Everyone at the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to welcome K. Eric Larson as Executive Director, succeeding Kathy Matthews after her 17-year tenure in the role.
Eric’s career began in marketing communications and public relations, where his analytical and creative problem-solving skills allowed him to learn new areas quickly and comprehensively. He received numerous professional awards in the communications arena, including the IABC Spectra Award of Excellence and the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Golden Trumpet.
Eric’s nonprofit work began when he served on the board of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, but he became more involved when he did some volunteer marketing for the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois. “I’ve always enjoyed learning new issues and skills,” he said, but he got involved not knowing much about the topic. Once he began to meet the people affected by spinal cord injuries, though, he “learned very quickly how life can change for someone with a debilitating injury,” and was eager to do more for these people and their families.
He soon took over as executive director and CEO of National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), where he worked with the board to define and articulate a strategic vision for the organization and was responsible for all aspects of operations. He led the merger of NSCIA with United Spinal Association to form the nation’s largest membership organization focusing on the quality of life for people with paralysis.
A hobby musician himself, Eric played in his middle school and high school bands, first on trumpet, then switching to bass guitar. Music has always been a part of his life, and though he didn’t stick with performing, he recognizes now how those early studies “helped me to listen to and appreciate music differently.” He and his family all have wide-ranging tastes, from rock to opera.
“I’m really excited to welcome Eric to the EYSO community,” says Artistic Director Randal Swiggum. “I know he’s a natural fit for us and I’m already looking forward to see what new paths open up for EYSO, under his leadership.”
Just before joining EYSO, Eric was principal of Moving Mountains Advisors, helping nonprofits share and achieve their missions. Eric also currently serves board president of BACKBONES (a national nonprofit which helps people with spinal cord injury or disease and their families connect with their communities), president of the Northeast Neighborhood Association of Elgin (NENA), and chair of Elgin’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Welcome, Eric!