We Asked, You Answered: How Do You Explain Your Role Within Your Association?

We all know why working in associations is great, but it can often be difficult to explain the work of an association pro to people not familiar with the industry. Here’s a look at how readers describe their specific roles within their associations.

Last month, we shared how your colleagues explain what an association professional does.

Now, we take a look at how staffers explain their specific roles within their organizations, whether CEO, membership professional, or communications expert. Read on for some insights.

Jeannette Stawski

Executive Director, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education

As the executive director of AORE, I work with an international group of outdoor professionals to develop and refine industry best practices and provide professional educational support.

Ellen Voie

President/CEO, Women in Trucking Association, Inc.

My response is to ask them if they belong to any organizations for their job or hobby, so they understand what a nonprofit association is. Then I tell them my role is to lead our organization to be a resource for the trucking industry to have a more gender diverse workforce.

Charmaine Osborne

Manager of Membership, American Hospital Association

I usually start out by asking the individual, “What do you do for a living? Are you a member of a professional organization that provides education, training, and or advocacy on behalf of your profession?”

Well, there is an association out there that can help to advance your career. I work for (tell them what organization I work for) as the manager of membership. My role with the organization is to support and engage our members in ways that increase their participation, advance them professionally, and recognize them for their achievements. We also provide a wide range of education, training, and certification programs to help them advance in their career.

Patricia Blake

CEO, Heart Rhythm Society

I run a professional medical society for electrophysiologists, which is a specialty of cardiology. We help doctors stay current by providing education and research so they have the latest and best information to treat their patients.

Anne Bird

Director of Membership, Society of Architectural Historians

I manage yearly dues invoices and collections, outreach to new members, membership promotions, member resources, and assistance to members for whatever they need.

Joe Rominiecki

Manager of Communications, Entomological Society of America

I often start by mentioning the association for whatever profession my conversation partner works in. Let’s say the individual is a science teacher; I’d say “You know the National Science Teaching Association? Maybe you’re a member. Well, they have a staff of people who run their meetings, their publications, their membership programs, marketing, government relations, and so on.”

Then I go on to explain that I do the same stuff for the association where I work. This really seems to get people to relate to the work of association management more personally. If I only talk about my association, they get hung up on the subject area (insect science) and think that’s what I do.

Tracey Powell

Manager, Member Services, U.S. Travel Association

When I tell my friends what I do for work, I get the same reaction, “What do you do all day? Is it customer service like when you worked at Gap?”

I break it down for them: I start by telling them the industry my association serves. I further explain that me and my association colleagues provide XYZ benefits to professionals who work in that industry. The benefits we provide and the communication we have with members is essential for their career advancement. My job in membership includes customer service, but it goes beyond that: I’m providing support and tools to help others grow in their field and to help sustain their industry. It brings a sense of purpose and belonging, which is truly powerful.

(aelitta/iStock/Getty Images)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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