Bisnow Innovation Award Winners: Part I
What does innovation look like? We'll show you through profiles in the next three issues of the top innovators in the association and nonprofit worlds. Then, help celebrate these outside-the-boxers with Vornado and the Crystal City BID on Jan. 28.
Title: Member relations and strategy director, BSA: The Software Alliance
Organization: Represent the software industry globally. We have 50 members, including companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle. With staff of 75, we help them enforce their intellectual property rights, serve as an extension of their legal team and represent them in front of governments around the world.
Job: Everything from retaining and recruiting new members to certain member communications functions.
On the job: 2 years.
Most innovative projects: Last year, we overhauled the way we calculate dues for the first time since the organization's founding in 1988. 50 options were on the table and we worked with members on the option that sets us up for the future. Also last year, I led a major membership communications project. We learned that our execs want to know the full range of issues impacting their companies. We went into the project thinking we send our members too much information.
Best lesson on being innovative: Have an open mind, don't shut down new ideas.
Why associations career: My first paid job in DC, after college, was at an association representing foreign companies in the US.
Grew up: Longmeadow, MA
Current home: Alexandria
Why DC: To attend GW and then met my wife, who grew up here.
First job: Assistant counselor at history museum camp in Cape Cod.
Job in another life: Professional basketball player
Daily habit: Coffee and changing son's diaper (not necessarily in that order).
Favorite movie: Braveheart
Favorite restaurant: La Mer in Honolulu
Favorite music: Daughtry and Dave Matthews Band
Favorite vacation spot: Cape Cod
Guilty pleasure: Video games
Bucket list: Drive cross country
Family: Married 10 years; two sons (2 and 4) and third child (a daughter) on the way.
Hobbies: Work out (weightlifting) every workday morning, playing with my kids, watching sports.
Startling fact: I still buy music on CDs.
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Title: VP, administrative & audio visual services, National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Job: Facility planning and operation, security, real estate, hospitality, and operation of NCTA's multimedia conference and exhibition facilities.
On the job: 11 years.
Organization: Represents cable operators (166 members).
Most innovative projects: Established and oversees NCTA's CableINNOVATES – a 1k SF “interactive showcase” that demonstrates for lawmakers, member organizations and the FCC content and demos of technology, economic impact, programming and community initiatives. Moved the 100-person staff and grew and upgraded NCTA's 75-person theater to a 105-seat THX-certified theater. Member organizations like Hallmark Channel, Disney and A&E use it for TV programming and first-run movie premieres – 40 per year. Also managed an in-place renovation and upgraded NCTA's audio visual technology in CableINNOVATES, theater, studio and conference rooms.
Best advice on being innovative: Stay nimble and educated through US and European conferences and listen to what members want or need.
Grew up: Montgomery Village
Current home: Alexandria
Memory growing up in DC area: My parents taking me to art and history museums and monuments.
School: Penn State
First job: Newscaster for WRSC radio in State College, PA. First day on the job was the day President Reagan was shot. I was the one who ripped the paper off the AP wire and ran it into the newsroom so we could interrupt the current radio program to report the story on-air.
Job in another life: Co-anchor on the Today Show or Good Morning America like my idols Barbara Walters and Joan Lunden
Daily habit: Up at 4:50am to run or do barre – ballet barre meets yoga and Pilates.
Favorite restaurant: True Food Kitchen, Fairfax
Favorite vacation spot: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Bucket list: Parachuting out of an airplane voluntarily.
Family: Married 14 years – husband has two sons and I have two daughters, ages 20-26.
Hobbies: Volunteer work as Dr. Bear for Children's National Health Systems, sailing and running (doing the Disney Princess Half Marathon with daughters next month).
Startling fact: I was the first and only female Nittany Lion mascot for Penn State, Altoona campus.
Title: Senior director, strategy and innovation, Association of American Medical Colleges
Organization: Founded in 1876, represents 141 accredited US and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 teaching hospitals and health systems; and 90 academic and scientific societies.
Job: Lead strategy development, including setting strategic priorities, measuring organizational performance, improving member engagement and building out innovation capabilities.
On the job: With the organization since 2000, doing current job over two years.
Most innovative project: Helping to build an organization-wide innovation mindset and culture. Last summer, we launched an Innovation Advocates program for staff who wanted to be trained in innovation tools and techniques. Nearly 20% of staff (100 people) signed up. We're now developing an innovation advocacy digital badge for staff as a micro-credential of their innovation skills and abilities.
Best lesson on being innovative: Everybody has the capacity to be an innovator if given the right opportunities and skills development.
Why associations career: With a doctorate in higher ed, I came to the AAMC to study management and leadership in medical schools and teaching hospitals. I fell into the role of strategy and innovation.
Grew up: Roselle, NJ
Current home: Silver Spring
Why DC: For love! My wife moved here after grad school and I followed her.
Schools: University of Richmond and Harvard
First job: Worked in the pro shop at a golf course through high school and college – it's how I paid my way through college.
Job in another life: Golf pro
Daily habit: Ride my bike to work.
Favorite movie: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favorite restaurant: Tiffin, Takoma Park
Favorite music: Dave Matthews
Favorite vacation spot: Acadia National Park, Maine
Guilty pleasure: Dark chocolate
Bucket list: Take our kids abroad for a year before they're teens. We're thinking about Morocco and Turkey or Switzerland, New Zealand, South Africa…
Family: Married 15 years; two sons (ages 7 and 10)
Startling fact: Survived being electrocuted twice – first time was at age 7 when I stuck a knife in a socket. Second time was from an iron's faulty plug in a hotel.
Title: Communications and public affairs SVP, National Beer Wholesalers Association
Organization: Staff of 25, representing 3,300 independent beer distributors.
Job: Many pots on the stove, including advocacy and strategic communications, member communications, events communications, internal communications so each staff member knows what the other is doing, and PR surrounding the association and its members.
On the job: 8 years.
Most innovative project: Launched NBWA-TV two years ago. Its original goal was to create a mini-newscast to run during our convention. We've expanded it to tell more stories about the membership. We also created an advocacy app that includes video stories. So when our members talk to legislators, they can use the app to show them videos about distributors' impact on the economy and their commercial value.
Best lesson on being innovative: The answer to any question should never be, “because we've always done it that way.”
Start in associations: Worked in TV news for 12 years and then worked on the communications team in the Bush White House. From there I went to NBWA, where I get to dive into a wide range of policy issues and PR initiatives.
Grew up: Nashville
Current home: Alexandria
Why DC: For a job as the 6pm producer for WJLA-ABC7 News
Schools: Sewanee: The University of the South and Indiana University
First job: Intern with "Snowbird" school, closing reports at WSMV-TV, Nashville.
Job in another life: To host my own cooking show.
Daily habit: Watch the evening news.
Favorite movie: The Blind Side
Favorite restaurant: Landini Brothers
Favorite vacation spot: Any beach.
Guilty pleasure: McDonald's pancakes
Family: Married and two kids
Hobbies: Cooking and running
Startling fact: I was an Art History major.
Title: President/CEO, PMMI - The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies
Organization: Represents 680 companies that manufacture packaging and develop processing technologies. Anything you eat or see on the shelf, our members had something to do with.
Job: Focused on strategic positioning. We changed our name in the last year as part of a rebranding and now we're developing programs to interface with more of the industry.
On the job: 25 years
Most innovative project: We wanted to get into digital media, so we acquired a for-profit company already doing many of the niche newsletters and white papers that we wanted to do. We've also been working on making our trade shows more innovative. (We're the second largest trade show owner in the US.) We recently launched Innovation Stages at our trade shows where attendees can see demos of the latest packaging and processing technology.
Secret to innovation: Keep eyes and ears open for ideas. Go to other trade shows to get inspiration.
Grew up: Chicago
Current home: Fair Oaks
Why association career: Was going to be a teacher like my brother, but after graduating, was recruited to work in the show department at the American Meat Institute. I stayed 17 years before joining PMMI in 1990.
Why DC: The American Meat Institute moved here from Chicago in 1973.
School: Illinois State
First job: Lumber yard doing a little bit of everything.
Job in another life: Golf pro
Daily habit: Hit the gym in our building at noon.
Favorite movie: Jeremiah Johnson
Favorite restaurant: Ruth's Chris
Bucket list: To own a farm.
Family: Married 41 years; two adult sons and daughter.
Title: VP, information technology, American Gastroenterological Association
Association: Founded in 1897, AGA has over 16,000 members involved in the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology.
Job: Was hired in November to establish AGA's digital and health IT strategy. We're assessing where we are and what practitioners, clinicians and patients in the GI world want.
Most innovative project: While CIO at the Association of Fundraising Professionals, we strengthened tools and technology to give 240 chapters all over the world access to real-time business intel from HQ. We also provided each chapter with their own website. I also elevated the concept of how tech can play a savvy business role in the organization and created the concept of AFP's tech conference.
Best lesson on being innovative: Always talk about staying ahead of the curve. The moment you start talking about being relevant, it's too late.
Why associations career: After graduating, got an offer from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Their mission just made sense to me.
Grew up: Nepal
Current home: Burtonsville, MD
Came to DC: Came to study medicine at GW, but then realized I needed $60k a year for tuition. Switched to computer science.
First job: McDonald's for three months.
Job in another life: Teaching children computer skills or working with seniors.
Favorite app: USA Today and Washington Post
Favorite movie: A Bollywood movie called Fire on Path.
Favorite restaurant: Commander's Palace (New Orleans)
Favorite music: Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi
Favorite vacation spot: Aruba
Guilty pleasure: Facebook
Bucket list: European tour with family.
Family: Married 18 years; son (11) and daughter (9)
Hobbies: Soccer, football and eating out.
Startling fact: Ranked No. 2 out of 85,000 students in Nepal taking the annual certificate exam.