Up Front

Reaching New Heights with Programs and Events

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

We are extremely busy at MSAA and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the work ahead. We have many exciting and innovative programs that were recently completed and made available to the MS community, plus several other new initiatives still in development, but well on their way! I’m honored to be able to share highlights from a few of these programs that are designed to provide vital information and support to individuals with MS and all those close to them, including family, friends, and medical professionals.

To begin, I am so pleased to recognize the August launch of our one-of-a-kind Ultimate MS Treatment Guide. This innovative guide is designed to assist the MS community with learning about the different disease-modifying therapies for MS and provides a wealth of information on each medication. One very unique feature is the comparison option, where different medications can be selected and viewed in side-by-side comparison charts. Videos from leading healthcare professionals as well as patient advocates are also included in this amazing online tool. Please see our “Program Notes” column for more details!

I am also very proud to talk about our outreach to the Latinx community and the addition of several informational materials and videos in Spanish, all found on our website. Included in these materials, all of which are available in both Spanish and English, is The MS and Hispanic American Experience, a four-page PDF of frequently asked questions. Additionally, MSAA offers a wonderful guide for families to help open the lines of communication and empower family members to each take an active role in managing MS. Titled, It’s a Generational Thing Toolkit: Creating an Understanding of MS Between Parents and Their Children, this publication includes activity pages, conversation guides, goal setting, resources, and more, in Spanish and English. Also, our Vaccination Safety in MS brochure and our MS Relapse Toolkit (now in its second edition) are both available in Spanish.

Visitors to the Spanish resources section of our website will also find information on MSAA’s programs and services, as well as an option to receive periodic emails announcing new resources in Spanish. This section also includes several educational videos – including our most recent series on COVID-19 Vaccines and MS, which present easy-to-understand information through animation.

Moving on to events, I would like to report on our annual Improving Lives Benefit, held earlier this year. We rely heavily on such fundraisers to make our programs possible. This particular event gave individuals the option to attend in-person at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and, at a later date, a virtual option to join from one’s home. Both versions of our Benefit were a huge success, raising much-needed funds to support our mission. Thank you to everyone who supported our Improving Lives Benefit! Please note that we will be announcing details for MSAA’s 2023 Improving Lives Benefit. More information will be coming soon.

On another exciting note, we recently announced our Improving Lives Through Art® Fall Series. This engaging program recognizes the benefits of artistic expression for the MS community – and invites our supporters to join us in attending fun, art-inspired virtual fundraising events. Earlier in the year, individuals had the opportunity to join virtual paint-along events led by an MSAA Art Showcase artist with MS. And coming up in December, anyone interested may sign up to join us virtually for an art tour from Paris, France, led by art enthusiast and docent Joe Caliva. Featured artists include Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Pierre August-Renoir. Please visit engage.mymsaa.org/ILTAfall for more information.

Looking to our current strategic plan for 2021-2023, we are keenly focused on achieving all of our goals. These include expanding our mission, diversifying our resources, heightening awareness through creative communications and marketing initiatives, plus professional development.

This latter directive encompasses a number of strategies to support individual and organizational growth – including the expansion of our team to better meet the needs of the MS community. We welcome these new team members and look forward to the important contributions they will make to our organization and our mission. During this fiscal year, we will be asking the MS community to provide feedback on our next strategic plan, so please look for that communication in the future.

On behalf of everyone at MSAA, I would like to send our best wishes to all of our readers for good health and happiness throughout the coming months and into the New Year.

Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management. Her career includes leadership positions with chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the American Diabetes Association. Earlier, she spent 14 years overseeing development activities at a large chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, leading explosive growth initiatives and ground-breaking strategic projects. An active member of the community, Ms. Murdoch has held several town positions and volunteers for her college alma mater, Drew University.