Category: Season 2

When Leaders Contract COVID with Steve Smith

When Leaders Contract COVID with Steve Smith

COVID has created challenges for leaders across the country as they deal with the impact of the pandemic on their colleagues, members, and finances. Communication amid crisis can require different tools and techniques. Empathy, clarity, and candor are what people want and need. So what happens when key staff members are affected by COVID?

Steve Smith, CEO of Association Management Center (AMC) and co-host of Conversations by Association—despite taking all the precautions necessary—tested positive for the virus in early October 2020. While remote work, client conferences, onsite protocols, and other plans were in place—this was unexpected. Learn how Steve shared his story with coworkers and in the process, created new, authentic connections and identified important lessons regarding crisis planning and business continuity.

Check Out the Video Recording of This Episode

Steve R. Smith, MS CAE FAAMSE

smith

Steve Smith, MS CAE FAAMSE, became AMC’s CEO in April 2020. Prior to stepping into his role, Steve served as a vice president of client relations on AMC’s Leadership Team and as CEO for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), AMC’s largest association partner. In his role with AAHPM, Steve led a team of nearly 20 professionals who helped the Academy achieve more than a decade of unprecedented growth and development.

With a strong foundation to build on, Steve is excited to lead AMC through a new period of growth and transition that will be fueled by our association partners’ needs and the creativity of our staff. Steve is passionate about developing and leveraging AMC’s strength, which has always been its staff, to help clients achieve their missions. He knows that tapping into strengths helps people bring their best selves to the work they’re doing, which leads to better and more meaningful outcomes.

Steve relies on his own strengths—including strategy, communication and positivity—to ensure that AMC staff and the volunteer leaders of AMC’s partner organizations are well supported so they can achieve their missions. Steve believes in AMC’s mission and the missions of AMC’s client partners, which include more than 25 professional societies—primarily healthcare, medical, and scientific associations. In his role, Steve strives to be visible, accessible, and engaged with each client partner in a way that is comfortable and meaningful to them.

Steve’s lifelong passion for healthcare and aging led him to his career in association management. His interest in healthcare started early in life while he was visiting aging family members and developing intergenerational programs for students and nursing home residents in high school and college. He translated this passion into a lifelong career of serving associations who support those who are aging, their families, and other vulnerable populations seeking access to quality health care. “I am grateful to work with association leaders and professionals who care deeply about their work and each other,” Steve notes. “It’s an incredible and powerful partnership.”

Steve earned his bachelor’s in public relations with a minor in gerontology before obtaining a master’s in organizational communication and aging (gerontology). He worked for the Alzheimer’s Association National Office and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation before joining AMC in 2007.

2.21: Driving Agility and Innovation with Kathleen O’Loughlin

2.21: Driving Agility and Innovation with Kathleen O’Loughlin

Kathleen O’Loughlin, DMD MPH CAE, began honing her leadership skills early in the professional life. Dr. O’Loughlin was the first female dental school class president and a valedictorian at Tufts University. Today she is a nationally recognized executive in the health care, nonprofit, and association management. Along the way, she has discovered the importance of creative and critical thinking. In this Conversation by Association, discover the importance of taking the road less traveled and the power of innovation. From equal pay to re-imagined membership models, Dr. O’Loughlin finds ways to leverage her talents, resources and influence to improve outcomes for organizations like the American Dental Association. You’ll feel energized and empowered by the end of the episode!

Kathy O’Loughlin, DMD MPH CAE
Executive Director, American Dental Association 

“I think the idea that associations are merely a collection of individual members and they don’t need to behave as well-run efficient businesses is kind of old school.”

Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin is the executive director of the American Dental Association (ADA), the nation’s leading advocate for oral health. She joined the ADA in 2009 after serving as the chief dental officer for United Health Group and as the chief executive officer for Delta Dental of Massachusetts.

She is a nationally recognized leader in the healthcare, nonprofit, and education sectors, and she speaks around the country about the profession of dentistry, oral healthcare delivery, and public health policy.

Kathy was the first female dental school class president and valedictorian of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)? Books, networking, management/business courses, Harvard Business Review Resources, Board Source, Association Forum of Chicago Land, and the American Society of Association Executives

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? Volunteer leadership—their passion and enthusiasm for the mission

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Always put a volunteer between you and a decision.

2.20: Identifying Personal and Professional Allies with Nancy Ukpe Gargula

2.20: Identifying Personal and Professional Allies with Nancy Ukpe Gargula

Nancy Ukpe Gargula joins us to share her experiences from her first year in the association industry as well as insights from her work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nancy’s insights address a range of topics include ways to connect with others when you are new to your organization to how to slow down and consider what your members need to create and nurture equity. Her insights open doors to new approaches and actions. Nancy reminds us it is important to learn from our mistakes keep moving forward. Listen and enjoy in Nancy’s pointers and perspective!

Nancy Ukpe Gargula, MA
Manager of the People and Culture Department, MacArthur Foundation

“It takes time, and there are missteps when you’re building something from the ground up. There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be failures, but you learn from them, and you course correct.”

Nancy Ukpe Gargula serves as the manager in the people and culture department at the MacArthur Foundation. In her role she works across the Foundation to ensure a positive and inclusive culture exists and researches organizational best practices that help create an environment where all staff can grow and thrive.

Nancy brings more than 10 years of experience aligning organizational brand to staff culture, developing leaders at all levels, employing tools and resources to help employees fully engage and thrive in their work, and bringing a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the systems and processes of an organization. In her previous roles, Nancy led the diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy for the Institute of Food Technologists where she worked with staff and members to determine best practices and opportunities to be more inclusive in operations. In addition, she worked with the YMCA of the USA (YMCA national resource office) training and developing leaders at all levels to bring the cause of the YMCA to life for their staff and members.

A native New Yorker, Nancy currently lives in Chicago with her husband and enjoys volunteering with community organizations, serving as a connector to early career professionals, practicing yoga, and traveling the world to experience new cultures and cuisines.

 Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)? People have been very valuable for me, meaning my network of D&I practitioners and association professionals has helped be to better understand the association ecosystem and find helpful resources and tools to advance D&I at my organization. In addition, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and two in particular that help me in the day to day are Harvard Business Review’s Ideacast and Work Life by Adam Grant. I read a lot of books on race relations and its impact on society. One book that I think should be a recommended read for everyone is White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. I think we are all on our own journey when it comes to feeling comfortable talking about race, and this book examines how to have the conversation and provides action steps for engaging others. Another book I recently read that I think is great for those who bring people together whether for team meetings or national conferences is called The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters by Priya Parker. It has transformed my old thinking of why certain traditions of gathering exists and has inspired me to create new meaning and bring in an inclusive lens.

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? For me, it’s meeting and connecting with people who all are working collectively to provide professionals in our respective industries with the knowledge, tools, and resources to better the world.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? It’s actually a quote from the late Carrie Fisher, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” I try to live out this quote in my professional and personal life. Another piece of advice I received from a mentor was to dream big and take up space. Playing small benefits no one.

2.19: Take Action: Invest in Your Career

2.19: Take Action: Invest in Your Career

This season we’re adding mini episodes that help you Take Action on the insights from guests, and some of the most crucial aspects of developing your network, building skills, and leading in your career. Each Take Action episode will be focused on a tool that makes action easier and drives towards positive results that you can download on the Conversations by Association website.

“Build something new, help people build a particular skill, think about developing opportunities your peers maybe aren’t getting.”

Throughout the season we’ve heard leaders in the field share ways that they connect with their peers and network to constantly develop skills that benefit their career. On this Take Action Mini Episode we share ideas for connecting more comfortably and consistently to advance your career!

Other Resources

Download the Career worksheet.

2.18: Building a Career and Community with Amy Sherwood and Melissa Walling

2.18: Building a Career and Community with Amy Sherwood and Melissa Walling

Amy Sherwood and Melissa Walling share their experiences and advice on how they have built their careers and communities. This dynamic duo is both passionate about connecting with their members, association colleagues, and looking for new opportunities to develop their skills. Their intelligence, warmth, and drive shine through in their creative approaches to be constantly growing in the career you love. Listen in to hear them say it best!

Amy Sherwood, CAE
Executive Director, Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON)

“I think transparency and communication are critical and involving your staff as much is appropriate in decision making creates buy-in, but they’re included in the process and inclusion is very important.”

Amy Sherwood is the executive director of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON). She started her association career in 2005 at the Association Management Center (AMC) as an administrator and quickly advanced to senior manager roles with several client partners, including APHON, the American Pain Society, Metal Construction Association, National Frame Building Association, and Metal Roofing Alliance. After five and a half years with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Amy returned to AMC to lead APHON.

Amy received her bachelor’s degree in business and corporate communications from Northern Illinois University. She credits earning her CAE as one of her proudest career accomplishments because it demonstrates her commitment to association management and connects her with other dedicated association professionals. Amy is a proud member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Association Forum. She is also an ASAE Leadership Academy graduate, an Association Forum CAE Study Course Facilitator, ASAE Healthcare Community Advisory Committee member and received a Forty Under 40 Award from ASAE and USAE.

Outside of the office, Amy enjoys crafting with various media and running with her sister.

Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)? Being a CAE study course facilitator keeps me on my game! I find that I am frequently consulting Professional Practices in Association Management as well as the Association Law Handbook—the authorities on the critical areas of association and nonprofit management. I am a regular at ASAE’s Annual Meeting and most enjoy the exchanges I have bouncing ideas off old friends and colleagues in addition to making new association connections.

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? I love the variety that the association management field offers. Not only for the members (there really is an association for EVERYTHING), but for the staff, too. As a staff member there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to stretch your skillset and be creative in varying roles and projects.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “You are never going to feel ready for anything. You just have to go do it.”—My father, Phil Sherwood (and Nike???)

Melissa Walling, CAE IOM
Director of Membership Development and Customer Service, American Library Association

“At the end of the day, I think it’s really about listening, evolving, and understanding the culture and the unique aspect that each of the associations have.”

Melissa Walling is the director of membership and customer service at the American Library Association (ALA). In her current role, Melissa supports the 60,000-member community that works to advance libraries and their pivotal role in communities. Although she is new to the ALA, Melissa has been working in the association community for more than 15 years and has previously held roles with Association Forum, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Institute of Real Estate Management. She also is pursuing her Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When not at the ALA, Melissa can be found trying new recipes, running on the lakefront, or planning her next international trip.

2.17: Innovating Organizational Culture with Debra BenAvram

2.17: Innovating Organizational Culture with Debra BenAvram

Debra BenAvram juggles many complex situations and takes on challenging issues—it’s the nature of her work and what she does exceptionally well. In order to stay focused on what matters most, she has learned to focus first on innovation and organizational leadership. Her approach is simple. Be intentional and remove obstacles that get in the way or that slow down high priority work within the association. From removing yearly reviews and replacing them with real time feedback, to helping others see their potential, Debra is always on the lookout for ways to strengthen individuals and the culture in which they work. This conversation will inspire you to rethink how you approach your work and your role as a manager and leader.

Debra BenAvram, FASAE CAE
Chief Executive Officer, AABB [formally the American Association of Blood Banks]

“We have to move away from the traditional review and move to a model of constant feedback, dialogue, and engagement with our employees.” 

Debra BenAvram is the chief executive officer of AABB, headquartered in Bethesda, MD. AABB, formerly called the American Association of Blood Banks, is an international society focused on advancing transfusion medicine and cellular therapy worldwide.

Debra joined AABB in 2018, following more than 16 years leading the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), including 11 years as its chief executive officer. She has a strong passion for redesigning staff and volunteer cultures to support integration among all team members and eliminate silos. Debra frequently presents on topics including organizational culture, performance management, and her innovative approaches to encouraging and maintaining collaboration, communication, and a valued work environment.

Debra received a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a concentration in business from the University of Maryland. She received her Master of Science degree in educational leadership with an emphasis on leadership and organizational culture from Miami University. She also earned a certificate in executive leadership from Cornell University. An active volunteer leader, Debra is a fellow of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a past member of the ASAE Board of Directors. She also is on the board of directors for the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice, a national organization dedicated to enhancing advocacy for survivors of intimate partner violence.

Debra has received several awards for her work, including being listed as one of CEO Update’s Top CEOs and the Washington Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Business Leaders. In 2010, she was recognized with ASAE’s Emerging Leader Award, Women Who Promote Excellence in Associations.

Debra lives in Bethesda, MD, with her husband, Vincent; son, Lev (16); daughter, Paz (8); and their lovable pound pup, Masha.

Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)? Colleagues, peer groups (create one today!), preparation for the Certified Association Executive credential exam, Abolishing Performance Appraisals by Coens & Jenkins, Blinkist, and podcasts (Business Wars, Dear HBR, The $100MBA Show)

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? Having a strong connection to a mission; being engrained in so many communities: the organization’s communities, the staff community, the broader association community; and working with association colleagues

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Fake it till you make it,” and own your strengths and leverage the, instead of struggling against them.

2.16: Take Action: Develop Your Personal Advisory Board 

2.16: Take Action: Develop Your Personal Advisory Board 

This season we’re adding mini episodes that help you Take Action on the insights from guests, and some of the most crucial aspects of developing your network, building skills, and leading in your career. Each Take Action episode will be focused on a tool that makes action easier and drives towards positive results that you can download on the Conversations by Association website.

“Creating variety of who you lean on and who you ask to be a sounding board for different phases and responsibilities throughout your career, gives you the additional tools you need to leverage along the way.”

Growth happens when we challenge ourselves to get a bit uncomfortable and ask for help where someone else sees things differently, so we have new information to consider and work with along the way. This means that we should all be seeking input and advice along our career path from a variety of different sources. Think of it as your personal advisory board. This episode will help you consider what sources you need to invite into your growth, and how to benefit most from their advice!

Other Resources

Download the Developing your Advisory Board worksheet.

2.15: Leading to your Career Passion with Catherine Johannesen

2.15: Leading to your Career Passion with Catherine Johannesen

Catherine (Cathy) Johannesen shares her journey from viewing a position as a job to a career long passion. Her well-navigated career blends aspects of how to find the balance between what you want in your personal life and your career, and balance that what you want will look different over time. With an eye on constant learning and development, Cathy guides her team members to do the same, and helps make Med Chi feel like a home instead of just an employer. Her deep self awareness of her own strengths, the strengths of her team members, and the potential for growth will help leaders consider new perspectives and individuals look through a new lens on how they can examine their next steps! Listen in for ideas on having some of the most important conversations in your career!

Catherine Johannesen
Chief of Staff at MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society

“As much as I want to educate myself on resources for my own use, I want to do that for my team as well.”

Catherine Johannesen is the chief of staff of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society. Cathy has spent her entire professional career in organized medicine and has been with MedChi since 2001. Her work at MedChi is primarily focused on strategic planning, staff leadership and development, communications, and governance. Cathy manages MedChi’s Board of Trustees, House of Delegates, and AMA Delegation in addition to overseeing the Society’s education, non-dues revenue, event planning, and association management divisions. Cathy serves actively with the American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE) as member of the board of directors, finance committee, annual conference planning committee, and several special-interest workgroups. She is an alumnus of the association’s leadership academy and has a particular interest in mindfulness and leadership.

Other Resources

What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help your professional development (i.e. books, courses, trainings, assessments, magazines, thought leaders, etc.)?

  • AAMSE, especially the annual conference and the leadership academy. Not only is the educational content incredibly useful, but the peer networking has been absolutely invaluable. I learn so much from my colleagues and really lean on them for mentorship and growth.
  • American Society of Association Executives courses
  • ASAE Handbook of Professional Practice in Association Management
  • Thrive Global—They offer a lot of resources and content on productivity, stress relief, wellness, self-care, and professional development.
  • Clifton StrengthFinder assessment—I’m primarily a relator and have found it helpful to understand this part of my personality.

What is your favorite aspect of the association management field? I love that we are mission driven. Our decisions ultimately are guided by our mission rather than our bottom line or cynical motivations. This is specific to our particular type of professional association, but I love working for physicians. They are inherently ambitious and motivated people, and I absolutely love that the work I do helps them reach their professional goals. With my current mindset being very focused on professional growth, I find it incredibly rewarding to support that growth for others.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Be ambitious and go for it.” It sounds trite, I know. But the right person at the right time encouraged me to figure out what my ambition is and to lean into any available opportunity that would get me there. I have experienced incredible growth over the past few years, with more to come, and I trace a lot of that back to that one conversation.

2.14: Catalyzing your Career with Lakisha Ann Woods

2.14: Catalyzing your Career with Lakisha Ann Woods

From being a change agent in organizations to catalyzing her own career, Lakisha Ann Woods is a thoughtful and aware energizer. She is a superb example of leveraging the strengths of her team members, elevating others in their expertise, and learning to communicate in ways to meet people where they are most comfortable. Lakisha graciously shares her knowledge and experiences as a leader with others through various platforms, including candid articles posted on LinkedIn. She addresses how she has uses her voice, and how she helps others find theirs. Take advantage of this opportunity to hear her amazing insights and reflections!

Lakisha Woods, CAE
President and Chief Executive Officer, The National Institute of Building Sciences

“The ability to strengthen communication is always critical.”

Lakisha Ann Woods is president and chief executive officer of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). Lakisha is responsible for leading the Institute’s dedicated team of professionals, enhancing its value and visibility, and growing relationships with its members, clients, public agencies, and partners. She also leads efforts to expand the organization’s programs and markets while growing and strengthening its membership base.

Prior to joining NIBS, she was the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) where she oversaw a 27-member team responsible for all marketing and revenue-generating programs including sponsorship sales and partnerships with major national companies.

Lakisha currently serves on the board of directors for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), is past chair of ASAE’s Communications Section Council, and has spoken at national and international industry events. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland in College Park and lives with her husband and daughter in Howard County Maryland.

Lakisha has been featured in several articles including the following:

2.13: Creating a Culture of Organizational Success with Arlene Pietranton

2.13: Creating a Culture of Organizational Success with Arlene Pietranton

From reasonable risks to helping individuals get heard on their ideas, Arlene Pietranton is a thoughtful leader, who started her career as a speech pathologist and traveled the path to ASHA CEO. Within her time at ASHA she has developed an awareness of sourcing the best ideas for innovation, facilitated a mindful culture, and made some tough decisions along the way. Listen in for Arlene’s voice as a valued mentor in the community, her calm and creative approach helps build others up and leads to innovative approaches!

Arlene Pietranton, PhD CAE
Executive Director, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

“I try to hold back, and listen first, and hear ideas that others may have. I know that I’ll always have the opportunity to weigh in on a topic or conversation,  and I’ll always have the option of requesting that my idea or thought  get incorporated. But I won’t have the benefit of knowing other people’s ideas, which often are better, if I’m too quick to start us down a path.”

Arlene A. Pietranton serves as chief executive officer of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 204,500 audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; and student, international, and support personnel affiliates. ASHA’s staff of 300 are based in the association’s Gold LEED–certified national office in Rockville, MD.

Before working at ASHA, Arlene was on staff at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC where she held several clinical and administrative positions as a speech-language pathologist and member of the medical center administration. She is an ASHA Fellow and past president of the District of Columbia Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Arlene is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and has collaborated with association executives throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia on association management and governance. She is an ASAE Fellow and a past chairperson of the ASAE Board of Directors. Arlene was recognized as a 2015 Top Association and Non-Profit Innovator, the 2015 Professional Society CEO of the Year by CEO Update, the 2018 Association Executive of the Year by Association Trends, and the 2018 ASAE Key Award recipient.

Arlene’s current volunteer and civic positions include serving as co-chair of the collective impact initiative Montgomery Moving Forward, chair of the ASAE Power of a Committee, and chair of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives Board of Directors.

Arlene earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology, Master of Arts in speech-language pathology, and PhD in psychology from the George Washington University. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two adult daughters. Her interests include international history and culture, reading, theater, travel, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.