With the merger of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives into the American Society of Association Executives, a new chapter begins for ASAE and its sister organization, the Center for Association Leadership, as the organizations introduce several initiatives, including new conferences and a forum for Washington D.C. — area association professionals.

GWSAE officially merged with ASAE on June 30, completing a consolidation plan laid out in January by the leadership of four organizations — ASAE, GWSAE, The Center for Association Leadership (previously run by GWSAE), and the ASAE Foundation. Seventy eight percent of GWSAE's 733 members voted in favor of consolidation. Under the terms of the new arrangement, there are now just two organizations: ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership, both in Washington, D.C. The Center now oversees all educational programming, including sessions at ASAE's annual convention. The two entities serve 295,000 association professionals and business partners nationwide, with all members of GWSAE members becoming ASAE members.

ASAE and the Center are tied by a unified staff and cross-representation on both boards. Susan Sarfati, formerly the CEO and president of both GWSAE and the Center, retains the CEO title for the Center and is now also executive vice president for ASAE. John Graham continues as CEO of ASAE. “We're independent organizations, but we also know that we're interdependent on each other for our success,” Sarfati says.

ASAE will continue to run its own events, including the annual meeting. GWSAE's “Springtime” conference will remain, but will be rebranded under the ASAE and Center banner, Graham explains, with proceeds going to the Center.

The merger will eliminate redundancies in the Washington, D.C., area, but not programs, according to Graham. “[With this merger] everybody sort of put their egos aside,” Graham says. “They made a decision to create something that would be better than what the four organizations do now.”

The resulting additional resources will be put to use in programs around the country, including the new “Great Ideas” conferences, which are educational sessions being planned for Orlando in December of this year and Phoenix in February 2005. Additionally, plans are in the works to create a technology education conference aimed at information technology professionals and chief information officers. ASAE is shooting for a fall 2005 launch.

The Center will transform from an entity that served the Washington, D.C., market to one that will serve a national and global audience, Sarfati says. Research efforts will be bolstered by the inclusion of the ASAE Foundation into the organization. “Through the reach of the Center, I think there'll be more diversity of ideas and sharing of information from association professionals all around the country and the globe,” she adds.

The Center plans to set up “communities of practice” all around the country where people with common interests can share their expertise with others. “We feel that lots of the knowledge exists already in the association community, and we need to find ways of sharing that,” Sarfati says.

And while the GWSAE will no longer exist, the GWSAEnetwork has been established for Washington-area ASAE members, including all GWSAE members, to provide a networking and educational platform through workshops, events, and meetings. The inaugural meeting was held July 20.

With the merger complete and the transition under way, the next chapter is just beginning, says Sarfati. “Now, it's up to us to deliver,” she says.