Director of Communications
The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association
As director of communications for The ALS Association, Greg provides a spectrum of communication support including managing publications, celebrity involvement, radio and television public service announcements and audio visual programs. The Association is the only national organization solely dedicated to the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an aggressive neurodegenerative disease that typically causes death within two to five years. There is no known cause, almost no effective treatments and no cure. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after baseball great Lou Gehrig who was afflicted with the disorder.
Before joining The ALS Association, Greg worked in various positions in aerospace, consumer and industrial electronics. He has won national and local awards for TV and radio commercials, industrial videos, films, audio visual presentations and print advertising. He has served as a director on the Los Angeles Southwest College Foundation Board, the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce and the Workforce Investment Board. A member of IABC since 1992, Greg has also worked on a variety of committees and served as a judge of the IABC Gold Quill Awards and chapter award competitions.
Greg lives in the Los Angeles area with his architect wife, Ann and their two canine companions, Penny and Ogden (Oggie) Nash Cash. Oggie was named for the poet Ogden Nash because he was born on Nash’s 100th birthday.
Q: How did you get interested in non-profits?
A: While I was working in aerospace, I became more involved in charitable organizations on a professional level since I was managing corporate employee communications and community relations. I also got more involved on a personal level. I worked with such organizations as California Literacy Council, United Way, Special Olympics, National Public Radio, LA Works, Breast Cancer, March of Dimes, LA Food Bank and American Liver Foundation. This pointed me toward a career in the non-profit sector.
Q: What are the differences between working at a non-profit organization and a for-profit company? What are the pluses and minuses of working at a non-profit?
A: The main difference in working for a non-profit as opposed to a corporation is that success is not just defined by profit. Believe me, creating profit is extremely important in the non-profit world, but profits are not the ultimate goal. In the case of Lou Gehrig’s disease, helping people with ALS and their families through funding research and increasing awareness in government and the general public is the real bottom line. When you lie in bed at night considering the day’s activities, it is satisfying to think that your efforts could be helping to make this world better than it was yesterday.
Q: Is working in communications the same at a non-profit as it is at a for-profit company?
A: The function of communications in a corporation is very similar to that of a non-profit. Sharing information, motivating actions, and translating ideas into tangible communications are among the activities. In both environments, efficiency and economy are important, but there is perhaps more pressure to control the perception of the cost of producing communications in the non-profit world. Creating communications that produce results is a goal, as is managing budgets; however, non-profit communications usually need to appear inexpensive, but must still be effective. When a person is donating to a cause, they don’t want to think their money is being spent on flashy brochures. On the other hand, an organization’s communications should also reflect a professionally-run operation. It’s a fine line, but an important one.
Q: How has IABC enriched your career?
A: IABC-LA has been a valuable resource for furthering my education and staying up with trends in communications. However, most importantly, it has afforded me the opportunity to meet and maintain relationships with peers and industry professionals, who specialize in photography, printing, graphic arts, audience survey data gathering and analysis, as well as writing. Building relationships is a function of working on committees and attending seminars and social events sponsored by the chapter.
Q: How can members best take advantage of the IABC experience?
A: Attend chapter meetings and network with members and guests who attend these events. Because the Los Angeles area is so spread out and traffic being as it is, getting to meetings and gatherings can be difficult, but it is well worth the time and trouble. For newer members and seasoned communicators alike, I encourage everyone to take advantage of each opportunity to attend a chapter function. You will find that networking and sharing ideas will help you be more effective in your current position, and when the time comes to move to the next career opportunity, you will be very happy you made those trips across the city to attend chapter functions.
Q: Do you recommend attending the IABC International Conference?
A: The international conferences are a win, win, win proposition. You get to travel to great cities and meet people from around the world. I once met a dozen or so IABC strangers in the lobby of the conference hotel in New Orleans for an unhosted night on the town, and spent the evening getting to know people from several states and places like Sweden and South Africa. I still keep in touch with some of them today. You can also attend seminars where experts talk about the very issues you are dealing with in your job every day. You can learn how to make the best use of technology to enhance your job performance and your career opportunities. IABC has a lot to offer, and the more you get involved, the more you and your employer will benefit.