We are very pleased to introduce you to Jim Wilgus, the new executive director for the Washington State Chapter. Jim first joined the Alzheimer’s Association in 2010 and is a long-time friend and ally to our chapter. In addition to his role as executive director locally, he’ll also be providing regional leadership to chapters in Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.
Here, we’ve asked him a few questions so you can get to know him better. Learn more about his background, passion for the cause and vision for the future. Please join us in offering Jim a warm welcome to the Washington State Chapter!
Tell us a little bit about your prior experience, both in the nonprofit sector and at the Alzheimer’s Association. What are you most proud of?
I have over 30 years of nonprofit experience in the voluntary health sector, and have been with the Alzheimer’s Association since 2010. I most recently served as regional leader for nine states across the western U.S. Prior to that, I was the Senior Field Director for the Chapter Relations team at our home office in Chicago. In that role, I served as a liaison to more than 45 chapters across the country. I also worked for the American Heart Association for nearly 20 years and the American Lung Association for several years. I’m most proud of the work I’ve done to grow and build numerous staff members over the years to be leaders in the sector, and the tremendous successes amassed in program outcomes, public policy success and significant revenue growth to support research and other aims of the associations I’ve worked with.
What drew you to the Alzheimer’s Association? Do you have a personal connection to the disease?
My grandmother passed away in October 2017 from the disease, and as her caregiver-from-afar, I witnessed this disease rob her of her ability to remember her own family. For years I worked at the American Heart Association, to help people mend hearts; Alzheimer’s disease breaks hearts—this is why I’m so committed to this cause, and why I fight for the people we serve today. I look forward to continuing my work in Washington State on deeper level, as we all hold hope for a treatment or medical breakthrough through research, for all of us for tomorrow.
What is your vision for the Washington State Chapter?
My vision is for the very successful chapter to continue being that—successful! Washington State is a leader not only in the Pacific Northwest, but in the entire organization, particularly in the depth of care and support services we provide throughout the state, but most notably in our efforts in public policy, both at the federal and state levels. That said, we have tremendous opportunities for growth in fundraising, expansion of our volunteer networks, interacting with medical and health systems in a broader and deeper way, and overall raising of the public concern about the disease throughout Washington State and Northern Idaho.
What do you want them to know about the Alzheimer’s Association?
The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest organization in the United States, dedicated to working towards and finding answers to this disease, and serving the people with the disease or other dementia, and their caregivers. We are the single-largest funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, just behind the U.S. and Chinese governments. Our vision is, quite simply, “A world without Alzheimer’s,” and we are working hard to meet a strategic vision set in 2015, to have a key medical breakthrough such as a treatment or therapy, to slow or cure the disease by 2025, in alignment with the goals of the U.S. government and many other countries abroad. And as good as all of these aims are, the organization can’t proceed without the engagement of local leaders from all aspects: community, civic, etc., and the engagement of volunteers from all spectrums of our communities in Washington State and Northern Idaho, to help us all in achieving that vision of “A world without Alzheimer’s.”