The American Society of Association Executives and Center for Association Leadership's annual meeting in Chicago was a record breaker, drawing 7,058 attendees, topping the former high of 6,221 set in 1999 in San Diego by about 15 percent.

Among the attendees were 3,755 association executives, breaking the record of 3,438 association executives set in 1995 in Washington, D.C. There were also 2,350 exhibitors in attendance, supporting 885 booths on the trade show floor. The 885 booths marks a 9 percent increase over last year's meeting in Boston. The 2007 annual meeting, held August 11 to 15 at McCormick Place, also featured a record 223 international attendees. International delegates came from countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, Australia, Canada, and Africa.

ASAE president and CEO John Graham cited the strength of the program and the destination itself, with its "superb service" and "robust association community," as major reasons for the increase in attendance.

ASAE introduced four major initiatives for 2008 -- diversity, social responsibility, philanthropic outreach, and international outreach. On the meetings and events front, ASAE plans to launch a diversity forum in 2008 to talk about ways that associations can make diversity a high priority in their organizations. The dates and location of the forum have not yet been announced, but it could coincide with next year's annual meeting in San Diego.

Internationally, ASAE is committed to being a resource for the association community outside the U.S. Among other initiatives, ASAE is planning to conduct a study mission to India in 2008 where association executives will get a chance to visit India and familiarize themselves with the opportunities for growth in that country.

Regarding its social responsibility initiative, ASAE plans to hold a worldwide, multi-city Global Social Responsibility Summit on April 30 through May 2. The summit will take place at a not yet determined site in Washington, D.C., as well as satellite locations around the world. The idea of the meeting is to devise strategies and put into action ways that the associations around the world--which represent 287 million people--can effect positive change in their communities, industries, fields, and the world.