More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Pat Knoerle-Jordan devotes work to MS sufferers

President, Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

August 10, 2001 print edition
Amy Sieckmann

Passion, commitment to people with multiple sclerosis and their families, and organization are what Pat Knoerle-Jordan, 44, said have made her the president of the Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

These qualities are a must when running a non-profit business with a dedicated staff of 26 and more than 1,200 volunteers over a 90-county area, she said.

Her colleagues say it is her ability to discover and infuse this passion into others that has made her so influential in other people's lives.

"She has this way about her that connects with people," said Kathy O'Brien, president of the Alzheimer's Association. "The kinds of people she recruits are very fine professionals for her volunteer and leadership projects. So that makes a difference in the society. Her non-profit leadership knowledge has also influenced other non-profit leaders, both locally and nationally."

The connections with people who have multiple sclerosis and their families are what Knoerle-Jordan said have made the biggest impact in her life and are the main reasons she has made this her career.

"Meeting with people with MS, learning their needs and planning programs to meet those needs is at the forefront of my job," she said. "Then I turn to fund raising and become the spokesperson. Our mission is to provide hope, resources and the greatest possible independence for people with MS and their families. The best part of my job is when our clients tell us they are able to achieve things or manage their disease with greater confidence than before they went to our programs or called our helpline to seek information."

Knoerle-Jordan has been president of the Gateway Chapter since 1990, but she has a 21-year history with the organization. Knoerle-Jordan first got started on this career path during college when she started working for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and continued in it after graduation. She later joined the national staff of the Multiple Sclerosis Society before she started her work specifically with the Gateway Chapter. During her time as president, she has introduced programs for families dealing with MS and fund-raisers that have spread nationwide, said Jacquelyn Dezort, chairman of the board for the local MS Society chapter and managing director at Banc of America Capital Management.

In the last five years, campaign income increased 105 percent, and the local chapter is expecting to reach $3 million in income in fiscal 2001.

Some well-known fund-raising events include the MS Walk, the Sports Celebrity Dinner and the MS 150 Bike Tour. The MS 150 is in its 16th year and is expected to raise about $900,000 this year with about 2,000 riders, Knoerle-Jordan said.

A new idea that was started through her efforts is the MS Corporate Achievers program. Although only five years old, the program is one of the society's most successful events.

"When I first heard about it, it sounded amazing to me," Dezort said. "We have raised more than $1 million with it, which allows us to fund more research and services for people with MS and their families."

Corporate Achievers is sponsored by businesses, including the St. Louis Business Journal. Individuals are nominated to be honorees by the society's advisory council. Each corporate achiever implements a special gift campaign.

Jordan's connections with other area leaders and businesspeople also have been a benefit to the society, as well.

Knoerle-Jordan also is involved in Focus St. Louis leadership program, a training program that exposes business leaders to different aspects of local government and the for-profit and not-for-profit businesses.