August 16-18, 2020
Colonial Williamsburg Hotels
Williamsburg Lodge

VSAE’s vision is to be the best at making our members and their associations the best. This year’s annual conference focuses on that goal by bringing you nine quality educational breakout sessions offering the knowledge and training you need in order to excel for your association and its members. You'll also enjoy an insightful keynote speaker, a moderated panel of association professionals, Shared Interest Group meetings, and memories to last a lifetime. This is one conference you do not want to miss!

In addition to 6+ hours of CAE-approved, top-notch educational content, this year’s event is full of networking opportunities for you and your colleagues. Enjoy receptions, exquisite meals, and evening entertainment. Optional pre-conference activities include a nature walk, walking tour of historic Williamsburg, or golf on the classic Gold Course!   

See all this conference has to offer below. 

Other conference resources are linked here.



12:00-3:00 p.m. - Nature Walk at Bassett Hall
12:00-3:00 p.m. - Walking Tour of Historic Area
12:00-5:00 p.m. - 
Golf the Golden Horseshoe Gold Course
4:00-6:00 p.m. - Registration Open
5:30-6:00 p.m. - New Member and First-Time Attendee Meetup
6:00-7:30 p.m. - Opening Reception
7:30 p.m. - Dine on Your Own - View Options (Making reservations early is highly encouraged.)


6:30-7:30 a.m. - Yoga Wake Up
7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. - Registration Open
8:15-9:00 a.m. - Breakfast Buffet
9:00-9:15 a.m. - Opening Remarks
9:15-10:15 a.m. - Opening Keynote: Maximizing Communication for Association Leaders
10:15-10:30 a.m. - Networking Break
10:30-11:45 a.m. - Breakout Sessions

  • Don’t Overlook the Obvious: Safety and Site Selection
  • Grow and Sustain Your Organization with Data and Intel
  • Market Disruptions

12:00-1:00 p.m. - Lunch & Board Installation
1:00-1:45 p.m. - IGNITE Sessions
1:45-2:00 p.m. - Networking Break
2:00-3:30 p.m. - Breakout Sessions

  • Five Factors to Make Your Organization More Sustainable and Scalable
  • Less Doing, More Living: Productivity Tools for CEOs
  • Reversing the Trend: Re-imagining Membership Recruitment and Retention

3:30-3:45 p.m. - Networking Break
3:45-4:45 p.m. - Shared Interest Group (SIG) meetings
5:30-6:15 p.m. - Presidents Reception (invitation only)
6:15-7:15 p.m. - Reception
7:15-9:00 p.m. - Dinner and Dessert
9:00-10:00 p.m. - Entertainment


8:30-9:30 a.m. - Breakfast Buffet
9:30-10:45 a.m. - Breakout Sessions

  • Association Ethics: Navigating Murky Waters
  • Building a Competency-Based Board
  • Listen, Lead – Building Stronger Member Relationships Through Communication & Listening

10:45-11:00 a.m. - Networking Break
11:00-11:15 a.m. - Opening Remarks
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Closing Panel Discussion

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Your registration fee includes all educational sessions (over 6 hours of CAE credit), two receptions, all meals on Monday and breakfast on Tuesday, and both the opening and closing keynote sessions.


Paid by Jul 24

Jul 25 - Aug 9
After Aug 9
$220 $250 $280
$250 $280 $310
Spouse/Guest* $185 $215 $245

* Spouse/guest registration must accompany an individual registration. It includes Sunday night reception; Monday night reception, dinner, and entertainment; and Tuesday breakfast.

Sunday, August 16

Paid by Jul 24
Paid after Jul 24

Nature Walk at Bassett Hall (12:00-3:00)
VSAE Member



Walking Tour of Historic Area (12:00-3:00)
VSAE Member




Golf on the Golden Horseshoe Gold Course
VSAE Member




  * All activities include lunch. 



1 ticket
3 tickets
9 tickets $50
20 tickets $100

Win a stay at a hotel or resort, a gift basket, a round of golf, a gift certificate for a restaurant or other great prizes. Typically there are 20-25 items in the raffle.


All registrations must be prepaid prior to the conference. Refunds will be made on the following scale: through July 3 - less a $25.00 administrative fee, from  July 4-17 - 75% of fees, from July 18-24 - 50% of fees. No refunds will be made after July 24. Substitutions are welcome at any time.

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Full session descriptions, including key takeaways are listed on the Official VSAE mobile app, Engagefully by RD Mobile.

Opening Keynote

Maximizing Communication for Association Leaders
Juanita McDowell*

Effective communication doesn’t happen by accident. From sharing your culture and vision to addressing issues that creep up within your organization, there are many nuances to communicating as a leader. This session will provide ten tips to strengthen your association by improving your communication with staff members.

Monday Morning Breakout Sessions (10:30-11:45 a.m.)

Don't Overlook the Obvious: Safety and Site Selection
Alan Kleinfeld

With acts of violence in the news so often, you’re probably thinking of ways to keep your meeting and your attendees safe. But are you overlooking a key element? What about the venue? Is it a help or a hindrance? There are ways the venue can help in your safety plan to keep you, your staff, your stakeholders and your attendees safer. This session offers points and takeaways on how to conduct a site visit from a safety and security perspective. Venues are easy to overlook. Make sure you don’t forget to include them.

Grow and Sustain Your Organization with Data and Intel
Juanita McDowell*

Most people agree that the key to success involves finding the right people, at the right time, with the right message. But how do you go about it? In this session, you will learn how to find insider information about prospective members, donors, and partners that will enable you to generate meaningful connections and grow your organization, which is more important than ever as we deal with the effects of COVID-19. You will also learn how to gather intel you never thought possible on people and companies important to your organization.

Market Disruptions
Scott Wayne

What do the best innovators and negotiators have in common? They recognize patterns, and breaks in patterns. They evaluate threats and opportunities from multiple perspectives. They observe behaviors rather than survey behaviors. They model choices and build interventions to redirect those choices. This session provides distinguishes between product innovation (the creation of new products) and market innovation (the creation of new markets) and examines the role that negotiation techniques play in each. The audience is guided through common negotiation tools and how they can be deployed to generate new insights and concepts, pitch executives, and manage stakeholders.

Monday Afternoon Breakout Sessions (2:00-3:30 p.m.)

Five Factors to Make Your Organization More Sustainable and Scalable
Lori Ruffin

Executive leaders frequently ask questions such as: how can I serve my customers better, how can I grow my client base, are we sustainable? While they are busy wearing many hats, focusing on the urgent and being comfortable in their expertise, the real barriers standing between them and greater impact are factors outside of their expertise. In this session, we will outline five key areas that every organization must master if they want to be more scalable and sustainable, know what questions to ask to assess your organization in each area, and learn specific action items to strengthen the areas discussed in the session.

Less Doing, More Living: Productivity Tools for CEOs
Scot McRoberts, MPA, IOM

This workshop leans heavily on the work of Ari Meisel, an entrepreneur who uses his insights into personal and professional productivity to help others live more and do less. In this session, Scot will introduce you to tools and techniques that can help executives clear the clutter from their minds and their desks. Expect to discuss email, delegation, and tech tools that automate mindless tasks. Hands-on demos and discussion will give participants immediate results.

Reversing the Trend: Reimagining Membership Recruitment and Retention
Andrew Smith

This interactive session will share several real-world case studies of how successful digital marketing and social media strategies helped associations reverse the trend of declining membership growth and low levels of membership retention. initiate-it, a full-service agency in Richmond, Va., serves as the catalyst to launch its client associations on a long-term path to sustainable growth and vitality. The team from initiate-it will share how the agency first established measurable benchmarks and KPIs of success and then executed a membership acquisition campaign with a strong search marketing component that resulted in double-digit conversion rates of transforming potential members into full-fledged, dues-paying members. Andrew Smith and his colleagues will demonstrate how to create content that not only resonates with association members, but also enables the members to view the association in a new light, leading to increased digital engagement, higher attendance at events and improved rates of retention. And all without increasing the association’s media budget – a win-win-win by any definition!

Tuesday Morning Breakout Sessions (9:45-11:00 a.m.)

Association Ethics: Navigating Murky Waters
Blake Hegeman, Esq., CAE

This session will focus on association ethics in a comprehensive manner. Blake will explain the ethical obligations association volunteers and employees owe to their organizations; whether a Code of Ethics should be considered for your organization; and how to avoid common, but serious pitfalls in existing association ethics codes. Blake will conduct a lively question and answer session to address those burning questions you have always had about gray areas in association management.

Building a Competency-Based Board
Karen Silberman and Dr. Ray Tuck, Jr.

A key element of a successful association is committed leaders with the background and business acumen to meet the challenges inherent in leading a 21st century organization. The session will explore how to build and maintain a competency based board. The session covers how to determine the competencies needed in your organization, how to effective recruit board members, onboarding new members, board evaluations and processes for continued improvement. You'll receive templates and resources that you can implement within your organization immediately.

Listen, Lead - Building Stronger Member Relationships Through Communication & Listening
Kiki L'Italien

Scholars link trust in communities to stronger volunteerism, healthier lifestyles, and economic prosperity. But in an age of dwindling global trust, how do you create the strong, sustainable and lasting relationships with your members emphasizing curiosity, diversity, and loyalty? And does trust really matter that much? Lack of trust can be a deal-breaker. Forty-two percent of people surveyed in a 2018 study for Accenture said they left a company within the past year because they had lost trust in it. The same research found that decreasing trust was tied to decreasing revenue. Trust has become material. Successful brands, institutions, and movements count on five essential elements to make stronger connections with people. In this session, KiKi shares what you need to know in order to build a lasting, successful, trust-based community built for today’s noisy, skeptical, and overwhelmed environment.

Closing Panel Discussion

Associations Today
Scott Wayne

During this closing session, Scott will facilitate a conversation among six association professionals on trending topics of the day.

IGNITE Sessions (1:00-1:45 p.m.)

Back by popular demand, this year’s conference will feature IGNITE presentations from attendees. IGNITE presentations are fast-paced five minute presentations with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. Topics range from the personal to the professional. Click here for additional information and to sign up!

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All activities include lunch.

Nature Walk at Bassett Hall (12:00-3:00 p.m.)

Join our volunteer Master Naturalist Guides for a morning guided nature walk along the Bassett Trace Nature Trail. The Bassett Woodlands are home to a diverse collection of native plants and is a birding “hotspot” with over 40 bird species that can be observed seasonally. Please note: this event is weather permitting. There will be a discussion about the flora and fauna to be seen along the trail as well as a discussion of the history of the area. We recommend walking shoes (no sandals), bug repellent and bottled water for each hiker. Birders may want to bring binoculars. The nature walk portion of the trail is fairly level and easy to walk. Hikers may want to take advantage of the entire 1.4 mile trail which ends at the Golden Horseshoe Green Course Clubhouse, where lunch will be served. Participants may walk back or enjoy a complimentary shuttle.

Walking Tour of Historic Area (12:00-3:00 p.m.) 

Enjoy a guided walking tour of the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg. The 18th century comes to life through the men, women, free, enslaved, gentry, and tradespeople you will meet at government sites, their homes, and historic trade shops. Go ahead, ask them questions! Then enjoy a boxed lunch under the arbors outside at Chownings Beer Garden located at the Historic Chownings Tavern. One drink ticket for beer or wine will be included per person. Participants must be 21+ years of age.

Golf the Golden Horseshoe Gold Course (12:00-5:00 p.m.)

Recently renovated by “the Open Doctor” Rees Jones, the Gold Course carries the design philosophy of creator Robert Trent Jones Sr. forward for today’s golfer. The Gold Course now features the latest in modern turf grasses, new grass on the fairways, greens, and surrounding roughs, and utilizes “Better Billy Bunker” construction to improve the drainage, look, and playability of bunkers. Tees have been re-leveled, resurfaced, and reimagined, and the expansion of the practice putting green and range gives golfers plenty of opportunity to work on their long and short games. Each of the Gold Course’s four par 3’s presents a visually exciting challenge, and is uniquely memorable in its own right. Even if you’ve played Gold before, you’ll find a few new surprises with the evolution of this timeless classic.


To reserve a room call (800) 261-9530 Monday through Friday 8 am-5 pm, ask for the VSAE Conference rate, and identify yourself as an Executive or an Associate member. Or use the online links here: Executive Members or Associate Members. All rates are subject to applicable state and county taxes as well as occupancy fees. Deadline for room reservations is Friday, July 24, 2020. After this deadline, rooms are on a space and rate available basis. Check-in is 4:00 p.m. and check-out is 11:00 a.m.

Executive members* $139
Associate members   $159

* Complimentary accommodations for Executive members on Monday night are NOT available.

Williamsburg Lodge
310 S. England St.
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(855) 294-5683

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To further enhance your conference experience, VSAE has partnered with Results Direct to bring attendees a mobile app: Engagefully. Download the mobile app (Download for Apple | Download for Android). The app is designed to help you navigate the conference, connect with other attendees, and engage on social media. You may view the mobile app on your desktop here.
To download the app to your phone or tablet.

  1. Download and install Engagefully from your phone's app store.
  2. Open the Engagefully app and search for VSAE.
  3. Tap VSAE.

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