2022 ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Joseph M. McGuire
President and CEO
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
2022 ASSOCIATION PARTNER OF THE YEAR
President and CRO
2022 YOUNG & ASPIRING PROFESSIONALS
Director, State Association Management & Membership
National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
S’Neta A. Benefield has passionately served the association industry as relationship and process developer, program manager and member influencer for nearly 20 years, working with complex and diverse organizations. S’Neta is currently bringing about change in the world of professional insurance, as the Director of State Association Management and Membership with the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National). A role where she both serves as Executive Director of PIA of Florida (an affiliate association) and is leading the charge to develop an affiliate services portfolio inclusive of curating DEI initiatives, affiliate leadership education and operational support from National.
S’Neta has dedicated her career to impacting society through creating and implementing member experiences leading to independent business growth and industry evolution. Before joining PIA National, she managed the planning, development, presentation, and evaluation of intricate endeavors such as the redesign of the North American boards’ and affiliates’ structures with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). As the product of a military family, she embodies global citizenship and serves associations with the idea that we are all one community and therefore must all work as one to better the community. Expect to see, S’Neta refreshing the “normal” process in favor of what members are craving of their Association.
S’Neta has been recently recognized as an association professional with the 2019 Forty Under 40® Award by Association Forum of Chicagoland, an honor that distinguishes 40 up-and-coming association and nonprofit professionals who demonstrate a high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management profession. She serves as an officer on the board of directors for the AmeriCorps Alumni DC chapter as well as Athletes Without Borders and in addition to being active in local alumni chapters of her alma mater, Ball State University and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. S’Neta has a Bachelor of Arts degree concentrated in Asian Studies, Communication, & Japanese.
President and CEO
Retail Council of New York State
As president and CEO, Melissa O’Connor oversees daily operations of the Retail Council and manages the government relations program. In this role, she serves as the voice of the retail industry by taking members’ concerns and ideas directly to New York State’s governor, attorney general, legislature and regulatory agencies.
Ms. O’Connor joined the Retail Council as government relations associate in 2005. She was promoted to assistant director of government relations in 2010, executive vice president and director of government relations in 2014, and president and CEO in 2020. Prior to joining the Council, she was an intern with the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, where she researched proposed legislation and current laws, as well as various grants and fundraising opportunities.
Ms. O’Connor holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and a master’s in business administration from the College of Saint Rose. She resides in Latham, New York with her husband and two children.
Senior Manager, Membership Marketing
Association for Talent Development
Allison Rafti serves as the Senior Manager, Membership Marketing at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). In this role she blends marketing and membership engagement strategy to serve a growing community of talent development professionals. Throughout her association-focused career, she has taken on membership restructuring challenges, built mentorship and engagement programs, and launched member-communities.
Before joining ATD, Allison gained extensive experience in membership strategy at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation before expanding her membership and marketing range during her tenure at the Council on Foundations. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University, and a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University.
She is an enthusiastic and hardworking communication professional with a constituent-serving focus and eye for sharp membership engagement.
Director, Career Management Resources
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Alexis Redmond, JD, MA, CAE, has spent the last eight years in association management and has worked with community-based nonprofit organizations for over a decade. She has a diverse background in law, volunteer management, professional development, marketing, and sales. She has recently joined the Manufacturers Alliance after spending seven years with American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). While there, Alexis worked on award-winning projects such as the ASHA Marketing Solutions website redesign and the development of the ASHA Career Portal.
Alexis is an active ASAE volunteer and thought leader. Outside of Alexis’s work within the association community, she is a member of the Family Services Committee with Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland. She is a 2020-2022 ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Scholar, a 2019 Association Forum and USAE Forty under 40 award recipient, and a 2019 ASAE NextGen Scholar. In addition, Alexis is a licensed attorney with the State Bar of Michigan and became a Certified Association Executive in January 2020.
Director, Meetings and Conferences
American Anthropological Association
Nate Wambold, CMP, DES, joined the American Anthropological Association staff as the Director of Meetings and Conferences in June 2018, just in time to helm to 2018 Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA. This first meeting where wildfires, hotel strikes, and George Lucas proved to be challenging variables, is one of Nate’s most proud professional accomplishments. While an association meeting planner by trade for more than a decade, Nate is passionate about association management and is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) where he chairs the Young Professionals Advisory Committee and is a member of the current Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) class for 2020-2022. In October, he was named to Association Forum’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2021. Nate also spent time working for Kimpton Hotels in Philadelphia, making him uniquely experienced to navigate the turbulent waters of meeting management and contract negotiations in this dynamic COVID world. A champion of accessibility and a strategist trying to anticipate where the field is going next, Nate has built a Meetings team at the AAA that he feels confident can lead the organization toward a more inclusive, sustainable, and generative future.
Manager for Meetings & Events
American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges
Leslie Wilson is the Manager for Meetings and events for the AAVMC. She is a seasoned meeting planner with over 10 years of experience planning and coordinating event logistics, developing and managing budgets, and building and maintaining relationships with vendors and facilities. Before joining the AAVMC, she served as a contracted Strategic Event Planner with the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) within the U.S. Department of Justice.
Prior to that position, she worked at the Embassy of Canada for five-and-a-half years as the Relocation and Visits Coordinator, where she managed the coordination of visits to the D.C. area by Canadian diplomats, members of the Office of the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries. She also oversaw the clearance process for Canadian aircraft and weapons entering the United States.
Before that, Ms. Wilson provided public relations support for the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals sports teams. She also conducted an internship in former Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams’ Office.
Leslie holds a B.A. in Communications from Bowie State University, where she served as editor of her college newspaper. She is a D.C. native and lives in Maryland.
2022 LEADING ASSOCIATION LOBBYISTS
President and CEO
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Mike Bober joined the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) as the Vice President of Government Affairs in 2013 and has led the Council’s advocacy efforts ever since. In January of 2016, he was named President and CEO.
To spread the word about the power of pets and the benefits of the human-animal bond, Mike and the team at PIJAC have established or expanded several popular events on Capitol Hill including Pet Night, therapy animal interactions, and an annual legislative fly-in for the pet care community. Throughout 2020, PIJAC led the nationwide effort to ensure that pet retailers and service providers were included as “essential” businesses and permitted to remain open as closures went into effect across the country.
Previously, Mike served as Coalitions Director for a national political committee, where he presented on key Congressional races and grassroots engagement to groups nationwide. His specialties include legislative analysis, connecting with lawmakers, coalition-building and outreach.
He was named one of the pet industry’s “Forty Under 40” by Pet Age in 2016. In 2020, the World Pet Association presented him with their Pawsitive Impact Award, and he was included in Pet Age’s inaugural “Power 50” list and the National Institute of Lobbying & Ethics’ “Top Lobbyists of 2021” list last year.
Mike is a former Jeopardy! champion who sometimes answers in the form of a question and a Certified Barbecue Judge on the KCBS circuit. He and his family have taken advantage of all their extra time at home over the past year and a half to bond with Scruffles, their new cocker spaniel.
Director, Public Policy
American Society of Association Executives
Jeff Evans serves as Director of Public Policy for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Jeff advocates on behalf of the association sector, including ASAE’s membership of 48,000 association professionals and industry partners, on state and federal issues covering tax policy, financial services and workforce development, among others. Amid COVID-19, Jeff’s steadfast advocacy played a critical role to help secure billions of dollars in essential relief for associations through the Paycheck Protection Program. Jeff’s work has helped further position ASAE as a leading voice to establish a pandemic risk insurance program necessary to sustain associations’ major and fundamental role in promoting America’s economy. Jeff also represents ASAE on the Business Continuity Coalition and Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) steering committees. Through his PCC work, Jeff is closely involved with federal and state legislative initiatives that affect the certification community and has crafted economic development policies to support American workers and industries as they navigate pandemic recovery. Jeff began his career on Capitol Hill, has worked in the nonprofit and association communities for 10 years, and proudly represents the power of associations every day.
Assistant Director Government & Political Affairs
Insured Retirement Institute
John B. Jennings is the Assistant Director of Government Affairs at the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI). In his role, John assists the Chief Government and Political Affairs in the development and the execution of the association’s legislative and political strategy. He is responsible for leading specific advocacy initiatives in conjunction with association members before the U.S. Congress. John’s work implementing IRI’s strategy played a role in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recognizing IRI’s advocacy work with a “Power of A” Gold Award in 2020 and a Silver Award in 2021. John also manages the association’s grassroots advocacy program.
IRI is the leading association for the retirement income industry and is the only association that represents the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. IRI members are the major insurers, asset managers, broker-dealers, distributors, and 150,000 financial professionals. IRI serves as the retirement income industry’s forum for communication and awareness, and advocates for the sustainable retirement policies Americans need to help achieve a secure and dignified retirement.
Prior to joining IRI, John served as an aide to three members of the United States House of Representatives: Representatives Joe Wilson (SC-02), John Campbell (CA-45), and Virginia Foxx (NC-05). During his congressional tenure, John advised members on policy matters, managed constituent engagement programs, and supervised interns.
John received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Hampden-Sydney College in 2012. He lives in Washington, D.C., and is an avid fly fisherman.
Chief Government & Political Affairs Officer
Insured Retirement Institute
Paul has 36 years of experience working in both government and the private sector where he has directed federal and state government affairs programs. Currently, Paul serves as the Chief Government and Political Affairs Officer at the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) where he leads the association’s legislative and political strategy for all efforts before Congress and the Administration.
Paul was recognized by the Advocacy Association as one their “Top 20 in 20” advocates for having proven that he has led the way in innovation and helped advance the profession through thought leadership and mentoring the advocacy community. Paul’s advocacy leadership on behalf of IRI was also recognized by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) with their “Power of A” Gold Award for Advocacy in 2020 and their “Power of A” Silver Award for Advocacy in 2021.
Prior to joining IRI, Paul has served as the Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations; the Director of Federal Affairs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs at NSI, Inc. a national government affairs firm representing fortune 500 clients; and Vice President of State Government Affairs at the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Paul also has had a distinguished career in public service where he served in senior policy making positions during the Clinton Administration at the White House in the Office of the Vice President and at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Secretary’s office. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Paul served as the Special Counsel for Economic Development to former New York governor Mario M. Cuomo.
He is a lawyer admitted to practice in New York, where he had received his Juris Doctor degree from Cardozo School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
Staff Vice President, Government Affairs & Media Relations
School Nutrition Association
Cathy Schuchart currently serves as the lobbyist for the Arlington, VA based School Nutrition Association (SNA). A native of Sikeston, Missouri, Cathy grew up on the family farm, earned her bachelor’s degree from William Woods College in Fulton and then began a career in Washington, DC. Cathy quickly found her passion as a Legislative Assistant and then Professional Staff Member for the late Congressman Bill Emerson’s (R-MO), House Select Committee on Hunger. From there, she served as Chief of the Legislative Division of the Congressional and Public Affairs Office at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She also served as a national Budget Director for a Presidential Campaign. Her tenure at USDA, coupled with her Hill experience, and family roots prepared her well for the many critical legislative challenges at SNA.
Her key legislative wins and advocacy efforts on behalf of SNA with USDA and Congress have helped ensure that students have access to healthy school meals. She has effectively and forcefully balanced the interests and policies of the fifty state association members, along with those of the food service industry and other key partners playing a vital role in administering and supporting 30 million K-12 students’ lunches. Because of the committed leadership and strong voice of SNA, child nutrition programs have endured and adjusted especially during the Covid Pandemic. Child Nutrition Programs are among the most highly regulated Federal government programs.
PAST EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR HONOREES
- 2020- Gary Shapiro
- 2019 – Matthew Shay
- 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