The December episode of ASAE’s Stronger by Association podcast addresses Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the association community.

Among our guests are Irving Washington, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director at Online News Association and Donte Shannon, FASAE, CAE, CEO at Association of Equipment Management Professionals, two of the co-founders of Texts to Table. Texts to Table is a series of conversations with four Black CEOs, joining together to reflect on today’s political climate, focusing on race within leadership. Washington and Shannon discuss how each handled the murder of George Floyd personally and professionally, and how the association community might change in the future. “If you look from a CEO perspective, this is a time for you to really test relationships, and if you don’t have them you can’t build them overnight,” said Washington.

“I really see The Power of A being able to push and change diversity and inclusion because there are so many associations who impact legislation, who are sitting in rooms with presidents of the United States, or are so closely tied to state legislators,” Shannon said. “That really is where change is going to start happening. We have to see associations doing more and being more cognizant of how they are coming to the table, what they are speaking about when they are at these tables.”

Janet Smith, president of the Ivy Planning Group, also joined the podcast to discuss how organizations are sustaining DEI initiatives with meaning and purpose. “I don’t think we should start with the training piece until we are able to discern if we have a skill problem, or do we have a ‘will’ problem,” said Smith. “Quite often we move first to skill with training without really assessing, do we have the will to do this?”

The podcast also welcomed ASAE’s Cortney Whitlow, Manager, Meeting Registration & Industry Partner Engagement, who brought life to ASAE’s Black Moments in Film program which impacted the ASAE staff in immeasurable ways. Whitlow said, “We realized we needed an opportunity and a platform to learn, to raise awareness, and to really deepen on our empathy.”

The podcast episode is hosted by Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, ASAE’s SVP of Public Policy and Robb Lee, ASAE’s Chief Marketing and Product Strategy Officer, who also leads ASAE’s DEI work. ASAE’s Stronger by Association podcast can be found on The Power of A website or any podcast app.

In addition to listening, we encourage you to share and post the episode within your circles of influence, so others can learn more about our passionate and dedicated community. We also would appreciate you letting us know if you have any questions or suggestions for the podcast.  If so, please email