Jamie D. Beaulieu, CAE

Director of Membership & Professional Development

Society for Neuroscience, Washington

From her nomination: Since her arrival [at SfN], Jamie has made a tremendous difference in the Society’s strategies and programs:

Jamie was an essential partner as SfN worked to reimagine membership from a “member service” mentality to one of member value, member onboarding, member retention and member engagement. All have grown during her tenure. Also, she became a key part of efforts to modernize SfN’s governance oversight of membership activities, intentionally connecting U.S. and international strategies and integrating our 150+ chapters more effectively.

Jamie has been a major catalyst to transform SfN’s professional development programming, and led efforts to intentionally connect that programming to the value of membership. Jamie seized the opportunity to work with volunteer leaders and other staff to rapidly reimagine and restructure how SfN would provide professional development programming. In short order, she took the function from providing mostly brick-and-‐mortar events and a few webinars annually, to a robust year-round program of online events, videos and chats. Just recently, she took the lead with colleagues to introduce a successful new model for SfN’s diversity programming. It integrated in‐person sessions, technology and online interaction, resulting in the first “hybrid” online conference that supported diverse scientists with in‐person experiences while communicating to the global neuroscience community the priority of increasing diversity.

Jamie provided crucial financial leadership for a large and complicated portfolio. The department was a locus for many of the Society’s externally funded programs and partnerships, including with long‐time private foundations, federal agencies and international partners. Within a year, once‐challenging, grant‐funded projects were reporting accurately and successfully on revenues and expenses, identifying areas of shortfall, and as important, identifying ways to redeploy available funds.

Throughout this time, Jamie has remained an active and engaged member of the ASAE community, maintaining her CAE status, attending regional and national ASAE events and serving as the chair of ASAE’s National Capitol Area Council 2016‐17 term. Former CAE Commission member.

Amalea Hijar, Program Director

Growth, MAPI, Washington

From her nominations: “In her 13 years working in association management, she has risen from coordinator to the level of senior staff at her current organization. Always a servant leader, Amalea has a reputation for being a workhorse who helps her colleagues get results. At the National Association of Charter School Authorizers she more than doubled revenues from advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors. While at the American Staffing Association she developed new techniques to increase member retention. And while at the American College of Cardiology and the MAPI she greatly increased the percentage of people participating in membership and engagement programs.”

“I needed a self-starter who could be calculated and think several layers deep, multi-task, plan ahead and produce! She delivered on all counts, and more.”

“She brings a level of energy and big-picture thinking to work that I haven’t seen in 150+ other colleagues. One of her strengths is that she remembers that nonprofits are businesses and should be treated as such – monitoring expenses and innovating with processes should not be limited to corporations or treated as perfunctory annual exercises.”

“As colleagues working in the association profession (I am a CEO), I am glad to know that the future is in the hands of someone like her.”

“Among her most recent accomplishments for the benefit of the association community:

– Publishing an ebook titled How to Create a Project Toolkit for Your Local Chapters, which is the most popular content on Association Success.org and was featured in several articles by ASAE. Also for this website, she will be a speaker in its virtual conference, running a session called “How to Effect Change No Matter Your Job Title.” She is a pioneer everywhere she goes.

– Asked to make videos for ASAE’s Working Smart series in which she provided career advice.

– Assisted ASAE with establishing its young association executives membership type and serving on the first Young Association Executives Council for two years, including as its communications chair.

– Serving on ASAE’s Component Relations Council for multiple years, including as chair.

Brandon Robinson, CAE

President, Association Management at Eisenman & Associates, and Executive Director

Virginia Society of Association Executives, Richmond, Va.

From his nomination:  Brandon currently serves as executive director of VSAE, the largest client of Eisenman & Associates, a Richmond-based association management company for which he is president. He joined Eisenman in 2014 as VP. His previous experience includes serving as assistant VP at Easter Associates, another Richmond-area AMC and a strong progression of experience at the Propane Education & Research Council during the formative years of his career.

What really distinguishes Brandon is his passion for association management. He has earned his Certified Association Executive credential, is very well read and always seeks out opportunities to engage in conversations about emerging trends and hot topics in the association profession. He is an effective volunteer, both as chair-elect of the Association Societies Alliance and is a past chair of ASAE’s Young Professionals Committee. As a participant in ASAE’s NextGen Association Summit, Brandon brought his passion, experience and insight to conversation to help bring them to a higher level. It has been a pleasure to watch Brandon’s career develop, and I cannot wait to follow his continued success well into the future.

In August 2017, TRENDS selected Robinson as an Extraordinary Executive along with VSAE chairman Scot McRoberts, who is executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. In the interview, Robinson was asked, “How did or are you going about determining what to change, what to keep, what to try?” He replied, “In my role as the executive director, I am constantly challenging the board to stay aligned to our vision, mission, and strategy. It seems simplistic and perhaps redundant in practice, though I am constantly asking the question, “does this help us realize our vision or is this part of our mission?”

Rhea M. Steele, MS, CAE, CIP, COO

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, Washington

From her nomination: She contributes to ASAE and the extended-association community in numerous volunteer roles, strategically improves the technology, operations, and bottom lines of every organization she has worked with over the past 12 years, and is guaranteed to continue to positively impact the association community and professionals because of her vision, leadership, tenacity, and authenticity.

Rhea first came onto the association scene as part of the 2006 ASAE Leadership Academy. One of her many volunteer roles was as chair of ASAE’s National Capitol Advisory Council, where she led the transition of the Greater Washington Committee from having a tactical, implementation focus to a strategic advisory group strongly aligned with ASAE’s mission. Her numerous volunteer contributions demonstrate a commitment to the association profession and align with her role as a mentor to many of the Technology Section Council for ASAE. Earlier this year, she and several fellow technologists founded Association Women Technology Champions. 

In her current role as COO, in her first year, she led the board through a rewrite of the bylaws and creation of a Governance Policy manual to help strengthen its governance functions, while facilitating the organization’s strategic planning process. She also led the development of core values for the organization, which helped increase employee engagement and were incorporated into the most recent annual evaluation cycle. She just kicked off a data integration project that promises to usher in a new era of information sharing for CAEP.

While Director of IT and Operations, Council of Chief State School Officers, she led the organization through a foundational implementation of an Association Management System, which transformed the way CCSSO interacted with members and monitored relationships. She is relevant already and will continue to influence our great community positively for many years to come.

Rhea is the leader of a share group of 20+ COOs here in DC. She is one of the first people I seek counsel regarding anything related to technology. She is extremely adept at finding ways to increase efficiency and reduce expenses.

Melissa Walling, CAE, IOM

Vice President of Membership and Education, Association Forum of Chicagoland

From her nomination: Melissa was promoted in June 2017 after demonstrating strong results, commitment and accountability to deliver the mission of Association Forum.

In life, there are people who watch things happen and then there are those who make things happen.  Melissa has more than proven her ability to deliver an impact in every organization she has touched. She understands the value of associations and is passionate about association management as a career. This is demonstrated through receiving her CAE and IOM in the same year, 2011.  Melissa was in the inaugural class of ASAE’s Next Gen Summit in 2013. Her career accomplishments have only begun. 

Melissa’s commitment to service is not limited to associations. She joined the U.S. Peace Corps as an Organizational Management Consultant/Business Educator in 2001. There she managed eco-tourism initiatives and collaborated with volunteer boards in Ghana, West Africa.

Melissa brings a professionalism to the association community and is admired and sought out by many for advice and mentoring. Her respectful and dependable persona is appealing to Forum members across all sectors.  It is through her nurturing personality that the Forum has increased membership engagement and growth.

Her work experience includes:

  • Institute of Real Estate Management, 2005-14. Started as a membership coordinator and left as a Director, Customer and Member Services
  • American Academy of Pediatrics – 2014-16, Director, Division of Data & Analytics
  • Association Forum, 2016 – present.  VP reporting directly to the CEO
  • Active Volunteer with Association Forum prior to hiring in 2016.  She served in various capacities including three years as a Shared Interest Group Chair, part of the CAE Working Group, part of the Awards & Recognition Committee. In 2016, served as a mentor up for ASAE’s Next Gen Program. 


Carmen Elliott, MS

Payment Policy & Practice Management VP, American Physical Therapy Association

Over the past few years, APTA has been on a journey to be a solution in the move toward value-based pay- ment and to reform payment for physical therapist (PT) services. The need for payment and delivery system reform across healthcare is evident. Efforts to reduce health expenditures, improve quality of care, and enhance access to care is well underway. Recently, the physical therapy profession in particular was facing an uphill battle in being appropriately reimbursed for its providers’ services, because CMS was reviewing the procedure codes PTs use to report their services for payment as part of its efforts to find savings in Medicare expenditures. This two-year initiative entailed identifying codes as being potentially “misvalued” and reviewing them for possible adjustments to payment rates. Through collection of data and bringing the message of the value of physical therapy forward in a meaningful way, we were able to avoid cuts that would have been detrimental to the profession and patients it serves.

After numerous meetings with CMS, strategizing with our coalition groups, and rallying our membership base in demonstrating the value of rehabilitative services across the overall health care continuum, we were able to stave off the cuts to these vital services. We want to improve the health care experience for individuals. Staying focused on the triple aim of healthcare – improving health for individuals, improving healthcare for societies, and containing costs – helped us move the needle. 

In her words: First, advocating for a profession that is focused on optimizing movement to improve the quality of life in individuals is an honor. Physical therapists are an instrumental part of the healthcare system and provide critical services for improving individuals’ health and function across their lifespan. Second, in my leadership role, I am fortunate that I work in arenas that allow me to see perspectives from multiple viewpoints. What does that mean? Not only do I provide strategic direction in our advocacy and policy efforts with federal agencies and health insurance plans, but I also oversee and work closely with members in our practice management efforts, which is a business strategy intended to help our members overcome the challenges in today’s dynamic health care environment and adapt to the needs of our patients. Each area feeds into the other, which allows for us to better understand our policy needs and helps inform strategy. Last, we have a mantra at APTA- “Better together.” Advocacy requires teamwork. Through our collaborative efforts with our members, stakeholders, and coalition groups, we have made strides in ensuring our voice is heard and our patients have access to vital services. 

Joe M. Franco, MPS

Vice President, Grassroots, LeadingAge

Joe has been a leader in grassroots lobbying for well over a decade. He has helped to grow and lead the grassroots advocacy programs at the American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, American Diabetes Association and now currently at LeadingAge.

At LeadingAge, he leads the nationwide grassroots movement to help America’s seniors get the housing and healthcare they deserve. At the end of last year, he helped lead the successful grassroots lobbying effort to protect key provisions for seniors in the Tax Bill. Protecting these key housing and healthcare pieces is vital for seniors and this campaign helped to grow the advocate network at LeadingAge for future battles to protect key programs for older Americans.

As a grassroots professional, Joe has been a dedicated advocate in the healthcare and patient rights community and has helped to grow vast networks of passionate advocates. He has helped to lead grassroots campaigns that have passed smoke free laws in numerous states, increased funding for lifesaving research for cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes at the National Institutes of Health and fought to protect the healthcare and housing for America’s seniors.

Joe’s campaigns have been featured in publications nationwide and he managed the successful lobby day with the American Diabetes Association that was covered by The Hill, ESPN, USA Today and The Washington Post and won the first ever Reed Award for Best Lobby Day.

He is also a passionate advocate for promoting advocacy and is committed to educating the next generation of advocacy professionals and has served on numerous panels and seminars to help others hone their craft. He is passionate about advocacy education and serves on the board of the Grassroots Professional Network and helps promote and provide graduate advocacy fellowships by serving on the Alumni Advisory Board of the Bryce Harlow Foundation.

In his words: I have had the honor to work with an incredibly talented group of advocacy professionals throughout my career and they all should receive recognition for the incredible amount of work we have accomplished. The profession of lobbying is now more important than ever to our democracy and it is incredibly rewarding to work alongside passionate volunteer advocates who fight for change. With so many pressing issues in the world today, elected officials at the state and federal level are relying on advocacy staff and constituents to be informed about the needs of American citizens and how to best serve the interest of local communities. This year we have seen the incredible power of grassroots advocacy, especially in the healthcare debates and how organizations have been able to unite and make a difference on a fast moving and complicated legislative process. The human element of the legislative process will always be a critical piece of the lobbying equation and we have truly seen the power of a personal story in making policy changes in our country.

Matthew Haller, Government Relations and Public Affairs SVP

International Franchise Association

Haller has been instrumental in raising IFA’s legislative and advocacy profile in Washington on small business issues since joining the association in 2011. By bringing a campaign-style mentality to the issues facing its members, Haller invested heavily in building IFA’s Franchise Action Network, an army of franchise owners across the country who are ready and willing to be advocates for IFA at the federal, state and local levels on a host of challenges facing members, primarily in the labor space. When the National Labor Relations Board and Department of Labor changed the definition of a “joint employer,” putting franchisors on the hook for labor and employment violations potentially committed by their independent franchisees, that investment paid off.

Since then, IFA has galvanized the broader business community and allies on both sides of the aisle in Congress to protect the franchise business model — with 23 franchise owners testifying in Congress on the issue, nearly 100 in-district events with members of Congress, and hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Capitol Hill through a digital advocacy campaign. Eighteen states also have passed joint employer laws, protecting the franchise model as part of IFA’s multipronged campaign. In 2017, one of the Labor Department’s first actions was to eliminate the broader enforcement of the broader “joint employer” precedent, an early win for IFA in the Trump administration. Then in July, bipartisan legislation was unveiled by Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., to create a permanent statutory definition of joint employment, which appears to be high on the priority list for Congress to address this fall.

In his words: I have always loved the intersection of legislative and advocacy campaigns, from my first days at UPS starting out in Washington 15 years ago, and continuing on to help build the U.S. Chamber of Commerce political shop with Bill Miller and Rob Engstrom into the powerhouse that it remains today – understanding that “politics comes before policy.” Aggressively integrated advocacy has become essential in Washington, and I’ve tried to institutionalize that type of an approach at IFA as the organization has grown in revenue, the caliber of employee that we are looking to bring to the team and the profile of the issues we are dealing with on behalf of our members. I give all the credit in the world to my colleagues who I get the privilege of working with every day, and my former boss, Steve Caldeira, and now current CEO, Robert Cresanti, for embracing this approach. The best advice I ever received was from U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue  – “hire people smarter than you, and get out of the way.” You need all the players at the table – lobbyists, your PAC and political assets, grassroots, communications and research, in order to be most effective at winning on an issue. At an association, all of our jobs are one big campaign in support of a singular cause – in our case, protecting and promoting the franchise business model. I’m lucky to represent some of the best people out there – those who have started brands and grown them and those who have put their life savings on the line to start a franchise in every corner of America. [Editor’s note: Donohue is a past TRENDS Association Executive of the Year.]

Katie Vlietstra, Government Relations and Public Affairs VP

National Association for the Self-Employed

As I reflect over the past two years and the advocacy accomplishments of the National Association for the Self-Employed, I am struck with the breath of our advocacy and the impact we have made for the 27 million self-employed.  This past December, we were part of a broad and diverse coalition of business organizations, consumer groups, and industry experts that successfully attached legislation to the 21st Century Cures Act related to health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). This was a labor of love project that expanded almost four years! 

Our success reinforced that in Washington, you can get things done across the aisle if you are methodical, honest, and transparent.

We have been also incredibly effective in leveraging partnership opportunities on issues that are important to our members, but are not an area of expertise of our team. For example, the overtime rule proposed by the Obama Administration. While it was an issue of an importance to a segment of our membership, we did not have the internal expertise to go it alone and so we found a great partnership opportunity in joining a Coalition that was already carrying the water on the issue. For a smaller association, these opportunities to work with my colleagues across other associations is incredibly powerful.

In her words: I am a firm believer in the power of relationships. Identifying common advocacy goals across different types of associations and political spectrums is what makes working in Washington fun and professionally fulfilling. No doubt our work can be challenging and sometimes you might have the best public policy position, and you still can’t breathe through, but that is when you roll up your sleeves and find new paths to push your legislative priorities. I love what I do and I am lucky to do it on behalf of our great members!


  • 2018 – Arlene Pietranton
  • 2017 – Dawn Sweeney
  • 2016 – Jay Timmons
  • 2015 – John Engler
  • 2014 – Susan K. Neely
  • 2013 – John H. Graham IV, CAE
  • 2012 – Gary LaBranche, CAE
  • 2011 –  Barry C. Melancon, CPA
  • 2010 – VAdm Norbert R. Ryan, USN-Ret.
  • 2009 – Connie Tipton
  • 2008 – Roger Dow
  • 2007 – Thomas J. Donohue
  • 2006 – H. Cris Collie III, CAE
  • 2005 – Anne L. Bryant, EdD, CAE
  • 2004 – Steven C. Anderson, CAE
  • 2003 – Neil Offen, CAE
  • 2002 – Barbara Belmont, CAE
  • 2001 – John “Jack” Cox, CAE
  • 2000 – Thomas R. Kuhn, CAE
  • 1999 – Quincalee Brown, CAE


  • 1998 – Frank McCarthy
  • 1997 – Red Cavaney, CAE
  • 1996 – R. William Taylor, CAE
  • 1995 – Ray Roper, CAE
  • 1994 – Richard L. Lesher, CAE
  • 1993 – William D. Nelligan, CAE
  • 1993 – Robert A. Roland
  • 1992 – William E. Smith
  • 1991 – Clifford M. Clarke, CAE
  • 1990 – Rod L. Geer, CAE, CLU
  • 1989 – Meredith R. Smith, CAE
  • 1988 – John W. Johnson, CAE
  • 1987 – Hugh McCahey*
  • 1986 – John N. Bailey, CAE
  • 1985 – Bernard J. Imming, CAE
  • 1984 – Kinsey Bass Green, CAE
  • 1983 – Bud Meredith, CAE
  • 1982 – Mortimer B. Doyle, CAE
  • 1981 – P.D. “Bud” Hermann, CAE
  • 1980 – James P. Low, CAE