Exec of the Future: Highlights From This Month’s Feature

Three leaders setting the path for associations as a whole: Highlights from our September/October 2012 cover story, "Exec of the Future."

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Associations resist change. Associations are slow-moving ships. Associations have a “we’ve always done it that way” mentality.

That’s not what we see. This magazine has always featured leaders who reject conventional thinking. And in this special package you’ll meet three who embody the essential skills of next-generation association management. For Nathan Victoria, it means possessing the kind of flexibility that lets you take charge in any context. For Paula Feldman, it means knowing that research implies providing solutions for members, not just pumping out data. And for D.A. Abrams, CAE, it means recognizing that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is about more than doing the right thing—it’s about reaching new markets and meeting business goals.

Want to see what the association executive of the future looks like? Meet three of them, right here. Some highlights from this month’s feature:

We needed to do more than just take numbers, regurgitate it, send it to the members, and hope they understand what to do with it. So we redefined our scope.

Nathan Victoria: The Change Agent

When the 29-year-old director of member engagement and student initiatives at NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education decided the organization needed a social media presence, he didn’t wait for approval from his superiors. He just went for it. “Even though we do have professional levels [on the staff], there’s never been an ‘I need to get approval’ culture,” he says. “It’s more [that I] report back that I’m trying this initiative than, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about doing this; do you think maybe we can do it?’ A feature of NASPA is that if there’s not a financial implication, I really have free rein.”

Paula Feldman: Intelligence in Demand

“We needed to do more than just take numbers, regurgitate it, send it to the members, and hope they understand what to do with it,” says Paula Feldman, the director of business intelligence at the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI). “So we redefined our scope.” Feldman is at the helm of the these data directives, letting their members know about changes in the market when they happen. The expansion of the association’s business intelligence program in 2006 proved fortunate when the economy tanked two years later. PMMI was ready to provide the industry a wide array of data and analysis it could use to navigate the storm.

D.A. Abrams, CAE: Different Strokes

“It’s one thing for [D&I] to be the right thing to do,” says D.A. Abrams, CAE, the chief diversity and inclusion (D&I) officer for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). “But the focal point has to be that we’re doing this so we can stay ahead of the curve and gain market share.” To do this, Abrams has focused on partnerships, including collaboration with the American Tennis Association, a primarily African-American group, on an ambitious project to grow the number of its local clubs from 50 to 200 over the next three years and link them to USTA’s network of community tennis associations.

This article has been adapted from the September/October 2012 edition of Associations Now. Want to read more? Check out the Associations Now magazine page.

Photos by David Yellen

Associations Now Staff

By Associations Now Staff

The Associations Now team of editors covers all aspects of association management in print, blogs, and daily news. MORE

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