Emerging Leaders Program


Emerging Leaders Program

The Emerging Leaders Program provides an unique opportunity for association professionals under the age of 35.  This program highlights influential and powerful techniques that teach young professionals how to take the next steps to success using conventional and non-conventional methods while creating an exclusive cohort where young professionals learn together over the course of six months.

The Emerging Leaders will get to know each other and be recognized for the upcoming program. During the program, Emerging Leaders will share ideas with each other, read  and present a to an executive panel. In addition, each Emerging Leader will have access to an association executive mentor.  

Emerging Leaders can expect to:
  • Strengthen communication and leadership skills
  • Learn from industry executives and receive one-on-one mentoring
  • Develop professional relationships with peer leaders
  • Attend two Association Forum Virtual Events: Forum Forward and Holiday Showcase
*Please note that this year, if needed, we will substitute face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings for your health and safety. If we should meet physically, Association Forum is committed to adhering to the appropriate CDC and State of Illinois Guidelines for in-person gatherings.

Questions? Please contact membership@associationforum.org

Sponsored by: 

Session Descriptions

Keynote and Kickoff Session


Candace Washington

The Emerging Leaders Program kicks off with an opening orientation with Candace Washington, the Chief Executive Officer at Pivotal Impact. She will debut our new capstone project which will assist participants to identify and authentically navigate in their strengths. 

Welcoming Environment: Implicit Bias

Emerging Leaders will talk about where implicit bias comes from and why it happens. We will cover related terminology and address the implications of bias in the workplace. 

Debbie Trueblood, MSW, IOM, CAE

Senior Consultant, Association Management Center

A Day in the Life of a CEO

Steve Smith, MS, CAE, FAAMSE
CEO, Association Management Center

Emerging Leaders will have the extraordinary opportunity to learn from the Chief Executive Officer of one of the most successful association management companies in the country. 

Managing Change and Conflict

Participants will hear from an expert in leadership, culture and change during this session which will focus on managing conflict and becoming an influencer to bring about necessary change within your association.

Executive Presence and Personal Branding

Join two seasoned association CEOs, who have also launched their own pathway after successful careers in a variety of different types of organizations. Together, they will lead you through what is happening in associations, what it takes to be a transformational, entrepreneurial CEO required in today’s world, career pathways, and how language and designing conversations are essential skills. They will also include the “Ask us anything” session for as long as you like. Designed to be both intentionally developmental and organic, this is your time!


Gregory J Fine, FASAE, CAE


Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE, CMC, CPC, CCRC
Founder, President & CEO
The Leaders’ Haven

Capstone Presentation

Students will be given a 6-8-minute time slot to present to an executive panel on their Capstone Project. Participants will be provided guided questions, activities, and resources that step them through the capstone development process.


2022 Emerging Leaders

Meet the 2022 Class of Emerging Leaders!

Michelle Bradley - Chicago Association of REALTORS
Lisa Brzezicki - American Society of Anesthesiology
Cassie Buchanan - American Society of Anesthesiologists
Brady Comenduley - Chicago Association of REALTORS
Kristin Crowe - Society for Vascular Surgery
Nikia Fitch, MBA - Chicago Association of REALTORS
Lauren Keith - American Society of Anesthesiologists
Vito Manola - American Society of Anesthesiologists
Kari Messenger - Association Management Center
Belen Ortiz - Chicago Association of REALTORS
Ryan Reeh - Strategic Management Society
Andrea Schmidl - Strategic Management Society