ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition Offered Strategies for Organizational Growth, Managing One’s Career

August 18, 2017

WASHINGTON— More than 4,500 association professionals and industry partners gathered in Toronto, August 12–15, for the 2017 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition. Participants listened to keynotes by Nilofer Merchant and Chef Jeff Henderson, participated in more than 120 education sessions, five game changers, and a packed expo hall with close to 400 companies.

The final attendance breakdown: 2,484 executives, 1,758 exhibitors, 343 others, including guests, spouses, press, vendors, and staff, for a grand total of 4,585. A total of 395 companies representing 676 booths exhibited in the expo hall, which resulted in a strong ratio of 59 percent buyers (association staff) to 41 percent sellers (industry partners).

“Both keynotes were outstanding and our members were inspired by their insight and stories. Nilofer Merchant stressed the importance that stressed the importance of understanding and embracing the fact that everyone can have new ideas and contribute to innovation, progress and economic growth. Chef Jeff Henderson cooked live on stage and shared his perspectives on the importance of leadership, values, and understanding that the most important moments in life is where inspiration happens,” said ASAE President & CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE.

Merchant kicked off the meeting as the opening keynote. She discussed the importance of embracing “onlyness” as a key approach to making ideas powerful enough to dent the world. Challenging participants to reject behaviors that spotlight otherness, she observed that associations are in a unique position to bring “onlys” together through belonging. She asked people to think about what’s unique and inspires them and embrace it to form meaningful relationships with others around that same identity. Creative ideas will spread through networks, collaboration, and co-creation instead of hierarchies. 

For the closing keynote, Chef Jeff Henderson did a cooking demonstration on stage while sharing his personal journey of redemption—from imprisoned drug dealer to executive chef at several top restaurants to award-winning television personality. His said you need to focus on building relationships because it leads to opportunities. He encouraged attendees to enhance their cultural intelligence in order to better attract and develop employees from different backgrounds and illustrated the business case for diversity on teams. 

ASAE presented five game changers: Major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, Purple Heart-decorated Air National Guard combat pilot and Texas Congressional candidate; Daniel Lerner, Psychology Professor at New York University and author of U Thrive; Luvvie Ajayi, celebrity blogger at and executive director of The Red Pump Project; Nyle Dimarco, Deaf Activist and winner of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars; and Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project.

ASAE raised $27,231 for two charities: the Royal Canadian Legion and the Toronto Humane Society. 

Next year’s ASAE Annual Meeting will be in Chicago, August 18–21, at the McCormick Place West Building. 

ASAE thanks the following Alliance Partners for their continued support of the association community:

Strategic Partners
Atlanta CVB
Business Events Canada
Choose Chicago
Experience Columbus 
Community Brands
Reno Tahoe USA
Visit San Jose

Corporate Partners
Visit Baltimore
DelCor Technology Solutions
Visit Dallas 
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB 
Fort Worth CVB 
Louisville CVB 
Mexico Tourism Board 
Naylor Association Solutions
Visit Omaha 
Visit Orlando 
Visit Salt Lake

Event Partners
Advanced Solutions International
The Broadmoor 
Dubai Association Centre 
Hong Kong Tourism Board 
Johnson Lambert LLP and Vault Consulting 
Korea Tourism Organization 
Meet In Minnesota 
New Orleans CVB and New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

MEDIA CONTACT: Sabrina Kidwai, APR, CAE, 202-326-9505

About ASAE and the ASAE Foundation
ASAE is a membership organization of more than 39,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Its members manage leading trade associations, individual membership societies and voluntary organizations across the United States and in nearly 50 countries around the world. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession, and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more information about ASAE, visit