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Reflections on ֱ Being 50

By Steve Smith

For 50 years, ֱ has helped associations “Achieve What You Believe.” It all started in 1974, when Art and Dagny Engle followed a hunch and created a business plan.

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Leading the Future in 2023

By ֱ

Throughout the past year, leaders at all levels from within ֱ have been busy sharing their expertise to help advance the association profession and contribute to the association community. Here’s a look back at blog posts, interviews, articles, and sessions from the past year.

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10 Tips for Success for Incoming CEOs

By Katherine Wayne

Transitioning to a new role as a CEO or executive director (ED) of an association can be challenging. What steps should you take to prepare for your new role and how do you ensure success from Day 1 and beyond?

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Ethics and Event Locations

By Dave Bergeson and Stephanie Dylkiewicz

Selecting the ideal location for your conference or event can be difficult, but in recent years social justice, equality, and political issues have emerged that have made the decision even more challenging.

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Top 25 Blog Posts by Women Thought Leaders at ֱ

By ֱ

Little did we think when we started our blog in 2015 that 8 years later we’d have published more than 242 posts written by thought leaders from nearly every corner of ֱ. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, one thing you may have noticed is that the majority of our thought leader contributors are women.

This year—in honor of Women’s History Month—we’ve compiled a list of the 25 blog posts by women thought leaders that resonated the most. If you’re looking for insights on association management; conferences and events; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); governance; marketing and membership; and professional development, check out these posts.

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Past Presidents: Friends, Foes, or Both?

By Mark Engle and Dave Bergeson

 “We have had great experiences with our past presidents. The expectations of what happens after service on the board is well understood and most past presidents don't get involved or try to influence after they have served.” — CEO of a large professional society

“I just don’t understand it. I would expect that of all people, our past presidents, who worked so hard, and gave so much, would be invested and supportive of moving the association forward. Instead, they are being obstructive, feel entitled, and are a source of constant headaches.” — CEO of a large professional society

These are actual quotes from real association executives, speaking on their very different experiences with the past presidents* of their association or society.

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Does Your Governance Structure Support Your Values?

By Erin Volland

An association has been in the news in recent weeks, and not in the way that an association (or any organization) wants to be in the news. This association is an example of when bylaws, policies, procedures, traditions, and culture are not thoughtfully aligned.

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Governance Change: Run It Like a Communications and Political Campaign

By Erin Volland

Association governance change is fraught with the wall of membership or House of Delegates (HOD) approval. A task force spends months working on a strategic governance issue, researching solutions, gathering data, and reviewing leading practices before presenting their recommendations to the board.  After a healthy discussion, the board approves the recommendations. In some cases, the board can then amend the bylaws and staff are then able to implement the change in their procedures.

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Looking for Revenue in Plain Sight

By Wendy-Jo Toyama

Balancing a mission-driven board while ensuring financial sustainability for the association can be a challenge during the best of economic times. But add in a pandemic and ever-increasing inflation, and it can seem like an insurmountable uphill climb.

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Board and Staff Relationships: For Better or For Worse?

By ֱ

Like many relationships in life, the board-staff relationship can be really great, with the board and staff working as a cohesive and collaborative team. Or, they can be more challenged, potentially leading to feelings of distrust and disillusionment and suboptimal performance.

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DEI for Leaders: Creating a Learning, Evolving Culture

By Debbie Trueblood, MSW IOM CAE

Many associations have recently begun their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) journeys, or double downed on their DEI efforts in significant ways. This has been a long time coming and is an important evolution of the value associations bring to our industries and professional communities.

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Easy DEI Week Events that Engage and Inform

By Katherine Wayne

This past week ֱ celebrated our second annual diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) week. Though DEI is a focus all year long, DEI Week gives us the chance to participate in multiple events each day to celebrate what makes us all unique, take a deeper dive into learning about DEI and fostering an inclusive culture, and step away from our day to day to have some fun.

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Remembering General Colin Powell

By Steve Smith

Colin Powell, a retired four-star general, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, died earlier last week at the age of 84, leaving an important legacy of leadership.

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How Associations Turned the Lemon of a Pandemic into  Lemonade

By Katherine Wayne

Since March of 2020, association board leaders have been confronted with leadership challenges that few could have anticipated when elected to serve in volunteer positions. From conference cancellations, member distress, and financial uncertainty, to virtual meetings, burnout, and even grief, association boards and staff have to lead differently.

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Motion to Dismiss: Robert’s Rules of Order in Board of Directors’ Meetings

By Dave Bergeson, PhD CAE

It happened again. I was participating in a board of directors’ meeting and directors were discussing a critical issue. Discussion was flowing. Directors were offering good ideas, observations, and opinions, and suddenly everything stopped. This board was trying to run their board meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order, and one of the directors had just made not one, but two motions, one of which he explained “...was a main motion and the other one a subsidiary motion.” 

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Why Every Association Needs an Editor

By Danielle Leber

Excellent editorial work is invisible to readers, but errors are not

I often joke that to be an editor is to have an invisible profession—after all, the editor’s role is only apparent to everyone else when it is done poorly.

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Don’t Lose Sight of the Benefits of Virtual Staff Meetings

By Katherine Wayne

You hear a lot about “Zoom fatigue” these days and the draining effects of being on video meetings for hours a day. As offices in our area consider reopening and ending capacity limitations, some are relishing the novelty of being able to return to holding meetings in person with their teams and staff. “Teams need to be together in person to truly connect” is often cited as a reason for returning to in-person meetings. Do people connect better in person? Sometimes. Do in-person meetings create an inclusive and equitable space? Not for everyone.

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The Case for Permanent Virtual Participation in Leadership Meetings: Maintaining Diversity & Accessibility

By Erin Volland

Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, highlighted a tweet in her March newsletter that helped to further articulate one of the troubling reasons about the possible move back to in-person meetings. The tweet referenced how disabled people have been asking for years for remote conferences so they can participate and how they have been told no, it’s too difficult to do, at least until the pandemic made remote events a necessity for everyone.  In her newsletter, Priya challenges us to “build our gatherings around the needs and insights of the marginalized.”

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4 Lessons Learned Through Co-Authoring

By Wendy-Jo Toyama

In 2017, I approached Mark Engle, DM FASAE CAE, Association Management Center (ֱ) principal to learn about the board selection process (BSP) research that he and Professor William Brown, PhD, Busch School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University had conducted. The research explored board competencies and processes that lead to exceptional and high-functioning board of directors.

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5 Virtual Meeting Lessons Learned

By Katherine Wayne

2020 was defined by many things—for associations and the staff who support them, the ability to pivot and adapt to the unforeseen were top among them. As 2020 began, ֱ staff were busy preparing for the typical  20+ events we manage each year for our association partners.

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Rocking the Boat: A Shift to a Competency-Based Board During  a Pandemic

By Erin Volland

According to recent industry data, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already in the works (). Will advancing towards a competency-based board be part of this trend? The pandemic has certainly forced many associations to review their volunteer leadership structure, particularly around their decision-making process and the distribution of authority to make key, timely decisions. 

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What You Learn with a Career Change

By Julie Rogers

In my last post, I explained how I entered the association sphere after a career in newspaper journalism. I learned a lot with this career shift and have a few tips that can apply to anyone starting a new job or switching industries.

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How did I get here? ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’

By Julie Rogers

How did I get here? It’s been a beautiful combination of hard work and sheer luck, to be honest.

As a senior content marketing and editorial manager in the Creative Media Services (CMS) department at ֱ, I work with our association partners on a wide variety of projects, including managing the  production of traditional print products, such as postcards and meeting brochures; writing feature articles and crafting marketing messaging; and assisting my colleagues with client-specific knowledge as they work on search engine optimization (SEO), analtyics, and others services that aren’t quite in my wheelhouse.

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Finding Inspiration in RBG’s Legacy

By Steve Smith

2020 feels like a year filled with an excessive amount of hardship, loss, and grief.

When I heard about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday evening, I gasped and my heart sank. I knew her cancer had returned, but she always seemed to bounce back. Perhaps I was buoyed by the images of her morning workouts that are famously featured in the documentary The Notorious RBG and forever etched in my mind. She seemed eternally and unusually resilient.

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4 Strategies for Engaging and Retaining Members During COVID-19

By Molly Anderson, Meg Drumm, Chris Ocampo, and Caryn Odenbach

2020 is not business as usual…2021 looks scary, too.

Members are the lifeblood of associations and ֱ clients. As association professionals, we’re here to serve them, and our bottom lines depend on their support through dues payments, meeting registrations, and product sales. So, when a global pandemic and a recession challenge those goals, how can we keep up?

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Empowering Women in Association Management

By Megan Toal

In her Conversations by Association , Marilyn Jansen, ֱ’s executive director of business development, discusses her mentoring relationship with former coworker Lindsey Nelson, CAE, and also recalls how finding female mentors was greatly different when she was just starting her career.

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7 Tips for Better Productivity

By Katherine Wayne

Like many offices, ֱ transitioned to a fully remote work environment back in March. I was happy about the change and envisioned sailing through my to-do list each day and checking off all of those lingering tasks I’d been meaning to finish. After all, I’d been very productive working from home 1 day a week for years.

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Stop! Grammar Time

By Megan Toal

At ֱ, our Creative Media Services (CMS) team includes 8 editors who take great pride in correct grammar, following style guides, and beautifully worded phrases. You may have seen earlier posts on grammar faux pas and misused words, but in this age of digital communication—which is especially augmented now that many offices will continue to work remotely and organizations are taking great care to communicate their plans, intent, and social justice stances—it remains even more critical to effectively communicate what we are trying to say. At best, you avoid embarrassment, and at worst, you avoid a public scandal.

We have gathered the CMS editorial team’s top grammar blunders. We’ll break it down for you, so stop! It’s grammar time.

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Don’t Burn the Furniture, Please

By Dave Bergeson, PhD, CAE

It would be cliché and perhaps too obvious to say that for nonprofits and associations, this year is unlike any other. And yet, here we are. Most of our in-person conferences have been cancelled. Many, if not most, of us are implementing virtual meetings and conferences. Our traditional forms of content delivery and revenue streams have been disrupted.

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14 Best Practice Tips for Association Book Publishing

By Bryan O'Donnell

I have loved books ever since I was a kid. It’s more than simply the act of reading—I enjoy the tangible feel of books, the cover design. I have way too many books at home, and it’s kind of a problem.

However, that love for books has translated into a passion for the act of publishing books. As a managing editor on ֱ’s Creative Media Services (CMS) team, I have helped manage the publication of six healthcare-related books, and I’m currently managing two other book projects.

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“Let’s Take This Online”: 5 Ways to Smoothly Plan a Virtual Event

By Peggy Doherty and Val Good-Turney

The (MCA) hosts two in-person educational meetings each year that typically draw 110–125 people at each event. Seven weeks before the 2020 MCA Summer Meeting in June, with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the United States, the MCA board and staff made the decision to transition to a virtual event this year and move our hotel contract to a similar date at the same location in a future year. With months spent planning the in-person meeting, all parties knew we needed to act swiftly and smartly to smoothly transition to a virtual event.

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