McGovern takes over the struggling disaster relief organization, which is facing a declining reputation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, from Mark Everson, who was forced to resign in November in a sex scandal.
A lack of donations put the Red Cross $200 million in the red and it recently said it will lay off 1,000 of the 3,000 employees at its Washington headquarters, The Washington Post said Wednesday.
Dean Zerbe, who advised the Senate Finance Committee and led an inquiry into charity groups, said the Red Cross "more than anything" needs strong leadership to recover.
McGovern said fundraising is her top mission. She helped generate $3.2 billion for Johns Hopkins University and helped funding efforts for the United Way in Boston.
She also served in a managerial position with AT&T and Fidelity investments, serving at the phone giant for 24 years.
She takes over the reigns at the Red Cross June 23 with a $500,000 annual salary and a $65,000 signing bonus.