Up Front: Now and Then

Photo of Douglas G. Franklin
Douglas G. Franklin

By Douglas G. Franklin
MSAA President and CEO

This title seems particularly timely as I am writing what is probably my last column as President & CEO of MSAA. I am retiring at the end of this year, and with MSAA’s move to our new headquarters at 375 Kings Highway North in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, I was transferring old files when I came across the Spring 1999 edition of The Motivator…where I wrote my first column. That article talked about a new beginning for MSAA and my desire to lead the organization into the 21st century, finding more effective ways to help people with MS live fuller lives. As I begin to close my chapter here, fulfilling 41 years of nonprofit management work, I can look back on my charity career as well as my tenure at MSAA as something that was nothing short of a blessing to serve.

Photo of Douglas G. Franklin
As Doug Franklin prepares for retirement, he reflects on his 16 years of service to MSAA by referring to an archived issue of The Motivator. This particular edition was published in the spring of 1999, introducing our new president and CEO to the MS community.

MSAA has improved so many lives during my 16-year tenure and we have enjoyed the dedication and professionalism of so many hard-working employees and volunteers. It has truly been a team effort in every sense and I am so very proud and so very fortunate to have had the privilege of leading this dynamic group of professionals.

In 1999 I spoke about applying social marketing principles, which has the potential of changing the way people think, feel, and act. Helping private-sector companies realize that social investment is essential and strategically in their best interests was imperative to the growth of our programs and services. In 1999 when I arrived, MSAA had no corporate partners. Today we receive support from more than two dozen and we do so in a way that is transparent and mutually rewarding. We could not do all the things we do to help people with MS without the support of our partners. We’re all here to help people with MS and that is the benchmark we focus on in every partnership.

When I began work for MSAA, there was a strong need for collaboration between the various MS organizations. Working together we formed the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, creating collaborative partnerships that aspire to coordinate better service delivery and eliminate gaps in service. Speaking with a collective voice on public policy matters that affect our MS constituency has been critical to gain support for important access to care issues. It was my privilege to lead the MS Coalition as its President for nine years. My thanks to all of the other seven member organizations that make up the MS Coalition for their invaluable support and sincerity in always putting the person with MS first.

Photo of Douglas G. Franklin
Doug Franklin stands happily by the window in his office at MSAA’s new headquarters. One of his primary initiatives before leaving MSAA was to orchestrate the sale of the former building – which was no longer a fit for MSAA’s needs – along with the purchase of a new, more appropriate home office, where efficiency and cost savings could be maximized.

Honesty and integrity are the social mortar that holds a foundation together. MSAA has built one very solid organization that is praised across the country for its compassion and its kind, caring approach to embrace people with MS and walk their journey with them each and every day.

“IMPROVING LIVES TODAY” is more than just our tagline. It is a clarion call to action that everyone at MSAA lives each day, knowing that together we can make good things happen. We all know that it is truly in giving that we receive!

I have been fortunate to have had so many opportunities to work with many great people at this incredible association. The privilege, the pleasure, and the honor to serve as leader of this great organization have been all mine.

Doug Franklin joined MSAA as President & CEO in 1999. He has a distinguished career in nonprofit leadership and is a former national trainer in strategic planning for the Peter Drucker Foundation. A published international expert in social marketing and corporate social investment, he is a graduate of four universities and holds dual certifications in two professional associations. He currently serves on the National Board of the Key Philanthropic Organizations Committee of the American Society of Association Executives.