From the CEO: Planning with the End Result in Mind

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DawnMancusoI love to garden, so nothing excites me quite like the change of weather that accompanies the advent of spring. After such a long, cold and wet winter this year, I think I was looking forward to the season even more than usual.

Now, most gardeners will tell you that one of the secrets to a successful garden – whether the harvest you are looking for is composed of vegetables or flowers – is some advance planning: preparing the soil, deciding what to plant, choosing whether to start with seeds or seedlings, determining which plants to put in the shade vs. full sun, planning how far apart to set the plants, and setting (and sticking to) a regimen of care (watering, weeding, feeding, etc.).

Running a non-profit like the Hydrocephalus Association takes the same kind of thoughtful planning. The environment is different – and the decisions to be made take a different focus – so I don’t want to get carried away with the metaphor. No jokes here about how to make the best compost! But the concept of first thinking strategically about the desired outcome, and working back to the details about how to get that outcome, are the same.

HA’s leadership – especially the Board of Directors and Staff – agree with this concept and have been working diligently on the development of a well-considered Strategic Plan that will drive a lot of the organization’s work over the next five years and will assure that our donors’ contributions are being put to the best possible use. The outcome identified is called the “Vision” in strategic planning parlance (meaning the vision of how the world will be different by the association meeting its mission). We are proud to share our new Vision:

Our vision is a future without hydrocephalus.

This new Vision will stretch the organization and all involved with the association to add the pursuit of a cure to our already monumental goal of finding better treatments for the condition.

Next, the HA leadership reinforced our commitment to the entire hydrocephalus community by defining the role we wanted the association to play in attaining this Vision:

The mission of the Hydrocephalus Association is to promote a cure for hydrocephalus and improve the lives of those affected by the condition.
We will accomplish this by collaborating with patients, caregivers, researchers and industry, raising awareness, and funding innovative, high-impact research to prevent, treat and ultimately cure hydrocephalus.

How will we accomplish this formidable Mission and Vision? Through a series of strategies and tactics being employed by HA’s very active committees, each of which will work on one or two of the following Strategic Objectives:

Each of these Strategic Objectives has a series of what we call Measurable Results (or the bounty we hope to harvest once all the planning, planting/implementing, and tending are done).

How will we meet these Strategic Objectives and Measurable Results? That’s where HA’s committees and volunteers come in. Each committee is actively developing a series of multi-year plans to direct its initiatives.

At the end of the process, after all the thought, effort and seemingly endless discussions, what we have is a strong and clear direction – our Roadmap to a Cure that will serve to guide and inspire everyone along the way.

You can get involved!

What the HA leadership has laid out in our Roadmap is an aggressive plan to make things better for all affected by hydrocephalus. But the hard part is still to come – we need to implement this plan and deliver on the objectives. This work must involve everyone at all levels of the organization – from the board room to the medical clinic to the local community network.

We are always looking for volunteers willing to dedicate themselves for at least several hours each month; if you have the time, a set of pertinent skills, and a strong interest in one of these Strategic Initiatives mentioned above, we welcome your participation on one of our committees and task forces. Simply send an email to, indicating which subject area interests you and why.

The future holds much promise if we work together, follow a plan, and unite for a cure.

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