Are you interested in developing your leadership skills and advancing your career in the association industry? 

Association Leadership Virginia (ALV) is a leadership journey aimed at developing leaders for the Commonwealth’s association management industry. 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 now and for the future. 

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

2020 ALV Graduates

Ally Barbour, Hilb Group
Lisette Carbajal
Natasha Chernault, American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia
Alison Cockrell, Custom Management Group
Cathy Crossfield, CAE, Organization Management Group
Jennifer Gray, Associated General Contractors of Virginia
Missy Gupton, Associated General Contractors of Virginia
Ashley Hutson, Heavy Construction Contractors Association
Talley King, Virginia Society of CPAs
Sarah Mattes Marshall, Virginia College of Emergency Physicians
Christine McCormick, Virginia Association of Health Plans
Elizabeth Nelson, CAE, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations
Whitney Perkins, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
Rachel Reim, Associated General Contractors of Virginia
Brandon Robinson, CAE, Associated General Contractors of Virginia
Michelle Runge, American Inns of Court
Jeff Schmid, United Network for Organ Sharing
Linda Worthington, Worthington Association Management

"I registered for Association Leadership Virginia primarily to earn CAE hours. For 30+ credits, the price was a no-brainer. I had few expectations about the program content, nor did I have delusions that I’d form magical relationships with my classmates. I was happily surprised! Tom and Melissa Laughon, the program deans and facilitators, were phenomenal as they expertly weaved the content pillars with leadership development. They also allowed time for the class to discuss professional experiences and challenges which turned into one of the more effective learning tools for me. As the year progressed, I became more and more excited to attend each session and gladly drove 90 minutes from Northern Virginia to do so. I can’t recommend this program enough."

Jerry Layne
Senior Director of Operations
Industrial Designers Society of America


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 Register

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

In addition to attending at least 5 of the 6 day-long sessions, attendees will be encouraged 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.


$1,495 - VSAE Members 
$1,595 - Non Members
Tuition includes all six sessions with lunch, registration for the VSAE Annual Conference, and registration for two VSAE Seminar Series events. It does not include travel expenses or hotel accommodations. 


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.