Politics, innovation, music, and some new educational programming are highlights of the 2011 ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition, August 6–9 in St. Louis.

The event kicks off with an evening of food, drinks, and music under the iconic Gateway Arch. Performers will include Michael McDonald, formerly of the Doobie Brothers, the St. Louis Blues Review, and hip-hop artist, Chingy.

Politics and current events will take center stage in the opening general session with keynote speakers Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” In the closing general session, Peter Sheahan, author of Flip: How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings, will talk about how organizations can turn challenges into opportunities and create competitive advantages.

Sandwiched in between will be more than 100 educational sessions, including a track on the Business of Meetings. Association Meetings 3.0; Meeting, Event, and Tradeshow Assessments; and Work With Your Supplier Partners to Build the Best R.O.I. into Your Meetings and Events are just some of the meetings-related sessions.

One of the new features this year is Game Changers, where influential leaders in business, innovation, and finance tell their stories about how they helped redefine their industries. Game changers include Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear; Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC’s “Today Show”; and John Kao, chairman of the World Economic Forum's Global Advisory Council on Innovation

Also new will be Ignite, a series of five-minute-long presentations by a variety of experts on a range of topics. “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” is the Ignite motto. Ignite speakers include Jeffrey Cufaude (A More Sustainable You) and Joe Gerstandt (Why Profanity Kicks @$$).

In addition, Flash Learning Rooms will allow attendees to claim a room and conduct a session on a topic of their choosing. Marketing of the content will be promoted through ASAE’s social media channels and will be the responsibility of the convener. And via Conversations That Matter, attendees will be able to participate in facilitated conversations on a range of topics.

ASAE won’t be holding a hybrid meeting this year. Last year in Los Angeles, ASAE streamed two dozen live sessions to a virtual audience, but this year, the association is taking a different approach. ASAE will record the sessions and make them available for on-demand purchase after the conference ends.

“St. Louis’ location at the heart of the nation and its impressive list of attractions will make for an excellent destination to host an event of this magnitude,” said Graham. “It also ensures that the majority of participants will have easy, affordable access to the convention.” To register or for more information, go to asaecenter.org.