We’ve been using this site to keep association professionals informed and engaged in a dialogue around healthcare reform, which is by far the top priority for Congress and the administration right now and an issue in which plenty of associations have a stake.

Apart from analyzing and influencing policy, however, there is a strong public benefit component to what associations do on a daily basis. That’s why associations are typically granted tax-exempt status, and a big reason why they’re so important and engrained in the fabric of our society. If you saw the TV ad for The Power of A (which ran from April through Memorial Day weekend in the Metro Washington region), you know that the goal of the campaign was to remind policymakers that associations are tremendous resources for solving pressing problems in this country.

ASAE showcases the public benefit role of associations through its Associations Advance America Awards program. We recently completed the second and final round of judging for the 2009 Awards, and we want to congratulate 17 associations who received ASAE’s Award of Excellence. These award-winning programs will be up for consideration for ASAE’s highest honor, the Summit Award, to be announced in July.

They also give policymakers and other opinion leaders some specific examples of how associations promote volunteerism and community service, and improve the quality of life enjoyed in communities across the country. Congratulations to these 17 Award of Excellence winners for 2009:

American Academy of Dermatology
Program: AAD Camp Discovery

American Academy of Dermatology
Program: National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening Program

American Academy of Ophthalmology
Program: EyeCare America (ECA) Seniors EyeCare Program

American Beverage Association
Program: National School Beverage Guidelines

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Program: 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Program: Feed the Pig

American Library Association
Program: Smart investing@ your library

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Program: Listen to Your Buds

Association Management Center
Program: Solid Rock Carpenters

Civitan International
Program: Civitan International Research Center

Illinois Certified Public Accountants Society
Program: Military Service Tax Preparation Project

Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico
Program: SafeTeen New Mexico

New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians
Program: Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screening

Professional Landscape Network
Program:  PLANET”s Renewal & Remembrance

Safari Club International Foundation
Program: Sportsmen Against Hunger

School Nutrition Association
Program: Power Up With School Breakfast

Texas Land Title Association
Program: Texas Courthouse Restoration Stewardship Initiative