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Got a Story Idea? . Events
Association Bisnow
January 17, 2008


Shoutout to our sponsor The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.  Check out their 3.1M SF of
amazing event space on Penn. Ave.  One of Washington’s top venues for a truly memorable event.


Remember when you wanted to change the world?  No?  Well, anyway, the American Society for Association Executives and its sister organization, the Center for Association Leadership, think you can—and should—make the world a better place right from where you’re sitting.  Susan Sarfati gave us the scoop on their upcoming Global Summit on Social Responsibility, which aims to help associations make a positive social, economic, and environmental mark on our world.


Susan is EVP of ASAE and CEO of the Center for Association Leadership, which she founded in 2001 and merged with ASAE in 2004.  The Center, which focuses on research and learning activities for the association community, maintains a separate Board of Directors.


For almost 20 years, ASAE has run two award programs—the Associations Advance America (AAA) Awards and the Associations Make a Better World Awards—both recognizing associations that make a positive difference.  (The American Institute of Architects received the AAA honor in 2007 for a green building toolkit.) Now, ASAE & the Center are ramping up their support for socially responsible programs with a summit April 30 to May 2Washington will be the “hub location,” but the summit will take place simultaneously at a minimum of 15 other U.S. locations and 15-20 international sites, to be integrated through voice and Internet hookups.  (The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, which opens on the Potomac in March, is the local site.)  Satellite locations are still being finalized.


In late February, Susan will be taking a contingent of association executives on a study mission to Mumbai, India, where they’ll learn about opening international offices.  Here, she shows us a memento from a dinner she had with an international player who did more than a little good for the world:  Mikhail Gorbachev.  


This is not, Susan emphasizes, your normal, speaker-based conference.  Collaboration among attendees will drive the summit, with a facilitator and workbook guiding the discussion at each site.  The D.C. facilitator will be David Cooperrider, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western (who, as far as we know, will not be requiring attendees to repeat his title ten times quickly).  The premise, Susan tells us, is to have participants themselves identify association strengths that can help create change, and then to devise guidelines for effective and socially responsible ways to, yes, change the world.    


Susan likes to read about people who do good as well.  She just finished Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, whose organization has built more than 50 schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1993.


Beyond the obvious altruistic benefits of “socially responsible” initiatives (ASAE & the Center leave the definition of that term up to individual associations), Susan believes there’s a strong business advantage to them.  For one thing, getting behind a good cause is a sure way to “attract young talent” to an association.  Visibility and goodwill are two other obvious benefits to giving the world a hand.  Even the Scrooges out there can get on board with that!

Reed Smith
Arent Fox
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