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From the September 25, 1998 print editionarrowMore Print Edition Stories

Dazzling Dozen

Twelve who matter in D.C.'s association world

Tim Deady  

With 70,000 people working at and with the 3,000 associations in the Washington area, it's difficult to pick out only a handful of movers and shakers.

But that's what this list attempts to do -- identify the key players in a business that spends $13.2 billion in the greater metro area.

A few of the Dazzling Dozen were obvious choices because they are the top people at big associations or groups like the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and the American Society of Association Executives. Some on the list were more difficult to identify.

Of course, others deserved to be included. Maybe the 100 -- or 1,000 -- most influential association executives would have been better. But then by limiting it to a dozen, perhaps it becomes more meaningful.

If, in a year, Washington Business Journal compiles a similar list, a few of the dozen will likely be repeat winners. But just as likely there will be a set of new faces because, contrary to popular belief, associations are constantly evolving entities.

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James Anderson

If an association or an association executive has a legal problem, it is James Anderson who will likely be called. An attorney with Howe Anderson & Steyer in Washington, Anderson specializes in associations. At any given time, he says, he has 100 association clients in the Washington area.

Among the isues handled by Anderson are contracts, employment, taxes, real estate and matters related to advocacy and government relations.

Anderson, 56 and a former FBI agent and prosecutor, also does some pro bono work for association executives with employment problems.

Stephen Carey

Carey is a former president of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives who now operates his own consulting firm in Bethesda called Association Marketing and Management Resources. As a former GWSAE chief, Carey is well-known in the business and has an extensive list of contacts. His expertise is in helping associations with member services and marketing themselves to the public.

Red Cavaney

Cavaney became president and chief executive officer of the District-based American Petroleum Institute a year ago after serving as president and chief executive officer of the American Plastics Council. In 1997, Cavaney was selected as association executive of the year by Association Trends, an industry newsletter.

Like many association executives, Cavaney, 54, has an extensive background in government, having served in the administrations of presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan. He is also a Vietnam War veteran.

While head of the Plastics Council, Cavaney was credited with developing an advertising campaign that helped change the perception of plastics from a cheap material for toys and gadgets to an indispensable high-tech material used in space and medicine.

"He broke the mold when it came to the public's perceptions of plastics," said Ken Sommer, a spokesman for the American Society of Association Executives.

Cavaney is known as a coalition builder who is able to bring to bring different groups and interests together for a common purpose.

Jill Cornish

For the past 26 years, Cornish has been publisher of Association Trends, a weekly newsletter about associations published in Bethesda. The newsletter is considered a must read in the industry. Even though her newsletter covers associations nationwide, Cornish is seen a major player in the Washington scene if for no other reason than that she knows just about everybody. Or just about everbody knows her.

For instance, it is Cornish who people in the industry turn to for the latest gossip and news. When someone is looking for job, it's likely Cornish will hear about it first. When there is a death in the industry, Cornish will know the details about the funeral.

"If people want an answer about something, they call me because they know I may know, and they know that I'm accessible," said Cornish.

Thomas Donohue

As president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 60-year-old Donohue is one of the most visible association executives in Washington.

It's been just a year since he was named to the position, but Donohue has already left his mark on the organization, according to association officials. He has created an Institute for Legal Reform to fight the explosion of litigation, and reached out to new members, said the chamber.

Before returning to the chamber, Donohue headed the American Trucking Association. Before joining the ATA, he was group vice president of the chamber.

Jerry Jasinowski

Jasinowski is president and chief executive officer of the politically powerful National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 big and small manufacturers in the United States. A former factory worker who was also a military intelligence officer and economics professor, 59-year-old Jasinowski is a high-profile association executive. He is often quoted in the press and is known as a strong advocate for the NAM, as well as the association business in general.

"He is out there and is very well-connected in the media and the government," said a spokeswoman for NAM.

Jasinowski has been head of NAM since 1990. Before that, he was the association's executive vice president and chief economist.

Bill Kelly

Kelly is an executive at Smith, Bucklin and Associates, a District-based consulting firm that manages between 180 and 200 associations in the greater Washington area. Smith, who is 59, manages three associations -- Viatical Association of America, National Association of Settlement Purchasers and National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs.

Before getting into the association management business eight years ago, Kelly spent 28 years in the Navy, retiring with the rank of captain.

Kelly is on the board of directors of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives.

Lisa Wolf-Menditch

Wolf-Menditch is the current chairman of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and executive director of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America in Washington.

She was born and raised in North Carolina and came to Washington 17 years ago, where she got a job as a receptionist at the ACCA. Within three months she was promoted to administrative assistant to then executive vice president and CEO Jim Norris. Three-and-a-half years later Wolf-Menditch became executive director.

Michael Olson

Fifty-four-year-old Olson got what is probably the top job in associations this past summer when he was named president and chief executive officer of the American Society of Association Executives. He succeeded R. William Taylor who retired after 17 years in the position. Olson formerly operated Olson Management Group Inc., an association management company in Raleigh.

Olson says one of his key jobs is to educate the public and legislators about the value of associations. "That is probably our biggest challenge," said Olson.

David Parker

Fifty-eight-year-old David Parker became president and chief executive officer of the American Gas Association one year ago after serving as president of the Aluminum Association for eight years. Before that, he was with the Edison Electric Insitute, where he went after serving in the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Last year, Parker served as chairman of the American Society of Association Executives.

Parker has been active in efforts to raise the public consciousness of associations. At the gas association, he has tried to increase the organization's lobbying efforts, as witnessed by the AGA's planned move from Arlington to the Capitol Hill area in the District.

Jeffrey Raynes

Raynes, 44, is probably the youngest member of this group, so it might be expected that his claim to fame is technology. According to association sources, Raynes is one of the people pushing associations toward the 21st century by encouraging the greater use of technology to service members.

Raynes is the executive director and chief operating officer of APICS -- The Educational Society for Resource Management, an 275-chapter association based in Falls Church. According to an association spokeswoman, Raynes was brought in for his managment experience. Before joining APICS, Raynes was CEO of the North American Die Casting Association. He held his first association managment position at age 27.

Susan Sarfati

Sarfati is the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, the association of associations based in the metro area.

Sarfati, 56, has been the top executive at the GWSAE for five years and before that was an executive with the American Society of Association Executives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In a recent interview, Sarfati said she gets frustrated at associations' unwillingness to take risks or to discontinue outdated operations. Her biggest challenge, she said, is to constantly push associations to move forward and "push the envelope."



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