Staff Spotlight: Tom Quash
Compassion & Choices welcomed the talented and dynamic Tom Quash as our new chief program and marketing officer at the end of 2018.
April 15, 2019
Tom Quash took a roundabout path to his latest role overseeing the broad programmatic and marketing efforts of Compassion & Choices. “I always loved to write,” he explains of his early days as an elementary school poet and comic book author, and later a print journalism major at Howard University. Tom then spent the early part of his career in book publishing with prestigious firms such as Simon and Schuster and the Walt Disney Company before transitioning into the world of national associations and nonprofits. For nine years prior to joining Compassion & Choices, he served as the vice president of marketing, communications and publications at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
The death of Tom’s mother-in-law in 2018 opened his eyes to end-of-life issues. “Her health had been failing for quite some time, and she had already gone through two surgeries that, in my opinion, did nothing except worsen her health,” Tom explained. “I remember being at my sister-in-law’s house, and my wife saying, ‘Mom always said she did not want to end up on life support.’ Her two sisters had opinions otherwise. But none of it was documented, so they didn’t know what to do.”
Tom also watched his grandfather struggle with dementia. “Luckily it wasn’t as severe as my great aunt’s, who suffered horribly before dying,” he says. “But back then, I didn’t know what an advance directive was. It opened my eyes, though.”
As one who still celebrates the impact of words, Tom feels strongly about the importance of stories to further our mission: “Some are heartbreaking; some are inspirational. Listening to our supporters’ testimonies at recent hearings, some are riveting. It brings tears to your eyes. You can make all the assumptions you want, but when you hear what an individual is facing, I think that’s really the power of the movement in collaboration with all we do as an organization. There will always be opposition, but I hope that becomes healthy dialogue and we can ensure everyone can access the end-of-life options that really match their principles and values. Nobody wants to see anyone suffer.”