by Jonathan Vatner | October 01, 2006

M&C, October 1986Twenty years ago this month,M&C profiled five association CEOs to find out how they made decisions in highly politicized environments. The cover featured Lee VanBremen, Ph.D., CAE, then the executive vice president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Last month, M&C checked in with VanBremen to ask how things have changed since then.

In 1989, VanBremen became CEO of the College of American Pathologists and retired in 2001. He now lives with his wife in New Hampshire, serves on the boards of three associations, and does volunteer and consulting work.

Regarding the challenge of being an association CEO, VanBremen finds “there is no magic formula for governance. To make rules that everyone should follow is crazy.” As in 1986, he still believes consensus should be reached before making decisions. The crucial challenge for a CEO today, he says, is to be “more businesslike without turning the organization into a business.”