Thomas Galizia

Daily Point of Light # 3820 Sep 24, 2008

“No” is not an answer Tom Galizia understands. When he wants something done, he finds a way to get it done. It is this tenacity and drive that have helped to put his work on behalf of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in a class all its own. Under his leadership, Deloitte’s support of the organization has gone from a de-centralized effort driven by a few passionate individuals across the country, to a well-organized team of professionals lending their business skills, physical abilities and financial support to drive unprecedented results for the organization and those it serves.

Although he has always valued the importance of community service, Tom’s true passion was sparked by some devastating news he received in 2003. A childhood friend in her twenties had passed away from complications of Multiple Sclerosis. The news ignited Tom’s deep and lasting commitment to help the National MS Society drive cutting-edge research for prevention, treatment and, ultimately, a cure. As he often says when discussing his devotion to the cause, “there was no real reason she was dealt those cards and I was dealt a different set. This is a disease that could impact any one of us.”

Tom immediately began working to raise funds for the organization, but knew he could be doing more. So he joined the National MS Society Northern California board. In this role, Tom helped to significantly grow participation in the annual Bike MS ride and increase interest and financial support for the cause. Not more than three years after coming on board, Tom’s efforts to galvanize support within Deloitte helped to grow the company’s participation in the local race from 10 to 80 cyclists, increasing their financial contribution from $18,000 to $60,000 in 2007! As a result, the 2007 Bay Area ride was able to raise a total of $1.3 million, breaking the million dollar mark for the first time in its history.

Although helping to grow the MS Ride was a priority for Tom, it still wasn’t enough. As a professional services organization, Deloitte’s greatest asset is its intellectual capital. As such, Tom felt that the best way for the company to make a significant impact would be to use the business skills of its people to help the local MS Society chapter operate more efficiently and effectively.

He began using IMPACT Day, Deloitte’s organization-wide annual day of volunteering, as an opportunity to lead skills-based volunteer projects with his local MS Society chapter. From conducting a review of the organization’s operations  to working on the relocation process for their chapter headquarters, Tom’s IMPACT Day project teams made it their mission to do for the MS Society what they would do for any business client; build a high-performing company that gets results.

However, even with all of the outcomes Tom was helping to achieve, he knew that his personal commitment on a local level was no match for what could be achieved with the strength of all Deloitte’s US Firms behind him. So, he began investigating Deloitte’s nationwide involvement with the MS Society. At the time, 146 Deloitte employees in eight offices across the country were riding on Bike MS teams and had raised $51,462. In addition, he learned that there were 12 Deloitte Partners/Directors/Senior Managers sitting on local MS Society boards nationwide.

Armed with this information, he took it upon himself to “rally the troops,” calling a national meeting of all the Deloitte professionals serving on local MS Society boards in 2006. Together, the group worked to hone their objectives and brainstorm more effective ways to gain visibility for the cause and leverage Deloitte in their support.

Putting MS in competition with all the other causes garnering the attention and support of his colleagues across the country was no easy feat. But, as Tom would say, “you have to bulldog it to make it happen.” And, that is exactly what he and his national team of MS Society supporters did.

Working to build senior leadership commitment and client support, Tom and his team actively found ways to demonstrate the business benefits of supporting the MS Society. From helping to design Bike MS jerseys that would reflect the Deloitte brand in communities across the country to tying the rides in with Deloitte’s Health & Fitness movement to building a nationwide community of team captains; they worked tirelessly to gain buy-in for the campaign.

In the end, all of their hard work paid off. From 2003 to 2007, Deloitte’s nationwide participation in Bike MS has gone from eight teams (146 riders) to 28 teams (616 riders), raising their financial contribution to the MS Society from $51,462 to $333,946. As a result, in 2007, Deloitte was the first professional services organization to receive the Corporate Star Award, the MS Society’s highest honor.

In the end, what began for Tom as a heartfelt interest inspired by the loss of a friend, has grown into an all-encompassing passion to find a cure for a disease that affects millions. As he would say “It started for her, but as soon as you become a light for someone around an issue, you become a beacon that attracts others.”

Now Chairman of his local MS Society board and an advisor to the national board, Tom campaigns for all of the people he knows with MS, and continues to look for new ways to grow Deloitte’s national support. While “MS” now stands for Multiple Sclerosis, Tom’s ultimate goal is to one day change that definition into “Mission Solved.” And based on his unique brand of energy, collaborative spirit and boundless perseverance, he may well find a way to make that happen.

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