By Gina Ross Murdoch
As we approach the end of our fiscal year, I find myself reflecting on the last year. We have all seen such change in our lives and our organization that a moment to think seemed appropriate. A colleague recently spoke about the power of writing “a letter to myself,” telling the “past MSAA” what was ahead. I also see great value in writing a letter to our “future MSAA” with our hopes and dreams.
Since the beginning of our fiscal year in July 2021, so much has happened. In our fundraising efforts, we saw the expansion of our Improving Lives Through Art program. This series brought together all members of the MS community for a shared experience of creativity and connection. What started due to the pandemic, has grown into a burgeoning new program. In my letter to the past MSAA, I would lean in even more on this program. I know so many who felt the excitement that was lacking in our lives just by painting a sun, learning about amazing artists, and feeling the support of the MS community across the country.
Our programmatic offerings greatly expanded during the last year with particular emphasis on providing resources and information to those too often underrepresented. We expanded our Spanish-language resources, outreach, and educational webinars due to the guidance of our Latinx/Hispanic Advisory Board. There was significant growth in programming for those with MS who live in rural areas on how to create a support circle wherever you are. Also, our work with our African American Advisory Board resulted in many new educational programs. What I would say to the past MSAA and the future MSAA is that our work, especially this work, is vital and must always be at the forefront of our plans.
Our MSAA family welcomed several new staff members during this fiscal year. Each new person brings a wide variety of experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and energy to our mission. We are thrilled to see what each of them will add to the future of MSAA. I would tell both the past and future MSAA, new friends are coming and be ready to evolve.
In our next fiscal year starting on July 1, 2022, we will embark on our next strategic planning cycle. Our new plan will launch on July 1, 2023. Before then, I encourage the MS community to help us plan our future by giving feedback on upcoming surveys, sending notes, advising us, and making your voice heard. All perspectives are critical to creating the next chapter of MSAA. What I would tell the past MSAA is hold on through the challenges and know there is an important future where MSAA will play a vital role in the MS landscape. What I would tell the future MSAA is that we remain committed and energized to grow our organization to make a greater impact on the MS community in the future.
In reflecting on all of this, I was reminded of a great quote by business guru, Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” By writing letters to the past MSAA and future MSAA, we take the opportunity to gain perspective from our experiences and use that perspective to shape our potential. I look forward to working with the MS community to create the MSAA of the future and finding ways to Improve MORE Lives Today and Continue into Tomorrow.
*Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management and has served as MSAA’s President and CEO since 2016. 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. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts on how MSAA is improving lives today, or to learn how to get involved in our mission.