The boards of four major Washington, D.C.–area organizations serving association executives voted this week to approve a merger that would combine all the current activities of the four entities into two. The boards of the American Society of Association Executives, the ASAE Foundation, The Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, and The Center for Association Leadership could merge into two entities: ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership.
However, the dissolution of GWSAE, and therefore the merger of the four organizations, is contingent upon a vote by the association professional members (voting members) of GWSAE, which will take place June 30. Members who are not able to attend that meeting at GWSAE headquarters will have the option of voting by absentee ballot. GWSAE would be dissolved as a corporate entity and its assets would be transferred to The Center. The Center for Association Leadership was founded by GWSAE several years ago as an "organization that offers exceptional learning experiences … throughout the association profession," and is known for its innovative education and programming, which will now extend beyond the Washington, D.C., association market.
In a press conference Wednesday, Susan Sarfati, president and CEO of GWSAE and The Center, said that approximately 1,600 GWSAE members would be eligible to vote, and that a minimum of 10 percent must vote and that a two-thirds majority approval is needed in order for the merger to succeed. Currently "about 50 percent of GWSAE members are also members of ASAE," said Sarfati.
Under the proposal, which was hammered out by leaders of all four organizations—members of the Joint Leadership Team, or JOLT—the activities of the ASAE Foundation and of GWSAE would be offered through The Center, which is headquartered at the Marriott Learning Complex in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
The merger would reduce redundancies between the four organizations and consolidate staff and, eventually, office space. All of the research and educational functions of all four organizations would be the responsibility of The Center.
The ASAE annual meeting and exposition held each August and the annual exposition put on by GWSAE, Springtime, would continue, according to Sarfati and John H. Graham IV, president and CEO of ASAE. Under the new structure, Graham would continue as president and CEO of ASAE and Sarfati would continue as president and CEO of The Center and become executive vice president at ASAE. ASAE and The Center would operate with separate boards linked in a new governance structure that includes cross-representation on both boards and a unified staff structure. The new Center for Association Leadership would be governed for two years by a transition board of directors composed of 24 members.
Operating efficiencies and savings would be realized by consolidating finance and administration, technology, meeting services,, and human resources, although Safarti and Graham were careful to say that they were unsure how many layoffs, if any, would take place, because none of the four organizations filled vacancies when staff left in the recent past.
The only real news that came out of the press conference was that even though GWSAE would be dissolved if the members approve, many of the GWSAE benefits and programs will be preserved through a community called GWSAEnetwork, although those D.C.–area association executives would be paying dues to only one association, ASAE.
For more details on the proposed merger, click here.