Forum: Year in Review

Take a look at some of Forum’s biggest news this year — and look ahead to what’s happening in 2022.

By the FORUM Magazine editors

Employees look over figures at a team meeting.

ISAE Chapter

It’s been one year since Association Forum welcomed the Illinois Society of Association Executives (ISAE) as an independent chapter. In that time, ISAE’s 400+ members have gained access to Association Forum’s resources, and we’ve benefited from the new perspectives these members lend.

Association Forum held events in Springfield, Illinois, for ISAE chapter members in July and October. This was the first in-person event brought to Springfield — and a huge success.

“By working together with Forum, we are bringing the Illinois association community together like never before,” says Bryan Soady, CAE, ISAE president and executive director of the Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs. “We’re excited about the possibilities for enhanced education, improved experience and a stronger voice at the Capitol.”

New Business Model

Association Forum engaged THRUUE to reimagine our business model one year ago. Our board and former CEO and President Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, had already raised concerns over the organization’s revenue relying so heavily on the hospitality and destination industries. That reliance became unsustainable due to COVID-19.

The board sprang into action and reimagined the organization’s business model. With thoughtful guidance from THRUUE, the team came up with a novel approach. This model involves a shift in thinking and operation, four verticals and a plan to diversify revenue streams.

Now, under the leadership of Interim CEO Suzanne Berry, MBA, CAE, and with Paul Pomerantz, FASAE, CAE, as chair of the board, we have begun implementing the new model. Be on the lookout for more info regarding these changes and a full narrative of what it took to get here.

CEO Search Update

Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, announced in June that she would be leaving Association Forum to become CEO of the American Society of Association Executives. Mason had led Association Forum since 2014.

Suzanne Berry, MBA, CAE, began her role as interim CEO in August. Currently, the board is leading a search for the new president and CEO with the help of Tuft & Associates and Association Strategies. We are looking forward to working with these firms on this incredibly important initiative. “Their focus on DE&I aligns with Association Forum’s Welcoming Environment® strategy and will help us make the best, most inclusive selection for Association Forum,” says Paul Pomerantz, FASAE, CAE, Association Forum Board chair.

In September, the board announced a search committee. Stay tuned for more information on the ongoing search.

FORUM’s Digital Push

Have you missed reading this magazine? That may be because in June of this year, FORUM magazine went digital. Association Forum has posted magazine content online for years, but this year the publication transitioned to a mostly digital format, with just one printed copy a year (consider it a special edition for Holiday Showcase).

The transformation has been well received so far. This year, the magazine website has garnered more than 10,000 visits. We post new articles weekly and each month’s content centers around a theme. You can also find updates from the organization and press releases on the magazine website. If you can’t check the site each week, be on the lookout for our monthly email that highlights the latest articles.

What’s everyone reading? Teresa Brinati, director of publishing at the Society of American Archivists, wrote a piece called “The New Leadership Model” back in April. This well-researched article focuses on authentic and empathetic leadership, with special consideration to the pandemic. Brinati’s article is this year’s most-read with more than 1,200 views.

Another hit article was Mahjeda Ali’s “Sorry for the Background Noise.” A senior awards program specialist at IEEE, Ali shared her story of coming back from maternity leave to a world in lockdown and working from home with an infant. Ali’s story is poignant, relatable and highlights critical flaws in society’s treatment of working parents.

Upcoming Signature Events in 2022

Jan 25 | Healthcare Collaborative, ADA Conference and Meeting Center

March 2 | Women’s Executive Forum, W Chicago-City Center

March 30 | SmartTech Conference, OLC Education & Conference Center

June 21 | Forum Forward, Venue Six10

June 23 | Honors Gala, Marriott Magnificent Mile

Association Forum’s Leadership Programs

Association 101

Offered twice a year in the spring and fall, this is a one-day educational program that is a perfect introduction to the association world for staff new to the industry. 

Emerging Leaders Program

The Emerging Leaders Program highlights influential and powerful techniques that teach young professionals how to take the next steps to achieve success while creating an exclusive group where young professionals learn together over six months. 

Executive Leaders Program

The Executive Leaders program is a six-month education and networking program for leaders who are looking to advance in the association industry. Executive leaders will participate in a series of learning modules to help them find their strengths in their current roles before formalizing a plan for their desired career trajectory. 

Forty Under 40 Program

The Forty Under 40 program is a prestigious competition that provides recognition to 40 accomplished association or nonprofit professionals who are under the age of 40, demonstrate high potential for continued success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong passion for — and commitment to — the association management and nonprofit industries. 

CEO’s Kitchen Cabinet

This is the second year of the CEO’s Kitchen Cabinet — a unique CEO learning community focused on critical problem-solving by examining challenges and opportunities through peer-to-peer engagement. The focus of this year’s cohort of 20 association CEOs is on moving from crisis to recovery. Email exectiveoffice@associationforum.org for more information.

About the Author

Written by the FORUM Magazine editors.

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