ASAE: Not Your Father's Association The new association is "lean, linked, electronic, and malleable." So says Tom Peters, the guru of gurus of marketing and management, and opening speaker at the record-breaking 80th annual meeting of the American Society of Association Executives, held August 12 through 15 in Orlando, Fla.

Peters was among three preeminent general session keynote speakers, joining John Glenn and Coretta Scott King, who riveted the 6,331 attendees and exhorted them to be change agents in the face of the technology revolution. ASAE President and CEO Michael S. Olson, CAE, calls it the "Super Bowl of conventions," and with more than 100 educational sessions, a total of 550 exhibitors in 850 booths, and the Disney touch on entertainment and activities, he's hardly off the mark.

Peters' anecdotal gems on the new economy - "The problem is never how to get new innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out" - reverberated throughout the four-day event in the speeches and presentations of others, in educational sessions, and in the exhibit hall, which hosted 140 more booths than last year. The reason? Dot-com vendors were on hand in a big way and attendees couldn't seem to get enough - if there was a bottleneck in the aisle, a dot-com booth was the reason.

The history-making Glenn, former astronaut and Democratic senator from Ohio, mesmerized attendees with a recounting of his voyages in outer space, showing a film about his most recent adventure as the oldest person ever, at 77, to join a space mission, in 1998. Speaking from his concern about the country's malaise regarding public service and government, he called upon associations to lead members to civic action. "We might as well take [the Constitution] out on the front steps of the Archives Building and burn it if we don't have the people to take those words and make them a reality," Glenn said. Associations, he noted, are the real entrepreneurs of democracy.

King, widow of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., put out a similar call to action, and chastised the industry on its affirmative action efforts. "Associations can become a force in diversity in professional lives," she said. "Women are represented, but other minorities could be better represented in associations." Mentoring and recruitment activities are the key, King said.

Other ASAE Annual Meeting highlights: - Olson reported that ASAE's strategic plan of five goals encompassing professional competency, advocacy, recognition, knowledge source, and inclusive membership, is well under way, and credited ASAE's staff of 146 for their efforts on the largest initiative in the association's history. Among the efforts is a new accreditation program for association management companies.

- Jeffrey Raynes, CAE, executive director/COO of the American Production and Inventory Control Society, officially took over as ASAE chairman, succeeding George D. Kirkland, CAE, president of the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau.

- The ASAE Foundation Partners for the Future exceeded their capital goal of $5 million - partners raised $6.6 million this year, as Starwood Hotels topped the list of donors with a $700,000 pledge. Fifty percent of the earnings on the fund - about $500,000 annually - go toward industry research, according to Olson. CVBs collectively brought more than $1 million to the table for the foundation, Olson added.

- An ASAE first: The annual meeting played host to the Sixth World Congress of Association Executives with a total of 21 countries and 341 attendees. It was the first time the global association management community held its World Congress in the United States. Notable among the group was a delegation from Beijing, the Peoples Republic of China, marking a new outreach for ASAE.

Did you know that before the Civil War, Baltimore was home to 25,000 free blacks, which at that time was a quarter of its population? This fact, and information on many historic sites, can be found in a new 32-page guide, "Discover Baltimore," the first African-American heritage guide for the city produced by the 21st Century Group, a local African-American public relations firm, and the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. "We are aggressively going after the $30 billion a year African-American travel segment," says Carroll R. Armstrong, BACVA president and CEO.

A total of 150,000 copies of the 32-page glossy book are being distributed to meeting planners in Maryland and throughout the country. To get a copy, call (800) 659-7300 or visit www.baltimore.org.