Susan Sarfati of GWSAE
The boards of four Washington, D.C.-based industry
groups the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the ASAE
Foundation, the Greater Washington Society of Association
Executives (GWSAE) and the Center for Association Leadership (CAL)
have agreed to consolidate into two organizations, resulting in a
greater ASAE and CAL.
“There has been discussion for years on how the organizations
could work together,” said Susan Sarfati, president and CEO of both
GWSAE and CAL.
The consolidation would roll GWSAE’s membership into ASAE; all
of GWSAE’s and ASAE’s education offerings and services and those of
the foundation will come under CAL, which will continue to be
housed in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade
Money, said Sarfati, is not the motivating factor behind the
consolidation. Cutting down on competing services in D.C., and
offering them more effectively, are. “Our main motivation has all
to do with advancing the association profession and the individuals
involved,” she said.
The two membership rosters overlap very little: GWSAE has about
3,000 members, of which one third are supplier partners; roughly 40
to 50 percent of the remainder belong to both GWSAE and ASAE, which
has 24,000 members.
GWSAE’s annual trade show, Springtime, scheduled for May 13 in
the city’s convention center, will continue as planned, as will its
acclaimed Nation’s Capital Distinguished Speakers Series.
The planned merger is not without its detractors. At a town
hall meeting on Jan. 28, some GWSAE members voiced concerns over
losing the unique culture the organization has created since it
began in 1927. “What we heard is that people in Washington want
networking,” said John Graham, president and CEO of ASAE. “We need
to figure out if what ASAE already does is sufficient, or if we
need to expand it or put it under the aegis of a local networking
Graham countered charges the plan will result in ASAE focusing
too much on Washington. “We feel just the opposite is true,” he
said. “Eliminating the need for ASAE to compete with GWSAE will
enable us to focus our energies outside D.C., particularly with
state and regional associations, where there is a real need.”
Following due diligence and the creation of a plan to integrate
the staffs and services of the organizations, the four boards could
cast a final vote in April, followed by a vote of GWSAE members in
May. If all goes well, restructuring would begin July 1, at the
beginning of the organizations’ new fiscal year.