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Board Member Spotlight on David Newsom

Monday May 21, 2018

Hal, David, and Grace at the NWPF Walk for Parkinson's.

David Newsom is Chair of the NWPF Board of Directors. The youngest of four, David and his family grew up in the Seattle area; he doesn’t plan on leaving. After hours at his web design company, David gets active in the Pacific Northwestboth outdoors and across the Parkinson’s community.


BJC - Bette Jane Camp

DN - David Newsom

 

I would love to talk about your dad, Hal Newsom. His book, “HOPE”, is about living with Parkinson’s. It plays a big role in many people’s lives—including my family’s.

Good! It’s surprising how [often I hear] that “HOPE” in one way, shape, or form has touched people.

Especially when first diagnosedit’s so scary. Oftentimes, there aren’t many great resources immediately available. The diagnosing doctor may not be a specialist, and may not have all the answers. So it’s a little daunting, and to feel that there might be hope is a good thing.

My dad wrote that book fairly early in his career of Parkinson’s, so to speak. [He writes] that you’ve gotta get that knowledge: see the specialist, get that expertise. But also exercise, learn to be an advocate for yourself, find the resources. You realize that it’s a tough disease, but that a diagnosis doesn’t mean doom. Depending on your age of diagnosis, you can have many years of great life ahead of you.

 

Did you initially join the NWPF board of directors because of your dad’s diagnosis of and relationship with Parkinson’s?

Yeah, that's fair to say. My folks were involved in the Parkinson’s community since about day one of his diagnosis.

Then my dad had one of his brainstorm ideas: the Speak Up app. I started working with him and NWPF in creating the app. I got to know the staff, the organization; that was my entre into learning more about NWPF. Later, I was invited to join the board.

I’d never been on a board before! (laughs) I didn’t know what it meant, or what the commitment was. But it’s been a great experience. And I’ve learned a lot: about myself, the organization, and the Parkinson’s community. Including the ways we’re doing things right and areas where we can improve.

I didn’t just join the board to follow in the footsteps of my dad or carry on his legacy. I’m trying to make some advancements, to help in every way that I can. Not just going through the motions.


Can you share one of your goals for NWPF, or something you really like that’s going on now?

I really like that we’re attempting to reach a broader geographic [area]. We’ve got a great organization [at Inland Northwest], in Spokane. We’re developing a really strong reach in Boise, with the upcoming walk and HOPE event.

So, we need to make extra effort to cover that ground. We can do that in all kinds of ways. To meet people’s individual needs makes a big difference.

That’s one of the things I’m most excited about.

I’ve also become really aware of just how fantastic the staff is. Super energetic, passionate, extremely intelligent, and really dedicated to the cause. That’s huge—that’s another thing I’m really excited about.


As a business owner, too, that level of commitment from a staff must mean a lot to you.

It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of what you do: “This is how we go about business.”

But when you realize you’re touching people’s lives, and that you can make an impact, that changes the dynamics. Because, then, it’s not just a mechanism, not just a machine. It’s people. It’s connections, learning, and growing. And evolving!

We’re always finding new ways for people with Parkinson’s to [engage].


Does the NWPF board of directors sense that energy, and have it as well?

Absolutely. We’ve been working a lot on mission, and values, and where we’re going from here. To interact with the staff, and to learn the stories of people with Parkinson’sabsolutely it’s energizing.


In terms of NWPF, have you had any particular idea on your mind lately?

It brings me back to my dad. He was a big proponent of something he called the sky rocket. A big idea.

And that’s actually how the HOPE conference got initiated: “Okay, we need to have a big impact.” Same with the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care center.

We’ve got some really exciting things going on, lots of projects across communities. And maybe that’s the sky rocket! Maybe it’s a shift: we’re bringing that big information of the HOPE conference to localized levels.

Sky rockets are hard to come by. But we’re always looking for the next one: “What is the way that we can have the most and dramatic impact on people’s lives?”

My dad was an ad man. Gotta have the headline, that tagline, that punch! It’s a great metaphor, and it’s true. It works.


If you could have any job, including the one you have, what would you do?

I work at a web design company—I sit at a computer all day long. So on the weekends I go home and I’m banging hammers and working on projects. If I could do anything, I’d work with my hands. I’d build things.

-

As a father, business owner, and Chair of NWPF Board of Directors, David is a builder. He draws on life’s innate creativity. In and out of Parkinson’s, he makes sky rockets.



Bette Jane Camp
NWPF Blogger

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