November 24, 2017
    New Texas Society of Association Executives chief Steven Stout, CAE - the interview!

    Past TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional will join TSAE on Nov. 28


    Steven Stout, CAE, will become executive director of the Texas Society of Association Executives, effective Nov. 28. He succeeds Beth Brooks, CAE, who departed earlier this year.

    Stout is a TRENDS 2015 Young & Aspiring Association Professional. He had been on staff at Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals for 14 years, most recently as the meetings & special events director. In this role, he oversaw HITEC, the world's largest conference dedicated specifically to hospitality technology.

    Stout was a TSAE 2011-14 board member. In addition to being a past TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional, his other activities in the association community include ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program scholar; TSAE Young Professional Leadership Award recipient, and Association Forum's 40 Under 40 honoree. He has served on numerous councils for both TSAE and ASAE.

    He earned a bachelor’s degree in business communication and public relations at Baylor University. He earned the CAE designation in 2009.

    Following Stout shared his plans and thoughts on being named the TSAE executive director.

    You’ve been multi-honored as a leader in the association space, including as a TRENDS 2015 Young & Aspiring Association Professional, which was an extremely strong class. What do you believe are your freshest qualities that you will bring to Texas Society of Association Executives?

    Innovation and strategic creativity. I have a deep passion for TSAE and the association industry, and I look forward to bringing these qualities to my role as executive director. TSAE and its network of professionals have helped me grow in the association space for the past 10 years, and I am excited about having the opportunity to build on that momentum. 

    What do you believe are the milestones of your career path that got you where you are today?

    Being selected as a DELP scholar within ASAE in 2008-09 was a definite milestone. That group of 10 people have all gone on to do amazing things, which only pushed me to do the same.

    Also, serving on the TSAE board of directors (2011-14) as one of its youngest members and only non-CEO member at the time was an amazing experience. I sat at the table with some of the biggest names in the Texas association space, and they all welcomed my ideas and input with open minds. I learned so much with that group and was grateful for the experience.

    Finally, of course, is being named an Association TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional last year. That is one of those distinctions that has catapulted many careers. It's always nice to be recognized by leading association groups of which you are a member of, but to have an industry publication single you out with such a small group as someone to watch in the association space is particularly notable. 

    TSAE covers one of the largest areas for a society of association executives, and has a reputation of being one of the most active. How does that make you feel going in as the new executive director? 

    Excited! TSAE members are some of the most passionate association executives I have come across as well as some of the most active in volunteer roles. I know this from being a member for the past 10 years. 

    At a time when we’ve seen associations contract, merge, redefine or change in some way to stay relevant and afloat, where do you see TSAE going in the next year, three years, five years? How is it going to get there? Is any of this a mandate from the TSAE board? Did they give you a mandate?

    I see TSAE as a diverse community of association professionals from the chief staff officers to the coordinators who are on the front line. I want everyone to know - no matter who you are -  you have a place within TSAE and our community will be better for it. This aligns with one of the strategic initiatives the board has lined out, which is to develop leaders at all levels in their careers. The board has set other clear goals with our other initiative, which includes establishing and promoting our brand, increasing and diversifying revenue to support the TSAE mission, and modeling organizational excellence for our members. With their support and the great base of volunteers and experienced staff, I know we can achieve these in the coming years.

    When you were named a TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional, you said as a goal you wanted to write a guide for those wanting to get into association management. What would be the most challenging chapter for you to write in such a book?

    The most challenging chapter would be how to network. This is not a skill taught in school or something you can really learn about in a book. In our changing world of how we interact with each other, networking was a skill that did not come easy and one I really had to work to improve. I had to fight the urge to hide in my smartphone in the corner and tweet about the experience when I should be going around the room shaking hands. 

    Luckily, I had some amazing friends and colleagues early in my TSAE and ASAE involvement who made an effort to take me around the room and make sure I knew everyone's name and that they knew mine. They saw something in me to put their own reputation on the line to introduce me to the major players and not everyone has that person, so learning how to do that for yourself is a hard skill to teach and would definitely prove the most challenging to write. 

    Your background is in meetings management for an association in the hospitality space. Was that part of the reason you got this new job, to maintain and grow the support of the meetings community of TSAE? How big of a role will meetings partnerships play in TSAE moving forward? 

    I think my experience in the meetings industry is definitely a benefit. The hospitality industry is very supportive of TSAE and we have terrific partners who help us provide premier experiences for our members. I look forward to using my skills and relationships to maintain and support our existing partnerships while growing new ones. 

    But beyond my meeting experience, I was fortunate enough at my old association to have worked in many departments over 14 years, with events being the most recent. I spent time in membership, certification and governance before then. I believe all of these experiences, plus my TSAE and ASAE involvement, gave me great foundations to be a well-rounded executive director that can relate to the challenges all of our members face and build relationships in a variety of areas.

    After you’ve completed your first year as TSAE executive director, what is the one word you hope will best describe it?


    Association TRENDS