Welcoming Environment Resource Center

Welcoming Environment® Resource Center
This resource center is designed for association executives who are interested in learning, practicing and implementing a WE at their association.  These concepts can be immediately implemented in every facet of the association including workforce, membership, and leadership.

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What is a Welcoming Environment?


When an association values differences and creates a welcoming environment – one that is comfortable, inclusive, and empowering – it opens the door for innovation, increased participation and an elevated sense of community and belonging for all.


Welcoming Environment® is defined as the creation of a sense of belonging and connectedness that engages individuals in an authentic manner in which uniqueness is valued, respected and supported through opportunities and interaction.

A Welcoming Environment® drives deeper engagement and increased participation with the Association and will ultimately increase revenue and build sustainable relationships.

One of Association Forum's Core Values is to be a Welcoming Environment®We are a welcoming environment that actively seeks to enhance the larger community by recognizing the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We will make everyone who interacts with us feel welcomed, represented, engaged, inspired and empowered.

The environment we create communicates our beliefs about the people we serve.  Association Forum has made a commitment to building a Welcoming Environment® (WE) in our community and to equipping members with the tools that they need to build a WE at their association.  Association Forum’s value and wisdom draws upon and reflects the population we serve, and that which our members serve.


June 4, 2020
Conversation Circle on Racial Inequality

Simon T. Bailey, Speaker 
Roderick T. Sawyer, Chicago Alderman

June 8, 2020
Conversation Circle on Racial Inequality- Part 2

Simon T. Bailey, Speaker
Roderick T. Sawyer, Chicago Alderman
Patricia Blake of the Heart Rhythm Society
Paul Pomerantz of the American Society of Anesthesiologists
Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis CVB

June 25, 2020
The Impact of Race on Women’s Leadership Journeys

Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, AHIMA
Vicki Loise, CMP, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening
Kimberly Mosley, CAE, CPE, President, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

August 10, 2020
Conversation Circle
Words Matter: Race and Rhetoric

Dr. Cedric Burrows, Assistant Professor, Marquette University
Marquis Miller, Chief Diversity Officer, City of Chicago

Further Reading:
Boston Globe
There is no shortage of common words and phrases with racist connotations
Deanna Pan - August 6, 2020

Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
By Scottie Andrew and Harmeet Kaur - Tue July 7, 2020

Book Recommendations

November 2, 2020
Civil Discourse

Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE
Greg Heidrich
Arlene A. Pietranton, PhD, CAE
Paul Pomerantz, FACHE, FASAE
Irving W. Washington, FASAE, CAE

November 16, 2020
LGBTQI in the Workplace

Desirée A. Knight, CMP, CAE
Bob Moore, MA, CAE
Heather Pownall, MBA, CAE
Donté P. Shannon, FASAE, CAE
Lane Velayo, CAE
Jim Zaniello, FASAE

Additional Resources:
Good Practices: Inclusive Language- University of Maryland
LGBTQ+ voices: Learning from lived experiences- McKinsey & Company
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workplace Issues: Quick Take- Catalyst
Corporate Equality Index 2020- Human Rights Campaign
Advocating for LGBTQ Equality in Your Workplace- Human Rights Campaign
How the LGBTQ+ community fares in the workplace- McKinsey & Company

January 19, 2021
Processing the Riot of January 6th with the Co-Founders of Text to Table™
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Michelle Mills Clement, FASAE, CAE, RCE
Irving W. Washington, FASAE, CAE
Donté P. Shannon, FASAE, CAE
Shawn Boynes, FASAE, CAE

WE Research Study

This past summer, Association Forum released the findings from our groundbreaking, Welcoming Environment® (WE) Research Study built in partnership with McKinley Advisors.

This research shines a spotlight on the disconnect between what is identified as necessary Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategies and where these strategies are actually being implemented in associations.

The resources below, stemming from the study, are meant to serve as a guide to help our members implement DEI in their own organizations.

Welcoming Environment Organizational Award

The Welcoming Environment Organizational Award is awarded to an association that has demonstrated exemplary outcomes in providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and culture.

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Past Recipients

WE Issues of FORUM








Welcoming Environment Partner


Resource Partners

Welcoming Environment® is a registered trademark of Association Forum.  Permission to use is required.