque field office was a welcoming place where I could build connections with the people who worked there.”

Impressed by the dedication of her fellow volunteers, McLean took it upon herself to write hundreds of cards, celebrating them on their birthdays, anniversaries of their volunteer service and other occasions.

She and her supervisor, Swim Karim, also found a new and younger audience for the work the Red Cross does by producing a number of short question-and-answer videos and related content about the organization.

“Sarah speaks in a way that is comforting and great for recruiting,” Karim said. “I appreciate the way that she is willing to go on camera and present topics to a wide range of people and still speak on their level.”

The nonprofit American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families.

To become a Red Cross volunteer or to make a donation, call 505-265-8514 or go to

Original Article: Albuquerque Journal 7/19/2022