At its annual meeting this week in Chicago, ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership announced the formation of a new meeting, the Global Summit on Social Responsibility.

The summit, unique in many respects, will be held simultaneously at various locations around the world April 30 to May 2, 2008. The main meeting site will be Washington, D.C., where hundreds, if not thousands of association professionals are expected to attend. At the same time, satellite meetings will take place--potentially in cities such as Chicago, New York, Austin, San Francisco, Toronto, and Sacramento, Calif., where interest in hosting the event has already been expressed, as well as Europe and Asia.

In addition, association members will be able to participate in the summit online. A Web site will go live about a month before the conference and will allow people to interact and offer feedback.

"What ASAE and the Center is doing with this summit is creating an environment for a conversation to take place around social responsibility," said Susan Sarfati, CEO and president of the Center for Association Leadership and executive vice president at ASAE.

The summit will be facilitated by David Cooperrider, director at the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, part of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and keynote speaker at ASAE's annual meeting. The summit, which will not have speakers, will be designed to elicit feedback from attendees. "It's all about us, our members," said Sarfati.

The idea is to have the worldwide association community come together to discuss ways in which individual associations can positively affect their communities and industries and, more broadly, how the larger association world can effect change. Discussions will not be limited to issues such as the environment or charitable giving, but will try to encompass all ways that associations can help their communities and world.

By the end of the conference, organizers expect to formulate strategies and come up with an action plan that can be implemented immediately. "What we are going to have in the end is an action plan to move forward with," said Sarfati. In October 2008, a follow-up meeting is planned, where people will come together to discuss successes and challenges.

Details of the conference have not yet been hammered out. The Global Summit on Social Responsibility design team will meet in late October to decide the sites and format details. ASAE is looking to collaborate with other organizations on this initiative and has received interest from several organizations, including Meeting Professionals International.

As for the annual meeting at McCormick Place in Chicago, going on this week (August 11 to 14), it was a record-breaker for ASAE, attracting about 7,100 people. It far outpaced last year's meeting in Boston, where attendance was about 6,200. ASAE is also the first organization to meet in the new McCormick Place West building. The opening night reception was held in its 103,000-square-foot ballroom.