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Free Interactive Virtual Conference

Join 1000’s of association professionals harnessing the power of collective knowledge.

November 7th-9th, 2018


Register now to begin interacting with fellow association professionals.



Immediately start sharing your great ideas, while learning what others are doing.


Return November 7th-9th to view the sessions, discuss with other attendees, and ask the speakers.


Look out for the eBooks that will be published after the event, compiling insights, resources, and strategies gleaned from the sessions and discussions.

Why Attend

SURGE is an interactive virtual conference built on the conviction that collective knowledge is the key to pushing our industry towards the future.

The theme of this event is Optimism for the Future: it is about celebrating progress that has already been made, and looking proactively towards new opportunities for associations to flourish.

On November 7th-9th, association professionals from around the world will assemble virtually to learn from each other. As you watch the expert-led sessions, an attendee chat will run simultaneously, giving you the chance to contribute your insight to the discussion taking place.

Register now to begin interacting immediately. You can:

Connect with like-minded individuals in our forum.
Contribute your thoughts to our co-writing exercise.
Absorb fresh ideas from handpicked resources.
Vote on video submissions for the SURGE Innovation Pioneer Award


We are a CAE Approved Provider.


Here is what SURGE attendees have to say.

"Epic is the only word I can come up with. My colleagues concur!" Shannon K. Robertson, CAE, MS, Executive Vice President, NAIFA Louisiana & NAIFA BR
"I’m blown away. It is one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. Loved the quality, the content, the format, the dialogue….everything." Meena Dayak, VP, Integrated Media & Communications, American Public Power Association
"I was so impressed by the core SURGE team. Innovation, collaboration, execution, and, of course, humor under pressure. You went beyond putting on a virtual conference; you created a community! Cheers to you, the team, the attendees, and the sponsors and supporters! Can’t wait for the next SURGE!" Tim Parsons, CMO/COO 5:00 Films & Media
"To SURGE is to learn and to network and to share in awesome ways. And to SURGE is to learn how to experiment within your own association." Garth Jordan, SVP, Corporate Strategy, HFMA

Sessions and Speakers

Thanks to our speakers, whose ideas are the very backbone of this event.

New to SURGE: Happy Hour Bonus Sessions

Our Happy Hour Bonus Sessions are a chance to get acquainted - with each other, and with the nuts and bolts of applying conference insights technologically. Join our partners for an intimate chat about practical examples of innovative doing.

Happy Hour is also about unwinding and connecting, so there will be more space for networking, and an even more interactive format in which to explore and focus on the themes of the day. Grab a drink if you can find one (and if your environment allows), and round off the day's discussion properly! These sessions will take place each day from 4-5PM EST.

November 7th, 12-1PM EST

The Future of Work Is Here

Adrienne Bryant, CAE

Account Executive
IntrinXec Management, Inc.

Cecilia Sepp, CAE, CNAP

Association Expert and Founder
501c/Association Mentoring Network

Lisa Campo

Senior Marketing Manager
American Staffing Association

Liz Icenogle, CAE

Executive Director of Engagement
ARMA International

In the gig economy, virtual workspaces are our present and future. Adrienne Bryant, Lisa Campo, Liz Icenogle, and Cecilia Sepp, all association professionals with different types of remote working experiences, address the Future of Work using personal anecdotes and scientific studies. They discuss how to create a culture among remote workers, the necessity of self-discipline and routine, and how “work-life balance” is both important—and a misleading term—to people who work remotely.

November 7th, 1-2PM EST

Revamp to Revitalize and Grow

Addy Kujawa, CAE

Chief Executive Officer
American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives

Angela McMillan

Director of Special Events, Communication, and Marketing
Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS

Danielle Duran Baron, MA, MBA, CAE

Executive Director
Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

Mary Byers, CAE, CSP

Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations

Complacency is the enemy of associations. Find out how three association executives refused to fall into the complacency trap by revamping how they design their meetings, hire, communicate, and how they approach diversity and inclusion, among other things. You’ll learn the process they followed to revamp, what happened as a result, and how to create a revamp map you can use in your own association. From a more diverse speaker lineup to an effective ambassador program to a meeting that’s grown 75% in three years, you’ll see how revamping can mean revitalizing for your organization.

November 7th, 2-3PM EST

Content Strategy and Designing for Relevance

Carrie Hane

Principal Strategist
Tanzen LLC

Dave Martin

Director of Marketing
American College of Radiology

Hilary Marsh

President and Chief Strategist
Content Company, Inc.

Content is how associations’ work is manifested in the world. It’s how members learn about, engage with and and use an association’s offerings. This session will cover three factors that help make sure content is effective:

It is created in a way that highlights its relevance
It is structured so it can be reused and highlighted
It is marketed so the audience knows about it

This session will cover each of these topics in more detail, with real-life lessons and stories from three speakers with deep expertise.

November 7th, 3-4PM EST

Busting the 7 Myths of Entrepreneurship in Associations

Barbara Byrd Keenan, FSAE, CAE

Chief Executive Officer
Endocrine Society

Dennis Sadler

Deputy Executive Director, Operations
National Association of Secondary School Principals

Emilio Arocho

Director, Technology and Digital Strategy
Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI)

Meena Dayak

VP, Integrated Media & Communications
American Public Power Association

Entrepreneurship: just for for-profits, or an opportunity for associations? A skill that stays at the top of the hierarchy, or a way to empower every department? Relentless risk-taking or calculated experiments?

This session will push you to rethink everything you thought you knew about entrepreneurial thinking in the association space. Four speakers will bust common myths about entrepreneurship one by one, covering topics including the role of volunteers, culture change and external competition. By the end, you will be prepared and excited to transform your organization with a business-focused mindset.

November 7th, 4-5PM ESTBonus Session

How to Make Technology Painless

Erin Hall, CAE

Product Manager

Janelle Benefield

Director of Association Payments

Rachel Stephan

snöball event influencer marketing

Rick Rutherford

VP, Association Solutions

November 8th, 12-1PM EST

How to Lose New Members in 90 Days or Less

Amanda Kaiser

Chief Path Finder
Kaiser Insights LLC

Larry Guthrie

Director of Communications
CCIM Institute

Lisa Vivinetto

Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer
Dynamic Benchmarking

Stephanie Selesnick, CEM

International Trade Information, Inc.

Are new member retention rates much lower than the retention rates for all other members at your association? Imagine improving your new member retention rates by 10%, 20%, even 50%! Some associations are growing their membership by focusing far more on engaging their most at-risk members. How are they doing it? By delivering the value and experiences new members need. Join us for a mix of research data and real-life examples that you can start using immediately at your association.

November 8th, 1-2PM EST

Foresight is the Future of Governing

Alicia Skulemowski, CAE

Senior Manager, Governance and Member Experience
Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE)

Jeff De Cagna FRSA FASAE

Executive Advisor
Foresight First LLC

Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, CAE

Executive Director
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Veronica Meadows, CAE

Senior Director of Strategy
Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards

It’s time to start attending to your association’s future. Preparing your association and its stakeholders for the future requires more from key decision-makers. By fully embracing the duty of foresight, boards can focus their attention on pursuing intentional learning with the future. This provocative conversation will explore how boards can start doing the work that only they can do, and why foresight is the future of governing for building both high-performing boards and thriving organizations.

November 8th, 2-3PM EST

Productivity - A State of Mind At Work

David E. Elliott

Social Learning and Innovation Facilitator, Consultant

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, LSP

Leadership Solutions Intl.

Lauren LeMunyan, PCC

Executive Coach
Lauren LeMunyan Coaching

Tracy Vanneman, CAE

Partnership Sales Manager
CESSE – Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives

Do you carry items forward on your to-do list day after day? Do you sit down in the office to finish one task then find yourself quickly distracted by another? Do you struggle to set boundaries around your working time? This session about combating gaps in our productivity is for you. Four speakers - a mindfulness consultant, a burnout prevention coach, an association professional, and an education expert - put heads together to offer tips, strategies and frameworks to help you become more productive, both as individuals and organization. Topics covered include association culture and leadership expectations, how to stay present in your workspace, the power of turning off your phone, and unlearning perfectionism.

November 8th, 3-4PM EST

Mission Critical: Advance Your Industry’s Workforce Through Real Learning

Carolyn Thompson

Training Systems INC

Jess Halverson Bowyer

CPA Center of Excellence®, powered by the Indiana CPA Society

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE

CEO & Strategy Catalyst
Vista Cova

Tracy King, MA,  CAE

CEO and Chief Learning Strategist

What is real learning, why do we need it, and how can we attain it within our organizations?

Learning needs to be a core part of any organization’s purpose, to prepare a workforce to continue flourishing in the future. Armed with this purpose, in order to be a guide and partner for those that are learning throughout their careers, we have to focus not on single byte units but on developing competencies and supporting mastery. Starting from the lens of workforce development, this discussion will unearth the key steps you need to implement an effective and comprehensive real learning strategy for your team.

November 8th, 4-5PM ESTBonus Session

The Power of Individual Stories to Strengthen Community

Ben Martin

Executive Director
The Review Society

Heather Wetzler

Co-founder & COO
Cue Career

Karen McCord


Tim Parsons

Head of Story, Brand Strategy, and Partnerships
5:00 Films & Media

November 9th, 12-1PM EST

Understanding Human Behavior to Unlock Potential

Dan Ariely

Behavioral Economist
Best Selling Author

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE

CEO & Strategy Catalyst
Vista Cova

Nick Marzano

Director of Education
Society of Hospital Medicine

Shira Harrington

Chief Engagement Officer
Purposeful Hire, Inc.

Susan Radwan, MEd, CAE, SMP

Leading Edge Mentoring

What makes us do the things we do? In the first half of this session, author and scholar Dan Ariely shares his wisdom about irrationality and the human mind. Ariely will talk about the personal and professional experiences that led him to the study of this strand of behavioral psychology, then flesh out his research with real-life examples. You will learn more about the factors that impact how we make decisions, handle distractions and exercise willpower.

In the second half of the session, you will bear witness to a SURGE-concocted experiment. What would happen, we wondered, if we took down all the signposts and let a conversational journey develop spontaneously? These speakers have done no advance prep, and are coming to this discussion with no idea of its direction other than to discuss the broad subject, ‘professional motivation.’ Armed only with their relevant expertise, a passion for the topic, and a facilitator, the speakers will tackle the theme imaginatively and instinctively. Where exactly the discussion will take them, and what exactly they will unearth, is unscripted and unplanned.

November 9th, 1-2PM EST

Approaches for Human-Centered Design in Technology Initiatives

Amy Burke

VP, Member Engagement

Emily Hendershot

Community Strategist & Operations Consultant
Nova Strategies

Gordon Withers

Director of Digital Services

Harry Rothmann

Chief Technology Officer
Association of the United States Army

Human-centered design, a product development methodology that puts people first, has the ability to increase successful outcomes for any association’s technology initiative. In this session, our panel will focus on human-centered design’s four stages: user research, ideation, iteration, and implementation. With real-life association experiences of excelling or struggling with a technology project, you will leave this session with actionable tactics and insights to help you and your organization adopt this approach.

November 9th, 2-3PM EST

Creating A Culture of Success

Kathija “Kat” Mohammed, CHO, CHIA

Director of Education

Mike Moss, CAE

Society for College and University Planning

Rhea Steele, MS, CAE

Chief Operating Officer
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Sarah Sladek

Founder & CEO
XYZ University

More than ever, associations are being challenged to sustain amidst disruption and to help their member companies do the same. Labor shortages and retirement waves are threatening the stability of organizations—even entire industries. As a result, leaders must prioritize the development of positive workplace cultures and employee engagement initiatives, but research indicates this has been easier said than done.

Join us to learn more about what it takes to foster a culture of success within your workforce. The panel will explore how to define, measure, and manage a culture capable of inspiring team-building and fostering engagement and community. You will hear creative strategies and best practices designed to offer the best workplace for you and your employees, and better serve the changing needs of your industry’s employers.

November 9th, 3-4PM EST

A Glimpse into the Future of Global Associations

Florence Bindelle

Secretary General at EuropeanIssuers. President at ESAE.

Jeffers Miruka

President and Founder
African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE)

Joan Tezak

Executive Director
Colorado Society of Association Executives (CSAE)

John Peacock

Chief Executive Officer
Associations Forum

Kevin Ordonez

Octavio “Bobby” Peralta

Octavio “Bobby” Peralta

CEO & Founder
Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE)

Reggie Henry, CAE

Chief Information and Engagement Officer
American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

Sherry Budziak


In the final session of SURGE Optimism, representatives from the frontlines of the association community across the world will share a social and economic snapshot of each region. Tuning in from Southeast Asia, the United States, Europe, Africa, and Australia, this update will provide an overview of the association activities making waves in each locality. What unites us and distinguishes us as association professionals on different continents? What can we learn from each other? How can we build a worldwide association movement to strengthen our industries and society as a whole? In a virtual world, let’s think international.

November 9th, 4-5PM ESTBonus Session

Artificial Intelligence and its Increasing Relevancy in Associations

Dave Will

Co-Founder and CEO

Josh Carlson

Founder & CEO

Paolo Melgarejo

Executive Director

Our Partners

Hover over their logos to learn more about them.

Industry partners we’re so excited for you to meet

The technology and expertise that helps produce SURGE

Organizations that convene to further the association profession

How it Works

Who is putting on this event?

This event is being run by We are a facilitator of great ideas, so this summit is truly a collection of ideas and insights from dozens of people. We are also delighted to be partnering with a number of Associations of Associations across the globe, representing voices from all corners of the industry. Each of our speakers, volunteers, and partners are passionate about seeing the association industry thrive, which is why they have donated their time and resources to making this event happen.

What is the format of the summit?

This is a three-day event from 12-4PM EST on November 7th-9thth. Each session is an hour long, and is pre-recorded. This allows the speakers to spend the entire session period in the attendee chat answering your burning questions. At the same time, you will be able to communicate with the other attendees through the same chat. Join in on whichever conversation is most interesting to you!

How do I access the event?

Once you register, you will enter the event page, where you can immediately start interacting. At the same time, you will be sent an email with the link to return. The event is the finale, but conversations will occur in the platform leading up to it.

Where is this event located?

This summit exists in the virtual space, as it gives us the opportunity to bring together thousands of association professionals from around the world.

Have you made any changes since the last event in May?

We’ve added some fun new ways to connect, more resources, and a new competition! More info coming soon.

How can I ask speakers questions during the event?

The sessions are pre-recorded so that the speakers can spend the time answering attendee questions. They will be typing away furiously to reply to as many questions as possible in the live chat!

Will there be opportunities to communicate with the speakers after their specific sessions?

This will depend on individual preference of our speakers. For those who are willing to be contacted, they will provide their email addresses.

Can I communicate with other participants?

Absolutely! When you register, you can immediately start communicating with fellow attendees in our forum. Throughout the sessions, there will also be a chat running simultaneously.

Will I have access to the sessions after the fact?

If you register before Nov. 7th, you will be given access to watch the recorded sessions at any point after the event.

Can I gain CAE credit hours watching the sessions?

Yes, but only if you attend live!

Can I gain CMP credit hours watching the sessions?

Absolutely - for live attendance.

I would like to speak at your next conference. Is there an opportunity?

We would love to hear from you, we will release a call for submissions when the event is over!

Is there an opportunity to sponsor/advertise within the event?

Absolutely! Contact to set up a call. We’re looking forward to talking with you!

What platform are you using to stream the event?

We are proudly partnered with CE21.

Are there any browsers that your platform does not support?

The quality will be a little funky on Internet Explorer 8. Although we highly recommend Chrome for the smoothest user experience on any website, here’s a handy link to download Edge, which is Microsoft’s move away from IE:

My question hasn't been answered in this Q&A. How might I satisfy my curiosity?

Email your question to If you’re asking, you’re not the only one, and you will help us make our Q&A complete!