ASAE Senior VP of Public Policy Jim Clarke to Retire in January; Cunningham Named Successor

October 9, 2018

WASHINGTON – ASAE Senior Vice President of Public Policy Jim Clarke, CAE, has announced his decision to retire from his post at the end of January 2019 after more than 20 years of service to the organization.

Clarke, who came to ASAE in 1997 after a prestigious career on Capitol Hill, has overseen a public policy operation that has recorded numerous legislative and regulatory wins on behalf of ASAE and the association community. Most recently, Clarke led the charge to protect associations from several onerous tax changes originally proposed in last year’s tax code overhaul. On Sept. 20, Clarke was honored as CEO Update’s “Lobbyist of the Year” during the publication’s annual Association Leadership Awards luncheon.

“I’m very grateful to my mentors, staff, and family who have helped support me in my career throughout the years,” Clarke said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished on the advocacy front, and thankful for the many wonderful relationships I’ve developed through this role at ASAE. I believe strongly in ASAE’s purpose and in ensuring associations are at the table when policy decisions are being made. I know ASAE will continue to be that strong voice for association interests in the years ahead.”

Prior to his arrival at ASAE, Clarke served in numerous staff roles for now-retired Rep. William F. Clinger Jr. (R-PA), including chief of staff from 1988 to 1994. In 1995, he became staff director of the Government Reform and Management Committee where he managed operations of a 52-member committee and oversaw 75 staffers and seven subcommittees. 

“Jim has been an exceptional advocate for the association community over the years and has helped raise the profile of ASAE on Capitol Hill,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham, FASAE, CAE. “I want to personally thank Jim for his passionate defense of association interests and for helping to amplify ASAE’s voice in the political process. We are working to ensure a smooth transition for our advocacy team when Jim departs early next year.”

ASAE has named Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, currently senior director of public policy, to lead the Public Policy team as vice president starting in January 2019. Cunningham has been integral to ASAE’s efforts in tax reform and in combating threats to voluntary certification around the country. She also led ASAE’s efforts to fight discriminatory legislation in the states and to protect federal employee attendance at association meetings. 

Prior to joining ASAE, Cunningham worked in Congress at the House Armed Services Committee and for the Federation of American Scientists. She serves as a member of the Tax Coalition and the American Ireland Funds Young Leaders Society. In 2013 she received the "Up and Coming Practitioner" award from the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference.

“It’s a dynamic time in the association community right now, but it’s not without its policy challenges. I’m eager to work with ASAE members across the country and amplify The Power of A message. The voice of association leaders is more important than ever,” Cunningham said.

“I have worked with Mary Kate for nearly six years and feel strongly she possesses the skill sets that are vital to direct ASAE’s public policy operation,” said Graham. “She has the leadership, policy, and communication tools that make her a natural for the position. Importantly, she is passionate and committed to volunteer involvement.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sabrina Kidwai, APR, CAE, 202-326-9505. ASAE Twitter: @ASAECenter.

About ASAE
ASAE is a membership organization of more than 44,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Its members lead, manage, and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. Together, they create a vibrant community that makes the world smarter, safer, and better every day. 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. Visit ASAE at