There are many professional benefits to attending American Associations Day, not the least of which is building relationships with members of Congress and their staff from your state. These meetings can be the beginning of an important partnership for working issues of mutual interest.
However, the ASAE fly-in also provides association professionals with the opportunity to set aside the agendas of their members and advance the issues important to the profession of association management. Andrea S. Rutledge, CAE, is the executive director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Although the NAAB does not engage in lobbying or political activity, Andrea sees the annual fly-in as an opportunity to be a member of ASAE and to work with her association colleagues on issues that are important to associations in general. When she was asked why she values attending American Associations Day, this was her response:
As a long-time resident of the DC area and a veteran Congress watcher, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of participating in the annual fly-in. Associations with local zip codes have the advantage of spending time on Capitol Hill any time they like – it is just a METRO ride away – to talk about the issues and legislation that are important to their members. However, the fly-in offers each of us “locals” the opportunity to come to the Hill as a member of ASAE and to talk about the issues that are important to us as professionals. It is a very different experience to sit in a members’ office and talk about the economic value of associations, as I did last year. For the 30 or so minutes we sat with Representative Steny Hoyer’s aide, we talked about what was important to non-profit organizations rather than the discrete issues that were important to our members. It only cost me an afternoon away from my office, email, and the phone, but I got to walk and talk with my colleagues in association management about what mattered to managing our organizations. There is power in numbers – that’s why associations exist – and standing together as members of the same association with a common agenda was an affirming and important experience. In the time it took to walk from the Capitol to the House office buildings, I saw the Power of A at work on the personal level. The day after the fly-in, each of you may be back to talk with the members about health care, energy, tax policy, financial industry regulation, or defense spending. For this one afternoon, however, we can all stand together as association professionals seeking common goals and speaking in a common voice.
Association executives, staff, and volunteer leaders can make those important connections at American Associations Day, March 23-24, 2010. Please take a moment to register for the event and apply for a scholarship, view the schedule of events, and even download a guide to why you should attend the event.