With 78 percent of its members voting in favor of consolidation, the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives officially merged last week with the American Society of Association Executives. (No ASAE member vote was required.) This completes a consolidation plan laid out in January by a partnership of leaders from four organizations--ASAE, GWSAE, The Center for Association Leadership (previously run by GWSAE), and the ASAE Foundation.
Under the terms of the new arrangement, there are now just two organizations: ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership, both based in Washington, D.C. The Center now oversees all educational programming, including sessions at ASAE's annual convention, as well as the research activities previously managed by the ASAE Foundation. ASAE and the Center are tied by a unified staff and cross-representation on both boards. Susan Sarfati, previously the president and CEO of GWSAE and the Center, retains the title for the Center and is now also executive vice president for ASAE. John Graham continues as president and CEO of ASAE.
ASAE will continue to run its own events, including the annual meeting and exposition. GWSAE's "Springtime" exposition will remain, but will be rebranded under the ASAE and Center banner, Graham said in an interview, with proceeds going to the Center.
The merger eliminates redundancies in the Washington, D.C., area, but not programs, according to Graham. 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 and Phoenix next year. Additionally, plans are in the works to create a technology education conference aimed at information technology people and chief information officers. ASAE is shooting for a fall 2005 launch.
"From our perspective this puts a fresh face on not only what we do in the Washington, D.C., area, but also on what we do in markets outside the D.C. area," Graham said. While GWSAE will no longer exist, the GWSAEnetwork has been established for Washington-area members. The GWSAEnetwork will provide a networking and educational platform for former GWSAE members through workshops, events, and meetings. The first meeting is scheduled for July 20.
"[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."