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Fifty years of the profession in print.

The secret's out: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT is a baby boomer, turning 50 this month. And while the book A Coming of Age by Samuel B. Shapiro, CAE, remains the definitive archival history of the association management profession, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT represents its living counterpart, continuously recording the profession's evolution.

Officially launched in 1949, the magazine began as a quarterly publication, The Journal of American Trade Association Executives (ATAE). The publication was born in a decade that saw the end of World War II, the debut of commercial television, and the first digital computer (named ENIAC, weighing 30 tons and standing two stories high). Music was dominated by the Big Bands; burgeoning suburbs welcomed returning soldiers; and many women gave up their newfound jobs to men, although not for long.

More important to ATAE - with a 1949 membership of just more than 1,000, 65 of whom were women - was the general upswing of the American economy, expanding with unprecedented energy to meet peacetime needs and fueling the growth of trade associations to educate, support, and represent their member industries.

Since that time, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT has reflected the challenges of a half century defined by sea changes in technology, increased accountability of associations, higher member expectations, and less time for volunteering. Between the publication's covers have been articles focusing on the perennial themes of education, management skills, meetings, and government relations. Others discuss the changing needs of multigenerational workforces, women forging their way into boardrooms, the mania for mergers and consolidations, up-to-the-minute legal issues, and new models of governance.

The flagship publication of ASAE, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT has taken its mission seriously - that of keeping members aligned with the erratic continnum of management challenges and issues. Like many of his colleagues, P.D. "Bud" Hermann, CAE, executive vice president of Associated Equipment Distributors, Oakbrook, Illinois, 1950-1990, and ASAE's chief elected officer in 1974, credits ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT with "providing education and inspiration that advanced me in my career. In my early days," he recalls, "the latest issue invariably maintained a spot on my desk until I'd had an opportunity to peruse it thoroughly. I learned much in its pages that advanced me in my career."

Looking back across the magazine's lifetime, we also see a profession that has ridden the bucking bronco of change and is positioned to tackle the tough issues of the new millennium with a little help from ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.

A profession in infancy

ATAE's decision in 1949 to build on its eight-page monthly newsletter and add the more expansive ATAE Journal heralded a confidence in the development of the profession. Although founded in 1920, it had taken ATAE another 25 years for membership to reach 1,000. And while the association did much to support the war effort, it didn't see significant expansion until after World War II had ended. The Journal quickly began covering the post-war challenges of the trade association: an inflationary economy that squeezed association budgets, a demand for firsthand workplace data to help companies in negotiating with labor organizations, and increased government intervention in business.

Other challenges to association executives remain timeless. As Hermann recalls, "Early in my career as an editor of association publications, my hardest challenge was deadlines - and they still plague association executives by constantly limiting the time to think through and solve problems."

As the '50s progressed, so did the profession. ATAE leadership announced efforts to develop association management courses at colleges and predicted that ATAE's government relations committee would become one of its most important. By 1955, that speculation came to pass as the committee's chair announced that trade association executives were now eligible for a number of industry advisory committees.

In 1956, the membership voted to change the organization's name from ATAE to ASAE, with professional and technical society executives having the stone rights and privileges as trade association members.

Management makes its mark

When James P. Low, CAE, chairman of the board, Dynamics, Great Falls. Virginia, took the helm at ASAE in 1965, he became part of a staff of four, with one person as the editor and publisher of the magazine. "The first thing that happened when I sat down at my desk was that I discovered $30,000 worth of unpaid invoices under the blotter. When we held our first major annual meeting at the Greenbrier Hotel, West Virginia, we had all of 12 exhibit booths in the hall. We went onward and upward from there, and by the time I left, we had 87 employees on staff and had built a new headquarters for ASAE."

Low, who headed ASAE until 1981, points out, "the '60s and '70s were volatile years for association management. The energy crisis, OSHA, ERISA, and product liability and safety all hit the American business and professional communities. They had nowhere else to turn for help in these regulatory matters but to associations. By necessity, associations - overnight - had to become effective partners, while the association executive had to go from administrator to leader." And, in fact, a new level of professionalism and a new focus on the role of the association executive as a manager of people and processes - rather than a technician or simply a "glad-hander or keeper of the minutes" as some had described - emerged from this period. Not surprisingly, the magazine, which by 1963 had become a monthly publication with a new cover design and the new name, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT, was running articles that outlined the challenges facing association executives and identifying the traits of good managers. There was also increased coverage of conventions, meetings, and trade shows. The debut in 1963 of a monthly column by George D. Webster, partner, Webster. Chamberlain & Bean, Washington, D.C., and ASAE general counsel from 1966 to 1996 (now deceased), addressed the increased need for timely details on legal issues affecting associations.

The magazine was becoming a key resource. Bernard J. Imming, CAE, president, The Association Consultancy, Alexandria, Virginia, and ASAE's chief elected officer in 1985, remembers that "sources other than ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT for professional educational materials were quite limited when I [joined] the profession in the '60s."

Robert J. Dolibois, CAE, executive vice president, American Nursery and Landscape Association, Washington, D.C., and 1998-1999 ASAE chairman of the board, recalls the role of associations during his early years in the profession. "When I came to the National Association of Life Underwriters, Washington, D.C., in 1974, associations were largely institutions. They kept the flame burning to legitimize the organization, profession, or trade being represented. It wasn't until the early 1980s that associations became enterprises, operating entrepreneurially - practically as businesses.

"Another challenge to many of us," recalls Dolibois, "was the fact that the association management career path was somewhat amorphous when compared to the more distinct corporate or military tracks. You had to look out for yourself and try to figure out when to make choices, what the tradeoffs were, and when it was time to make a professional move."

Imming had a similar experience. "When I received my CAE designation in 1974," he says, "I finally began to feel that I was really a professional - and that I could handle the job." Fortunately, says Dolibois, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT came to the rescue. "The magazine acted as an affirmation of what I was experiencing and as an early warning system for things that might begin to impact me and my work."

Michael S. Olson, CAE, ASAE president and CEO, started his own association management company "because in the 1970s there was a real need for it in North Carolina - and elsewhere too - although the challenges were a lot simpler than today. First, you could list them on one page: membership development, effective communication, a successful annual meeting, and achieving budget. You didn't have the environment of competition, legislative intrusion, and mobile workforce issues that we experience today." Like Dolibois, Olson looks to ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT for guidance. "I've had more lightbulbs go off across the years from inside the cover of the magazine because I'm reading about a new concept or theory, experiment, or program. Advertising support also became a form of communication in its own way - revealing new destinations, hotels, services, insurance products that we would otherwise not have known about.

"The personalities that have been profiled across the years have created a composite role model for those of us who are regular readers. As we read about other leaders and what they've achieved, we subliminally continue building on that image of the model association executive."

Maturity and momentum

When R. William Taylor, CAE, president, Global Management Group, Arlington, Virginia, took the helm of ASAE in 1981, association executives were beginning to gain more credibility. Looking back across his tenure at ASAE, which ended in 1998, Taylor notes, "if you look at any newspaper, I think the regard for associations has come so far - so many associations are quoted on every conceivable issue and topic. The recent ASAE [public relations] campaign on Capitol Hill has helped reinforce and drive home tile point that 'this is where you get the accurate information and these are the people that put it together.'"

Meanwhile, Debra J. Stratton, president, Stratton Publishing and Marketing, Inc., Springfield, Virginia, confirms that the late '70s and early '80s had been a time of tremendous growth for ASAE. Promoted to publisher of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT in 1980, her first challenge was "to reposition several of the publications. With rapid growth, we had tried a lot of new things and took a lot of risks in seeking to meet member needs." Stratton recalls, "We started section newsletters to deliver more targeted information to staff specialists. We also launched Leadership magazine, targeted to chief elected officers, because we realized the need for a successful partnership between the elected leader and the staff leader."

It was in 1986 that Quincalee Brown, CAE, and ASAE's 1993 chairman of the board, became executive director, Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, Virginia. The reasons for her selection for the top post at WEF reflected a clear recognition of the qualities of a professional association executive. "The organization had grown very fast and was reaching a critical point. The technical part was fine; it was the systems that were struggling. So, normally, they would have hired a qualified male civil engineer with water quality experience or a science background. But they realized the parts that needed fixing were all association management issues - and I had the experience in the profession to help them accomplish that."

The 1980s and '90s also brought the first real focus on internationalism as the world began to go global. "Why We Need an Export Revolution" (October 1989) heralded the benefits of expanding the reach of associations. Richard Denyer, general secretary and chief executive officer, Society of Chemical Industry, London, found and joined ASAE in the late 1970s "while searching for material on strategic planning. It was as though a window had opened on a new world," he recalls. "The importance of international relationships among associations is invaluable when it comes to sharing strategy and best practices. The direct contact with association staff members has been of increasing value in my work." Often the most fruitful contacts and ideas come from completely unrelated fields, or at least by sharing experiences among those not remotely in danger of being in competition with each other.

And, of course, the sweeping changes in technology provided never-ending fodder for features in the magazine, from "Directing Traffic on the Information Superhighway" in 1993 to "The Webbing of Association Meetings" in 1999.

When Elissa M. Myers, CAE, became ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT'S publisher in 1988, the technology revolution was sweeping through the magazine's production processes. "From the first time I saw the magic of page layout on a computer screen, my heart was lost. You didn't have to be Einstein to see what technology could do to make work easier, faster, and smarter. It was scary," Myers admits, "and some people had one foot firmly planted in the past, finding it hard to move into unknown territory. Others transitioned more easily. I do believe that ASAE was able to model the adaptation for many of its members, but in truth, I learned an awful lot from members about how to move into the e-zone."

Olson identifies other trends that will continue to drive ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT'S content. "Associations are more entrepreneurial models today; there is more movement among CEOs in the profession; and boards are more knowledgeable - they understand issues better than ever. Government involvement is also a key issue because it is a demanding challenge in terms of time and financial resources," he acknowledges.

"Industry consolidation and other structural changes are going to impact many associations," adds Brown. "And private companies that are suddenly seeing our market as a good one are promising intense competition. Certainly I will look to ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT magazine to educate us on those issues. I'll want to read case studies involving industries and organizations that have seen and weathered huge changes, are going through mergers, and are dealing with different workforces and volunteer restrictions."

Denyer, who has been pressing ASAE for some time to get on the global bandwagon, is pleased to see ASAE responses that recognize the importance of the global community and a networked world. Pointing to ASAE's international activity, including its established online discussion groups, Denyer says: "The electronic dimension cannot be stressed enough in terms of the future development of associations. With my frequent interactions with business and education leaders in North America," says Denyer, "an added benefit of ASAE membership relates to having access to a greater depth of understanding of U.S. cultural, economic, and political trends." Of course, this is a two-way street, and Denyer likes to think that many U.S. association leaders benefit from the worldwide exposure.

Fast forward

As the new millennium unfolds, the issues facing publishers and their constituencies require boldness and vision: achieving the successful balance between electronic and print publications, responding to the related advertising issues, converting information into customized knowledge, and determining the level of risk necessary to keep it all in balance.

Myers, now president of the Electronic Retailing Association, Washington, D.C., sees so much synergy in the various media that her organization is launching a new magazine,, this fall. "I view the magazine," explains Myers, "as a calling card that identifies the image of our industry. It helps members see themselves - in the photos and illustrations - and reinforces their connection to the association and the industry."

Dan Johnson, assistant editor, The Futurist, Bethesda, Maryland, has similar plans when it comes to the tug of war between print and digital delivery. "We're making more and more material available online," he says. "We post the archives of Future Survey, a specialized journal of book abstracts to our Web site, disseminate information about World Future Society conferences and membership, and offer an online bookstore. Readers have requested a searchable archive of The Futurist by topic so they can see how certain areas have developed across 30 years. We're now considering how to make it available.

"In terms of electronic publishing technology," predicts Johnson, "I think people will pick and choose among the alternatives, just as they do with other types of technology. But, in the end, people need a break from endless communication, just like they need sleep."

Stratton, ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT'S publisher until 1985, now advises association clients to "study the market and then take some risks and move away from one all-purpose vanilla publication that tries to appeal to all levels of readers to more niche publishing. Associations need to start emulating the commercial world by diversifying and expanding the types of publications they produce - not just with different products and formats but also to expanded audiences such as special member segments, members' members, and other related audiences."

As for the role ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT will occupy in the labyrinth of information delivery, George E. Moffat, ASAE vice president of communication and publisher of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT, is committed to "continuing to integrate online information products with printed publications - and to keeping the magazine a trusted source of in-depth and well-researched coverage of the top issues in association management." Moffat also admits, "No one has the crystal ball that precisely identifies what the perfect balance will be when it comes to migrating information online. And the impact on advertising is another issue. A publisher today looking at return on investment for publications and for online delivery formats may be looking eventually at an entirely different balance between those elements. But more than ever, the publisher needs to support the editorial team, give them the tools they need to work with, ensure that the return on investment is there, and remain on top of the many challenges that are facing us today. That's the only way to arrive at the synergy of information, delivery that will meet our members' needs."

Olson sums it up: "Although we are starting to migrate our section newsletters online and to back that with a quarterly print piece to highlight the hot button issues of each section, I really see ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT as even more relevant in the environment of constant online communication delivery. It gives us a chance to step back from the noise and the crowd on the Internet and quietly reflect - on our own time and in our own way - and enjoy how the magazine captures and clarifies the issues of the day in our own professional journal."

* 1949: The Journal of American Trade Association Executives is launched.

* 1949: The April 1949 ATAE membership directory includes just more than 1,000 members, 65 of whom are women.

* 1949: ATAE announces Here's How, a new publication presenting case studies of how association problems are solved.

* 1952: ATAE changes title of its first full-time chief staff executive, Reuel W. Elton, from general manager to executive vice president. Elton had assumed the top position in 1947.

* 1953: ATAE publishes first association executive compensation and benefits study.

* 1955: The ATAE Journal generates $18,578 of ATAE's $99,103 annual revenue.

* 1955: ATAE announces its offering of a group insurance plan.

* 1956: ATAE membership votes to change its name to ASAE to include professional and technical society executives as members.

* 1956: ASAE publishes first Hotel Manual and Supplement and a manual, Improving Your Conventions, Meetings, and Exhibitions.

* 1956: ASAE building fund approved.

* 1963: ATAE's quarterly Journal becomes a monthly publication to be titled ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.

* 1963: George D. Webster's monthly legal column debuts in the magazine.

* 1964: ASAE of post-convention tour to the New York World's Fair.

* 1964: ASAE Foundation is established.

* 1965: James P. Low, CAE, becomes ASAE's executive vice president. (During his tenure, the title was changed to president.

* 1967: The May issue of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT uses a photograph on its cover for the first time.

* 1968: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT publishes its first article about computers, "Computers and Association Management."

* 1968: ASAE offers its first Association Convention Directory.

* 1968: The first "film festival" of prize-winning association films debuts at ASAE's annual meeting in Atlanta.

* 1968: ASAE publishes its first Policies and Practices Survey report.

* 1970: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT features "The Offices of the 70's."

* 1970: An early article with an international focus gives readers "A Look at Association Export Development."

* 1971: Association executives meet with President Nixon.

* 1972: ASAE board of directors approves launch of certification program (CAE) for association executives.

* 1975: President Ford meets with ASAE members.

* 1976: Samuel B. Shapiro, CAE, writes "Why the Chief Paid Executive Should Be Called President," a classic commentary in which he changes his mind on the subject.

* 1977: A major redesign of the magazine includes a new logo.

* 1977: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT'S March issue features "Women in Association Management: How Some Make It to the Top."

* 1978: An article begins the discussion of how to "Expand the Reach of Your Meetings Through Electronic Communications."

* 1978: The first issue of Leadership is targeted to volunteer leaders.

* 1980: ASAE moves into its new building at 1575 I St., a symbol of association strength and solidarity.

* 1981: Association managers realize they will soon be "Managing the Baby Boom Managers."

* 1981: R. William Taylor, CAE, becomes ASAE's president. (During his tenure, the title was changed to president and CEO.)

* 1982: Taylor and Low confer with President Reagan.

* 1983: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT explores the future with Megatrends author John Naisbitt.

* 1985: Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker III predicts tax reform impact on nonprofit organizations.

* 1985: Tom Peters and Nancy Austin talk to ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT about A Passion for Excellence and how it applies to association leaders.

* 1985: ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT unveils new logo.

* 1987: Associations begin facing the downsizing dilemma.

* 1987: "Overcoming Terminal Anxiety" alerts associations to the challenges of going online.

* 1988: Ken Blanchard talks to ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT about "Taking the High Road to Ethical Management."

* 1990: Magazine redesign features new logo still in use.

* 1990: ASAE celebrates 70th anniversary and reaches 20,000 members.

* 1990: ASAE publishes first study on Association Technology Trends.

* 1992: George H.W. Bush speaks at ASAE's Management and Meetings Forum.

* 1992: In an interview with Henry Ernstthal, CAE, John Carver talks about governance from a new perspective.

* 1993: ASAE Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary.

* 1993: Tom Peters advocates that associations "go crazy" and take risks.

* 1994: President Clinton speaks at ASAE's Management and Meetings Forum.

* 1994: ASAE files suit, with 10 other associations, against lobby tax included in 1993 budget.

* 1995: ASAE celebrates 75th anniversary with a cool, coated, die-cut, double cover.

* 1995: George D. Webster named ASAE general counsel emeritus.

* 1995: ASAE launches its Web site,

* 1996: Jerald A. Jacobs becomes ASAE legal counsel.

* 1996: Associations win back the right to offer 401(k) plans.

* 1997: The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 takes effect.

* 1998: General Colin L. Powell talks to ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT about the leadership lessons of his military career that other leaders can learn.

* 1999: Knowledge management becomes the key to guarding organizational wealth.

Carole Schweitzer is associate editor of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT. E-mail: The anniversary timeline was compiled by the editorial staff of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:Association Management magazine
Author:Schweitzer, Carole
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Oct 1, 1999
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