Are you interested in applying? Do you have questions about the program? Contact Sonnia Montemayor at [email protected] or (804) 747-4971.

Launched in 2018, VSAE’s leadership development program, Association Leadership Virginia (ALV), is aimed at developing leaders for the Commonwealth’s association management industry. There are plenty of leadership development programs though there is no program that combines personal leadership development with the unique skills of leading an association in Virginia . . . until now.

ALV is a leadership journey. During the year-long cohort-style program participants will learn about their communication styles and how they affect their own personal leadership. They will map out a plan to achieve their goals regardless of career stage. Participants will then apply these leadership lessons as they learn about all the important aspects of running a membership association here in Virginia. See a full list of these content pillars below.

At the end of the program, the participants will graduate as more rounded leaders better educated about association management. They will also have a network of colleagues on whom they can call for counsel. And the associations that employ them will have more effective, efficient, and productive workers to best serve their constituencies. This is not a program solely focused on soft-skills and personal development. It is a program that will use those skills to build association leaders for the future. 

Content Pillars

Leadership - Developing association leaders is the main goal of this program. During the year-long program, participants will learn about their own leadership style and how to harness their own style to have a positive impact in their organization. This will include self-reflection exercises, a program project, and peer-to-peer learning. Each of the other content pillars will focus on an aspect of leadership, ensuring that this remains the most important of them all.

Membership Life Cycle: Recruit, Engage & Retain - Having a clear understanding of why members join, how associations can engage them, and how to ensure they renew year after year is an essential skill for any association leader. This pillar will cover the important points to consider in the membership life cycle. It will touch on growth and outreach strategies, membership engagement, and best practices for high retention.

HR & Finance - Finding and retaining the right people in an organization is a challenge nearly every leader faces. Leaders must also know how to read financial statements, draft a budget, and oversee an audit process. This pillar focuses on the administration of an association including human resources and finance. It will cover applicable employment laws, best practices for employee engagement, and financial topics unique to non-profit organizations like filing the IRS 990 form.

Program & Volunteer Management - Program delivery is one of the most important drivers of member value for associations. Related to that is having the right leadership in place on the board and in other volunteer positions. This pillar will focus on program delivery including types of programs, delivery methods, and some of the basics of meeting planning. It will also focus on board and volunteer management, including how to recruit and work with a board of directors.

Advocacy & Community - For many associations, advocacy is the main focus. Leaders must be able to advocate for members and the industry with legislators, regulators, and other stakeholders. These leaders must also be able to effectively communicate about advocacy efforts and to the broader community. This pillar will touch on the keys to successful advocacy and may include media training as well. 

Who Should Apply

This program is open to anyone interested in leadership in the association industry. It is not an age-restricted program. Potential applicants include the following.

  • Early-career professionals who are committed to the association industry and interested in future leadership positions. 
  • Mid-career professionals who are ready to move into a chief staff officer or other c-suite role.
  • Professionals who have recently transitioned into the association profession from another industry (e.g. new executive directors from the industry they represent).
  • Anyone interested in a comprehensive leadership program with specific association management content. 

Application Process

All interested participants must submit an application with a copy of their résumé. The application also requires a letter of recommendation from the applicant's CEO/Executive Director or board chair and thoughtful answers to three short essay questions: 

  • What is an accomplishment and/or experience that you feel will help you contribute in a meaningful way to this program?
  • What do you hope to gain personally and professionally from participating in this program?
  • If you were designing a leadership program, what is the single most important thing you would focus on to ensure sustainable leadership success? 


The program consists of six day-long sessions, the first of which will be held in conjunction with VSAE’s January Seminar on Friday, January 3, 2020. All sessions are located in Richmond, Va. unless otherwise noted.

In addition to attending at least 5 of the 6 sessions, attendees will be required to attend at least two VSAE Seminar Series events during the tenure of the program. Registration fees for these seminars are included in the cost of the program.

Full participation in this program will provide up to 32 hours of CAE credit.  


$1,495 - Member Organizations 
$1,595 - Non Member Organizations 
Tuition includes all six sessions with lunch, registration to the 2020 VSAE Annual Conference, and registration for 2 VSAE Seminar Series events. It does not include travel expenses or hotel accommodations. Participants will be billed upon acceptance into the program. 

VSAE Leadership Development Task Force

The Leadership Development Task Force is the brains behind this important program. This group of dedicated volunteers works tirelessly on content and speakers, promotion and marketing, and overall program support. The program would not be possible without their tireless support. 

Chair: Courtney Fleming; VA Bankers Association
Bob Bradshaw, MAM; Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia
Keith Hare; VA Health Care Association
Shannon McCabe, CAE; Association of Consulting Foresters
Molly Wash, CAE; VA Society of CPAs


VSAE has teamed up with Tom and Melissa Laughon, co-owners of Catch Your Limit to design and facilitate Association Leadership Virginia. Catch Your Limit was founded in 1999, has extensive association experience, and guides clients (from start-ups and non-profits to Fortune 500 companies) to measurable, sustainable success in transformational change, strategic planning, leadership cohesion, collaborative cultures/teams, recruitment, retention and more.