Seth-Cimini advances UB and the Red Cross

Jennifer Seth-Cimini pictured in the WNY Red Cross headquarters.

Jennifer Seth-Cimini, pictured here in the Clement House at the local Red Cross headquarters on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, has been volunteering with the organization in addition to her work at UB as senior director of advancement for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published March 2, 2023

“No matter the situation, you’re there to help every person. That’s what makes me feel so good and feel so proud. We’re there when you need us. ”
Jennifer Seth-Cimini, senior director of advancement
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

For the past 12 years, Jennifer Seth-Cimini's role at UB has focused on giving. As senior director of advancement for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, she builds meaningful relationships with individuals who want to make large gifts to the university.

Now, she's the one giving — her time to the Red Cross.

“I found myself in a stage of life where my two kids were becoming adults and I knew there was a huge change ahead of me," Seth-Cimini says. “I was reflecting on the impact I’m having on the world and thinking about what I want to do. I've always admired the Red Cross and how they provide aid and compassion to people during the most difficult times in their lives. I’m a high-energy person who needs to do things, and their mission really resonates with me. So, I took the moment as an opportunity to start my journey.”

In fall 2021, she completed an online training curriculum that covered topics ranging from the philosophy of the Red Cross and how to interact with people during a disaster to specialized training in feeding, distribution of emergency supplies, sheltering and reunification.

“The training was extensive — it took a couple of months,” Seth-Cimini said. “It’s a huge commitment. If you’re going to invest your time with the Red Cross, you want to make sure that you learn everything you can so that you feel comfortable helping people during what may be one of the most difficult times of their lives.”

Seth-Cimini is now one of more than 2,000 Red Cross volunteers in the Western New York region, working two on-call shifts every week with the Western New York Chapter Disaster Action Team. During each shift, she coordinates and responds to the immediate needs of neighbors, providing them with food, clothing, lodging, emotional support, prescription medication and other critical items.

“Fires account for about 90% of disaster responses,” she explains. “The WNY chapter had 331 fire responses in 2022. But it could also be other events that displace neighbors, such as flood, fallen trees or electrical issues.”

Seth-Cimini is also trained in mass care, which equips her to respond to large-scale events, both locally and nationally, including tornados and wildfires, and reunification, which provides resources to reconnect individuals as quickly as possible following a disaster.

While she hasn’t yet volunteered outside of the region, she has experienced local mass-care responses.

“The tragic shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in 2022 began as a WNY Disaster Action Team response as we provided support for the community and first responders,” Seth-Cimini said. “Over time, it became a mass-care event, where volunteers mobilized from across the country to provide aid. My role was to help at one of the food distribution sites. I’ll never forget it.”

Seth-Cimini also recalls her participation in the lake-effect snowstorm of November 2022, where she helped coordinate the needs of Red Cross volunteers who came to Buffalo from Pennsylvania and other parts of New York to provide medical and health support.

“Every experience I’ve had with the organization has been memorable,” she said. “No matter the situation, you’re there to help every person. That’s what makes me feel so good and feel so proud. We’re there when you need us.”

Seth-Cimini, who also earned her MBA from the UB School of Management in 2002, believes the lessons she has learned from volunteering with the Red Cross have directly impacted her mission in advancement.

“In both roles, I have to be caring, compassionate and a good listener,” she said. “That’s how you build healthy, meaningful relationships — and above all, that’s how you help and support people. My experience with the Red Cross has helped me focus even deeper on connecting with people, and it has changed me forever.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life, and I envision myself doing it for as long as I can.”