Reverently referred to as “The granddaddy of them all,” by Association Executive of the Year, Matt Shay, The Salute to Association Excellence, took place on March 22, 2019, at the Capital Hilton, in Washington D.C. This annual event was special for so many reasons, one being because it celebrated its 40th year honoring the best and brightest in the association community.
Association TRENDS commemorated 40 years with over 500 attendees, new association community members, and a record number of past honorees, including Connie Tipton, Loretta DeLuca, Gary LaBranche, Allen Haney, Steven C. Anderson, John Graham, Jay Timmons, Thomas J. Donohue, and Dawn Sweeny.
The event kicked off with the announcement of the All Media Contest winners. The All Media Contest celebrates the best and most unique association communications and marketing work from the previous year. There are 23 categories including best website, social media campaign, best new app, convention program, monthly newsletter, eLearning & live training, and more! This year’s judges were blown away by the incredible entries. The winner of the All Media Contest Pinnacle Award went to the National Funeral Directors Association’s video “For all you do”. Check out that video, here!
It was then time to announce the 2019 Young and Aspiring Professionals. Gabriel Eckert, a former Young & Aspiring winner who is now the executive director of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Georgia, was there to welcome the winners on stage. This year’s class included Rupa Brosseau, Director of FAER and American Society of Anesthesiologists, Benjamin Connors, President of General Building Contractors Association, Lindsay Currie, Director of Stakeholder Engagement or Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, Claire Mysko, CEO of National Eating Disorders Association, Brandie Thacker, AAP, Vice President and Communications & Member Support at EPCOR, and Tadu Yimam, Senior Director, Online Learning & Publications at the National Association of College & University Business Officers.
Next, the 2019 Leading Association Lobbyists were announced by David Rehr, professor of Public Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University. Honorees included Lance Claiborne, Director, Industry Relations at General Building Contractors Association, Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, Vice President of Public Policy at ASAE, Shane Downey, Vice President of Government Relations at The Global Business Travel Association, Joshua Habursky, Assistant Vice President of Advocacy at Independent Community Bankers of America, Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, Director of Military and Veterans Health Policy at American Psychological Association, and Sean Murphy, Vice President, Advocacy and General Counsel at American Association of Orthodontists.
This year’s Association Partner of the Year honor went to Gayathri Kher, the president and co-founder of fusionSpan. Gayathri received the honor with wonderful sentiments, thanking her company, her family, and letting the crowd know that this award was to be shared among them all. She also spoke about the joys of working in, with, and amongst the association community, why it was important to her, and the excitement she held for the future.
The top honor of Association Executive of the Year was awarded to Matt Shay, the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. It was incredibly moving to hear about Matt’s journey to the NRF. He spoke about important lessons he’s learned along the way, the importance of speaking with your own voice, and looking at your life, not as things you have to do but things you get to do. He ended his speech on these sentiments stating, “What I would say to this next generation of association leaders we saw up here today is I hope that you’ll find the association field as diverse, rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling as I have and I hope that we get to keep doing this for a very long time because I love what I get to do and the people I get to do it with. And I hope that you all recognize that you get to do it and that you enjoy the walk.”
Thank you to all our incredible sponsors, partners, and attendees for making the 40th anniversary of the Salute to Association Excellence so memorable and so special. We look forward to seeing you next year at our 41st celebration!