Greetings from ASAE! I’ve completed my first 90-days since I took over as president and CEO of ASAE and I could not be more energized. I’ve had the pleasure of engaging with many ASAE members, volunteers, partners, consultants and other stakeholders to determine how ASAE can best serve the association community at such a critical time of change and opportunity.
I want to thank those of you I’ve had the chance to speak with directly and let you know that we are continuing to listen to this community and adjusting our thinking and operational planning in response. ASAE’s new three-year strategy, which is grounded in deepening member engagement and strengthening the overall value proposition for our community, is continually evolving based on market conditions and the feedback you share with us. Our key focus is driving value for you, our stakeholders.
Just a couple of weeks ago, ASAE held its 2021 Leaders’ Retreat and November Board meeting in Cleveland. In attendance were 140+ key ASAE stakeholders, including all Board members, from ASAE, the ASAE Research Foundation, ABSI and the ASAE Insurance Company; chairs and vice-chairs of our many committees, councils and task forces; DELP scholars; and staff. The purpose of the Leaders’ Retreat has always been to engage ASAE’s volunteer leaders and other invited stakeholders in conversations about the future of ASAE, and to gain insights and feedback on challenges facing ASAE. This year, we focused on how ASAE’s volunteer structure and the volunteer experience can be enhanced in support of ASAE’s strategic plan. We also wanted to explore opportunities to engage more members as volunteers.
The day-and-a-half retreat was energizing and productive and will pay huge dividends for ASAE now and down the road as the strategic plan gets more fully implemented. Our goal is to build an even more inclusive culture that we can be proud of and that will benefit all ASAE stakeholders moving forward. As we have an opportunity to debrief and incorporate what we learned into our planning processes, we are confident you will see enhanced opportunities for engagement with your professional home, ASAE.
The ASAE Board also had a very productive meeting in Cleveland, and some promising discussions that will inform the future direction of ASAE. During the meeting, the Board expressed unanimous support for ASAE’s new Conscious Inclusion strategy, which has far-reaching implications for both ASAE and its members’ associations. This strategy will help organizations unlock the full potential of a diverse workforce and membership. In the weeks ahead, you will start to see ASAE’s Conscious Inclusion strategy reflected in new product and service lines designed to meet you and your organizations wherever you are on your DEI journey. We are committed to intentional representation and a sense of belonging across ASAE.
The Board also approved moving forward with Association Insights Center, which is a holistic “data strategy” concept based on gathering timely market intelligence, distilling rich insights and fostering impactful community conversations. Working with McKinley Advisors, ASAE will engage a steering committee of leaders to develop a focused research agenda for 2022 that includes an in-depth investigation of two of the most essential topics on association executives’ minds: the “future of meetings,” and “associations’ return to work.”
As we look ahead on the ASAE events calendar, we have our Technology Exploration Conference taking place Dec. 13-16. This is a hybrid conference with both a virtual component and an in-person offering in Washington, DC. After an entirely virtual meeting last year, we’re excited to give our members and partners the opportunity to engage in either the in-person program or virtual (or both). The goal is to make it easier for anyone to participate by choosing a pathway that fits their needs.
With ASAE’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Exposition scheduled to take place in person in Nashville next August, we also have new opportunities in the works to support experiential learning at ASAE meetings for association professionals with limited resources. Thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from Ross E. Heller and his late wife Anne Daly Heller, founders and publishers of USAE weekly newspaper, the ASAE Research Foundation is developing the USAE Scholars Fund, which will award $15,000 annually to scholarship fund applicants who would otherwise have financial difficulty attending an ASAE meeting. The USAE Scholars Fund will be developed over the next several months with the inaugural class of scholars announced at the 2022 ASAE Annual Meeting in Nashville.
These are just some of the changes taking place at ASAE to meet the changing needs of the association community. ASAE’s new strategy and my leadership priorities are all oriented around member responsiveness and service. Everything we do at ASAE is intended to help association leaders be more effective as they navigate uncertainty. My vision is that, by 2023, ASAE will have returned to full financial health and be known in the association space as the primary resource for advocacy, cutting edge practices, innovations and programs that elevate the community.
Thank you for your involvement with ASAE, and I look forward to sharing more updates on our progress with you in the near future. Stay well and I wish you much continued success!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE
President & CEO