United Spinal Association and National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), two leading nonprofits with more than 125 years of combined service to the disability community, have recently announced their intended merger unifying resources to become the single, largest membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) nationwide.
The combined organization will significantly increase the membership base and will give all members access to a wide range of national programs and services, including an established community of local affiliates. Equally important will be the powerful, authentic consumer voice that the merger will provide at the national level.
Since 1946, United Spinal Association has been committed to protecting the rights of people with SCI/D through initiatives in advocacy and civil rights; government policy and legislation; disability travel; accessible building and universal design; publications; research and education; and wheelchair and assistive technology.
NSCIA–which educates and empowers people living with SCI/D to achieve and maintain the highest levels of independence, health and personal fulfillment–serves its members through a combination of national programs and a nationwide network of more than 60 chapters and support groups. NSCIA will continue to operate under its current name and brand, but will expand to become the membership arm of United Spinal Association.
United Spinal Association recently acquired the premier wheelchair lifestyle magazine New Mobility in fall of 2010, to provide the disability community unprecedented access to information, resources and opportunity.
“Together, our organizations can be a stronger advocate on behalf of our community and directly respond to the needs of our members,” says Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association. “United Spinal brings a legacy of public policy and advocacy on behalf of the community, and NSCIA brings greater direct access to the community through its chapters and public support networks.”
Tobin will continue in his capacity as president and CEO to lead the combined organization.
“Our national network of local affiliates will connect directly with our combined membership to significantly improve the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders,” adds K. Eric Larson, NSCIA executive director and CEO, who will take on additional responsibilities as senior vice president for membership and chapter services within United Spinal Association. “That’s what has always driven us, and that is the foundation upon which we are building,” Larson added.
United Spinal Association and NSCIA have successfully collaborated in key areas during the past three years. The organizations co-founded Spinal Cord Central, a web-based SCI/D resource center in 2008 and have been working to forward a common public policy agenda through Spinal Cord Advocates––their joint public policy initiative with a shared Washington, D.C.-based office. In 2007, United Spinal Association and NSCIA created the Spinal Cord Leaders Council, which is comprised of leaders from various organizations that advocate for, treat and conduct research on behalf of people with SCI/D.