2017 ALS Association Leadership Conference Filled with Inspiration and Innovation


The ALS Association’s annual Leadership Conference earlier this month brought together leaders from all 39 chapters across the country in Irvine, Calif., to share ideas and collaborate. At this year’s conference, we were pleased to honor several heroes who are living with ALS and who have provided great inspiration to all those around them.

On the first day of our conference, we came together for the Chapter Innovation Awards. This is the third year of giving out these award, which recognizes trailblazing chapters who are actively developing and implementing new ideas and/or methods in the delivery of our mission priorities. The spirit of this award is one of collaboration, sustainability, and measurable impact.

Steve Becvar (Greater San Diego Chapter) and Amy Sugimoto (Greater Sacramento Chapter) MC’d this year’s Awards

This year’s winners are:

Awareness Category:  St. Louis Regional Chapter for their Visual Storytelling Portraits of ALS

Care Services Category:  We had a tie in this category!  North Carolina Chapter for their Telemedicine Program and the DC/MD/VA Chapter for their Free Standing Assistive Technology Clinic. Jerry Dawson from the N.C. Chapter and Judy Taylor from the DC/MD/VA Chapter accepted the award.

Revenue/Fundraising, Financial Stability Category: St. Louis Regional Chapter for their Impact Measurement: Customizable Dollars to Impact Infographic

Awareness, Advocacy, Care Services, Research, Revenue/Fundraising, Financial Stability, Unity of Purpose Category: Golden West Chapter for Their Story Signs – Connecting as a Community with People That Inspire us to Defeat ALS

We also celebrated the many years of service that the Executive Directors dedicated to their chapters at The Association with our annual Milestone Awards.

This year, the following Executive Directors celebrate five years of service (left to right): Lynn Aaronson - Massachusetts Chapter, Mary Wheelock - Northern Ohio Chapter, Merritt Spier - Western Pennsylvania Chapter and Taryn Norley – Arizona Chapter

Pam Rush-Negri from the Rocky Mountain Chapter celebrates her 10th year with The Association!

Nancy Feroldi from the Rhode Island Chapter celebrates her 20th year with The Association!

On the last day of our conference we traditionally hold our annual Heroes Award Luncheon, saving the most important awards for last. The ALS Association established the Hero Award as the highest award that we give out. It was established to recognize and pay tribute to people living with or who have lived with ALS and who have made “an indelible impact on The ALS Association and the community-at-large.” Those honored with the award have inspired the ALS community as they have promoted awareness of the disease and have sought to improve the lives of those with ALS.

Each chapter put together a beautiful video dedicated to each recipient and said a few words outlining the great impact each person has made to the ALS community. The 2017 Hero Award recipients are:

Stephen Winthrop, Massachusetts Chapter

Lynn Aaronson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Chapter, presented the award.

Clay Ahrens, MN/ ND/SD Chapter

Marianne Keuhn, Vice President of Care Services of the MN/ND/SD Chapter, presented the award to Clay.

Hilde Heard, Florida Chapter

Kim Hanna, Executive Director of the Florida Chapter, presented the award. Hilde could not join us to accept her award in person, but she was there in spirit. Below is her thank you message and video story.

Eric Amador, Golden West Chapter

Fred Fisher, Executive Director of the Golden West Chapter, presented the award to Eric.

Thank you to all the chapters for another successful conference! We wish everyone the best in the upcoming year for even more creative ideas, new collaborations, great friendships and a vision towards a future without ALS!

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