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Association Forum’s Third Annual Forum Forward Event Leads the Charge for Change

By Melissa Walling posted 07-02-2016 20:17

CHICAGO (June 23, 2016)—More than 300 association management professionals came together to attend Association Forum’s third annual Forum Forward™ event on June 22. The completely reimagined event focused on embracing change and thriving in a dynamic environment, and this emphasis was reflected in a new one-day format and a change in venue—The Geraghty, located just southwest of downtown Chicago in a vibrant and diverse community.

The day was rounded out with a blend of three powerful keynotes, energetic education programs and peer-to-peer “disruption” discussions, a CEOnly Summit, recognition of the recipients of Association Forum’s 2016 Honors Awards and the members who earned the CAE designation in 2016, and a lively lunch and closing reception.

Throughout the day, attendee experiences were designed to be unexpected to reinforce the concept of disruption and embracing change. Renowned thought leader John Spence opened the day with an impactful keynote on embracing a shift in thinking—from anticipating change to driving it. Writer, consultant and speaker Alexandra Levit delivered a TED-style lunch talk exploring Millennials’ and Generation Z’s tremendous impact on the entire industry. Simon T. Bailey closed the program with his impassioned perspectives on individual evolution to leading brilliantly.

Six dynamic education sessions were led by subject matter experts addressing a wide range of topics, from cybersecurity to talent management, a fresh approach to membership, personal branding, and more. Six peer-to-peer discussions, moderated by Association Forum members, explored product innovation, diversity and inclusion in associations, and the next wave of technology.

The CEOnly® Summit returned this year with a half-day design intended to facilitate C-level idea exchange and spark new vision. Conversations were led by keynote speakers Spence and Bailey, who took attendees on a deep dive into their topics and implications for association leaders.

“Forum Forward took a creative space and filled it with buzzing, networking thought leaders,” says Association Forum Chair Dave Bergeson, CAE, Ph.D., account executive at Association Management Center. “The new format and new venue were thoughtful risks, intended to help push us an industry toward making the changes that many of us talk about but don’t do. I was so pleased to participate in this day filled with disruptive ideas and creative people.”

Forum Forward attendees were among the first to preview and explore Association Forum’s soon-to-launch 24/7/365 mobile app, new website and new online member community. They also had the opportunity to assemble hygiene kits from Clean the World; more than 700 kits were put together and will be donated to the YMCA of Metro Chicago. This corporate social responsibility initiative was made possible through Association Forum’s partnership with Tourism Vancouver in an ongoing #VanGiving campaign.

“This year's event combined a bold new venue with a variety of cutting-edge education sessions and unexpected experiences,” says Association Forum President and CEO Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE. “It represents a deliberate effort to embrace disruption and to lead the way into an uncertain but exciting future, full of possibility.”

View attendees’ Forum Forward experiences and top takeaways on Twitter at #FFWD16. Photos from Forum Forward and the following evening’s Honors Gala are posted on Facebook.

This event would not have been possible without Association Forum’s generous partners. Their support is greatly appreciated.

About Association Forum

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 44,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $38 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit for more information.