Up Front: MSAA Adapts while Reaching a Milestone

Photo of Gina Ross Murdoch
Gina Ross Murdoch

By Gina Ross Murdoch
MSAA President and CEO

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has turned life upside-down for virtually everyone in the United States and many throughout the world. From all of us at MSAA, we truly hope that you and your family are staying healthy and safe. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been directly affected by this virus, and to all those serving on the frontlines to save those affected. We are grateful to these medical professionals and first responders, as well as to all of the essential workers who provide the vital products and services needed to ensure our safety and wellbeing.

We know that many people have lost jobs, are having challenges financially, and may be feeling overwhelmed with the emotional, physical, and mental effects of the situation. Our cover story for this issue of The Motivator covers this latter topic, in an effort to emphasize that no one is alone, we are all working together in this difficult time, and several strategies, resources, and emergency contacts are available to assist you.

We understand the importance of timely and accurate information during this healthcare crisis and have worked with MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer Barry Hendin, MD and the Chair of MSAA’s Healthcare Advisory Council Carrie Hersh, DO, MSc to provide a series of webinars about COVID-19, which include current recommendations for MS care and overall health management. To access these webinars, as well as additional content about COVID-19, and resources, please visit mymsaa.org/covid. We hope that this information is helpful to you.

As noted in my recent message to the MS community, MSAA was able to transition all staff to work remotely, beginning in mid-March; we also discontinued all business travel and postponed all in-person educational programs and events. Importantly, we were able to put the technology and protocols in place to ensure that MSAA continues to serve the entire MS community as we have done consistently for 50 years.

Everyone’s plans have dramatically changed due to this fast-moving pandemic, and the same is true for MSAA. Our original plan for this “Up Front” column was to talk about MSAA’s 50 years, since indeed, we have reached this tremendous milestone as of 2020. While we needed to cancel all immediate in-person educational programs and fundraising events, including our greatly anticipated 50th Anniversary Improving Lives Benefit, we were, however, able to accomplish some important goals in recognition of our 50th year.

In January, we unveiled our new logo, featuring a warm and welcoming icon – designed to appear as an abstract of people gathering – conveying support and communication… hope and inspiration… positive energy and connection. We also created a special 50th Anniversary edition of our new logo. In addition, we introduced MSAA’s redesigned website, highlighted by a colorful and easy-to-navigate design. Please see the box below to view these design changes to our logo and website.

And finally, during MSAA’s MS Awareness Month in March, MSAA conducted a number of informative programs including webinars, an Ask the Expert online program, and podcasts. To read about these activities and learn how to access our recorded programs, please see “Program Notes.”

Once again, on behalf of everyone at MSAA, I would like to extend our greatest gratitude to all of the heroes who continue to work on the frontline, saving lives, and providing essential services during this difficult time. Please know that we are thinking of all of those affected by this pandemic, and we wish the entire MS community both good health and safety throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

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.