Up Front

MSAA Embarks Upon a New Strategic Plan

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

I hope that all of our readers were able to “weather” the dangerous heat waves and storms that impacted our country during the summer months. We can now look forward to cooler temperatures and all of the other things that the change in season brings.

When we think of the coming months, many look forward to the New Year approaching. And while most people think of the New Year beginning on January 1st, MSAA’s New Year actually starts on July 1st, at the beginning of our fiscal year. Frequently in our “Up Front” column, I talk about the current fiscal year and vital details of our strategic plan. On July 1st of this year, we not only started our new fiscal year, but we also began the implementation of our new 2024-2026 strategic plan.

The start of a new strategic plan is always an exciting time at MSAA. The purpose of a strategic plan is to re-examine the mission and vision, ensuring that the work of the organization continues to be focused on our core values. In our new strategic plan, our core values include compassion, dedication, teamwork, and creativity, as well as diversity, inclusion, and health equity. Our goals for the next three years are as follows: increase activity addressing issues of health equity in the MS community; strengthen connections and expand actions to support living the best possible life with MS; champion the power of self-advocacy and shared decision-making; and lead in improving MS outcomes through implementation research. 

While our strategic plan serves to shape our programs, we depend on our generous donors and various fundraising events to support these urgently needed services. Our most successful fundraiser is our annual Improving Lives Benefit, which was held in May and consisted of two events: one in-person and one held virtually. This year’s Improving Lives Benefit in-person event was once again held at the beautiful Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where we honored our Mission Honoree, the highly acclaimed actress and MS advocate, Selma Blair. We also recognized our Corporate Honoree, Polar Products President and CEO, Jacob Graessle. We are truly grateful to all of our devoted attendees and supporters.

Another amazing way of supporting MSAA is through our Team MSAA events. Team MSAA is once again participating in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by State Farm® in Orlando, Florida. I am thrilled to be alongside Team MSAA participants again this year for runDisney as we collectively raise funds for MSAA’s vital programs. In early 2023, Team MSAA brought together our largest group ever with almost 100 participants fundraising for MSAA’s free programs and services – and we’re looking forward to an even larger impact in 2024! For more information on other ways to support MSAA, please visit our “Thoughts About Giving” column on page 32.

Before concluding this edition of “Up Front,” I wanted to give my personal thoughts on this issue’s cover story, “The Importance of Diet and Nutrition in MS.” While more research is needed, studies suggest that certain foods can have an effect on important functions, including our immune system, inflammation, and disease progression, as well as a number of MS symptoms. Often the foods that appear to have a positive effect on MS are healthy options for the entire family as well. With this in mind, families and friends may want to make meal preparation, cooking, and nutrition a fun group activity – all while socializing and encouraging good food choices at the same time.

Finally, I want to extend my wishes to all of our readers for good health and happiness throughout the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

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.