If a proposal announced in January comes to fruition, four nonprofit organizations for association executives will be consolidated into two. The Center for Association Leadership would absorb the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives as well as the ASAE Foundation, which would break off from the American Society of Association Executives. The consolidation of GWSAE into The Center requires a vote of approval by members. The announcement came from the Joint Leadership Team (JOLT), which comprises leaders of GWSAE, The Center for Association Leadership, ASAE, and the ASAE Foundation. The group has been meeting for the past four months to identify ways to better serve the association market.

JOLT proposes to structure all current activities of the four organizations into two entities — ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership — that “operate with separate boards linked in a new governance structure that includes cross-representation on both boards and a unified staff structure,” according to a press release issued in January when the announcement of the consolidation was made. John Graham would continue in his role as president and CEO of ASAE. Susan Sarfati, currently president and CEO of GWSAE and The Center for Association Leadership, would continue in the role of president and CEO of The Center, and become executive vice president at ASAE. As part of the unified structure, all staff members would become ASAE employees, according to Graham.

The Center for Association Leadership was founded by GWSAE as an organization that offers education and learning experiences for association professionals. It is located at the Center for Association Leadership Marriott Learning Complex in the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

While The Center would become part of ASAE, the two entities will have separate boards, making them “independent, but interdependent,” according to Graham. “By forging complementary relationships and reducing overlap in the association marketplace, these four organizations, combined into two organizations, can achieve an exponential increase in value and influence,” Graham says.

Impact for Industry Professionals?

For the meeting industry professional, the consolidation would eliminate confusion and redundancies of services, according to Graham. He says the new organizational structure would also enable ASAE and The Center to expand their reach outside of the Washington, D.C., area.

“We believe we can dramatically improve the services provided to state and regional associations,” Graham says. “Between ASAE and GWSAE, we've picked a lot of the fruit that's here in the D.C. market. The fruit that we haven't picked is outside of the D.C. marketplace.” About 60 percent of GWSAE members are members of ASAE, he says.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to take organizations that are already successful and bring them to new levels,” said Sarfati during the January press conference. The consolidation proposal, she stressed, has nothing to do with the financial health of GWSAE or The Center, both of which remain strong. Under the restructuring, The Center would become “the comprehensive global source for learning and knowledge in the association community,” she said.

All the current programs and services provided by GWSAE and the ASAE Foundation would continue under the management of The Center, including the upcoming GWSAE Springtime exposition, scheduled for May 13 at the Washington Convention Center.

The ASAE Meeting and Technology Conference will be held as planned February 9 to 11 in Baltimore, as will the ASAE annual meeting, August 14 to 17 in Minneapolis.

Next, JOLT will conduct its due diligence, which will be complete in 90 days. The proposal must also be approved by the membership of GWSAE. In the meantime, Graham and Sarfati will appoint a transition team to look at how to integrate staff, resources, and budgets. After that, assuming the members approve the proposal, an operations plan will be implemented.