March 14, 2016 – Today, Samantha Villella was awarded the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society’s 2015 District Activist Leader of the Year award in Washington, DC. The District Activist Leader of the Year award is an annual distinction given to a volunteer within the District Activist Leader (DAL) program who has far exceeded its expectations and requirements. In doing so, Samantha has demonstrated a deep understanding of the Society’s advocacy priorities and has raised awareness for the MS movement by connecting with elected officials.
Samantha Villella is a public relations and marketing professional with more than 12 years of experience who is currently the Director of Member Engagement at The Lake Club in Poland, Ohio. However, over the years she has grown to include the titles of “MS activist” and “District Activist Leader” to her resume as well. In 2008, Samantha’s mother, Kathy (KV), was diagnosed with MS; and in 2014, her sister, Nikki, was diagnosed with MS as well. In 2009, the Villella Family began their participation in the Mahoning Valley MS Walk. Their affectionately named “KV’s Krew” Walk MS team has quickly became one of the most popular teams in Ohio.
In 2012, to raise additional funds and awareness, Samantha and her siblings created a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to support the National MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and The Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis. Since 2009, their five MS Walks and four fundraising dinners have raised more than $52,000 for MS research, education, and assistance for those with MS who are in financial need.
“My commitment to my mom, my sister, and all of those who have MS is that I will be their voice…I will be an MS activist. I plan to continue advocating and working with elected officials so that one day MS will be a thing of the past,” said Samantha.
“Over the past year, Samantha Villella has fostered key relationships by meeting in-district with her Senators and U.S. Representative, by cultivating friendships with key staff members, aiding Society efforts to better understand constituent relations, and by continually making those around her aware of opportunities to advocate for change,” said Karen Mariner, Vice President of State and Local Government Relations, National MS Society. “I know that the Society is a stronger force in both Ohio and on Capitol Hill because of Sam’s commitment to ending MS forever.”
Read more about the District Activist Leader program.