MSAA: Publications - The Motivator: Winter/Spring 2007 - Up Front
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Home > MSAA Publications > The Motivator > The Motivator: Winter/Spring 2007 > Up Front
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Up Front

Douglas G. Franklin Photo
By Douglas G. Franklin
MSAA President and CEO

Updates on the exciting progress of the MS Coalition have been referenced in this column before, but I am very pleased to report that we now have an operational forum established that promises great things for people with MS. MSAA has been a leading advocate for this type of collective effort. The premise of the MS Coalition is that by working through a collaborative network of independent MS organizations, the opportunities to increase cooperation and leverage more effective use of resources can only benefit the overall MS community.

The founding members (MSAA, the MS Foundation, and the Consortium of MS Centers) organized a number of meetings over the past two years to find ways to bring the MS community together. Last year we received excellent support for this concept from the new leadership of the National MS Society. Working from a "one team with one dream" approach, we are discovering multiple ways we can work together while maintaining our individual identities. Collaborating on service outreach, advocacy issues, mutually funded quality-of-life projects, and general support to the MS community, can all lead to improved efficiencies and minimization of gaps in services across the country. We are all committed to this effort to avoid duplicating efforts and ensure maximum use of all of our limited resources to help people with MS, wherever and whenever we can.

I am honored to have been elected the first president of this nascent organization and I encourage everyone in the MS world to help us help others by getting involved. The websites of the current members are all listed on We have an opportunity here to do some great things in our collective efforts to improve the quality of life for everyone affected by MS.

I'm also pleased to announce that I'm leading a social marketing campaign encouraging people with MS who are not on any currently approved FDA drug therapy to consider the American Academy of Neurology recommendations to use these therapies to help improve their quality of life and diminish the frequency of exacerbations. We intend to produce public education materials and public service announcements to help address this issue and help more people make informed decisions.

Finally, I hope that everyone remembered that March is MS Awareness Month. MSAA had several events during the month, and many more are planned throughout the year to educate individuals about multiple sclerosis. This time of year also marks an important outreach by MSAA and other MS organizations in advocating for increased federal funding for MS research. Visit MSAA's website at, or call MSAA's Helpline at (800) 532-7667 for more information.


Doug Franklin joined MSAA as President & CEO in 1999. He has a distinguished career in association leadership and is a former national trainer in strategic planning for the Peter Drucker Foundation. A published international expert in the field of social marketing, he is a graduate of four universities. He currently serves on the National Board of the Key Philanthropic Organizations Committee of the American Society of Association Executives and serves on the Executive Committee of Health First - America's Charities Board in Washington, DC.

Meet MSAA Board Member Tom Vassallo

Tom Vassallo Photo Tom Vassallo discovered MSAA through his longstanding friendship with former Board chairperson and current Development chair Joe King. He and Joe worked together for the Boy Scouts of America "many" years ago and have been lifelong friends ever since. "In talking with Joe, I expressed to him that I wanted to volunteer in some capacity for MSAA, especially since I have a personal connection to multiple sclerosis," said Tom. Tom joined MSAA's Board of Directors in November 2005 and has been fully engaged ever since.

Currently, Tom serves on the Development Committee and chairs the Corporate Advisory Council where his advice from the business world is critical. "I try to help the Board take what MSAA does and bring that alive to the corporate world."

In his role on the Corporate Advisory Council, Tom reaches out to corporations and business individuals sharing the mission statement as well as the programs and services MSAA offers. One of the programs Tom highlights is the toll-free Helpline. "The Helpline is such a great service. It is the initial contact that people have with MSAA and in some instances it is the first thing a person does when they are first diagnosed with MS." Tom adds, "I give the Helpline number to anyone I speak with who has a connection to MS, and I tell them to call. The feedback I get is amazing. People have such great interaction with MSAA - it makes me so proud to be a part of this organization."

In the years ahead, Tom sees a bright future for MSAA. "MSAA's biggest opportunity is for national growth in services and to reach more people in more places. With that being said, it is also important that MSAA is able to grow financially as well, so it can sustain these vital programs," says Tom.

Personally, Tom is one of the founding partners of Axis Global Systems, a transportation, logistics, and fulfillment company. He resides in Mohegan Lake, New York with his wife and two children. When Tom is not busy managing Axis Global Systems, he enjoys golfing and traveling.

- Amanda Bednar


Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 10:19