Surge Growth 2019

Surge Growth 2019 Logo

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SURGE is a free virtual conference where association professionals assemble from all corners of the world for productive conversations around innovation and change. The sessions are the seeds of discussion! During each session, a chat runs simultaneously, allowing attendees to contribute thoughts and talk with each other, as well as with speakers. After each event, we pull out notable insights and turn them into eBooks we make available to the community.

Why is the event called SURGE Growth? We believe associations should thrive, not merely exist! The subject of sustainable growth is multi-faceted, and the industry can truly benefit from these conversations by carefully examining potential areas for expansion. SURGE Growth is about maximizing each of the major factors that influence sustainable development and doing so with the right professionals to maximize your takeaways and, ultimately, your associations’ progression.


Sessions and Speakers

Thanks to our speakers, whose ideas are the very backbone of this event.

November 6th, 12:00PM – 1:00PM ET

How to Make Space for Great Ideas

Safi Bahcall

Former biotech CEO and author of “Loonshots”

It’s not good enough to have great ideas; your organization needs the space and tools to give them a chance to succeed, too. In a conversation with Wall Street Journal bestselling author Safi Bahcall, we learn about the three things our organizations need to nurture ideas that can change the world.

November 6th, 1:00PM – 2:00PM ET

Thinking Big with Small Teams

Angela McMillan

Director of Special Events, Communication, and Marketing Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS

Dr. Michael Tatonetti

Director of Certification and Education Professional Pricing Society

Jessica Johnson, CMP

Director, Education and Meetings SHEA

Meena Dayak

VP, Integrated Media and Communications American Public Power Association

Admit it: many people believe small staff associations have a disadvantage due to their size. If leveraged properly, which unique advantages move organizations forward with the same velocity as a larger staff association? With fierce focus, an innovative spirit, the ability to prioritize, and a willingness to go lean, there is much that a small group of people can accomplish. Get perspectives from four association leaders and see how they do backflips in productivity and team building to achieve far more than anyone would think possible with a small team.

November 6th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM ET

What’s the Problem With Problem Solving?

Emery Wolfe

Technology & Multimedia Specialist Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association

Giuseppe Marletta

Managing Director, Europe at Association of Corporate Counsel & President at ESAE

Maddy Marchildon

Director, Association Management & Consulting Services Redstone Agency Inc.

Rick Whelan, CDM

President Marketing General Incorporated (MGI)

Albert Einstein has been credited with saying, “If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would spend 19 days defining it.” Much has changed in the last 50+ years and now when time is money, few professionals have the luxury of taking 20 days to problem solve? This fast-paced conversation among the very busy shows that overly long decision times are a thing of the past. Hear from personal experiences and practical case studies how to both quickly diagnose your daily business problems and rank order solutions based on past problems you’ve tackled, trusted team input and your own gut instincts to forge a workable solution to any issue.

November 6th, 3:00PM – 4:00PM ET

Transforming member growth with automation

Dawn VanDamme

SVP | Nimble AMS, General Manager Community Brands

Kate Dodd

Vice President, Marketing, Event Technology Community Brands

Sigmund VanDamme

Membership Software Evangelist Community Brands

Tirrah Switzer, MBA

Product Marketing Manager Community Brands

Tristan Jordan

Executive Vice President, Careers & Education Solutions Community Brands

The accelerating pace of technology innovation poses a significant risk to associations. In the 2019 Digital Evolution study, associations reported workflow automation and artificial intelligence as one of the top areas they plan on investing in. Only 43% organization professionals reported that they feel technologically prepared for the future. Automation can be a first step towards digital transformation and empowering staff to spend more time on members instead of manual processes. Automating your repetitive tasks can take your team from mundane to magnificent. In this session, our panel experts will discuss examples how to automate processes and the next steps to take to add value and exceed member expectations.

November 7th, 12:00PM – 1:00PM ET

Transforming Your Organizational Culture

John Spence

Business Adviser, Workshop Facilitator and Coach

The key to supercharging your organization’s growth is in your organization’s culture. We sit down with business consultant, author and workshop facilitator John Spence to examine the right — and wrong — way to consider culture because if you’re not being intentional about it, it’s probably not working to your advantage. You’ll walk away with the tools to create and protect a more fun, engaging and rewarding workplace.

November 7th, 1:00PM – 2:00PM ET

Practical Techniques for Enhancing Business Intelligence Using Data


Dean Comber, PMP, CSM

Director, Software Initiatives – Health Solutions Group American Medical Association

Kanaka Sathasivan, MPH

Director of Communications Texas Nurses Association

Keith Darby, CAE, CMA, CSCA, CFE, MBA

Executive Director San Mateo County Medical Association

Mark Nelson, PhD, MBA, CAE

Executive Director System Dynamics Society

Research has demonstrated that the average human attention span now lags behind goldfish in our ability to focus on a task or object. In today’s digital age where data is saturated and attention spans are shortening, how can you strike a delicate balance between providing the right amount of data to drive organizational decision making? In this session, a diverse panel with varied backgrounds representing small, medium, and large organizations share their thoughts on data collection, utilization, and communication to support organizational knowledge. Panelists will share their experiences and provide practical techniques aimed at enhancing business intelligence as a platform for making data-driven business decisions.

November 7th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM ET

Beyond Data: It's time to listen to your members

Emily Taylor
Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Principal teenyBIG

John Losh

Membership Outreach Manager National Association of Counties

Keith Chamberlain, MBA, MA

Director of Membership Marketing & Experience Healthcare Financial Management Association

Victoria Forlini, CAE

Director American Geophysical Union

Have you had that “unsatisfied” survey experience? While surveys serve their purposes – they gather information quickly, are scalable, and inexpensive – they also have limitations when it comes to understanding what motivates members and keeps them with your organization. It’s time to break the same-old-results cycle! In this session, we will discuss how empathy, conversation, and meeting members where they are can bring change and results to your organization. Throughout this session, speakers will discuss real-life examples and lessons learned. We will address the ups and downs of working to better understand members, share the tools and strategies learned in the process, and show how breaking assumptions about member needs can bring lasting improvements to our organizations.

November 7th, 3:00PM – 4:00PM ET

Designing the Future of Your Association

Alex DeBarr

President & CEO Naylor Association Solutions

Garth Jordan

SVP Healthcare Financial Management Association

Mike Moss, CAE

President Society for College and University Planning

Rhea Steele, MS, CAE

Chief of Staff School Nutrition Association

The world in which associations operate is changing fast, which means leaders must understand the external forces that are vital to their organization’s growth and success. Please join our esteemed panel of association executives for an in-depth conversation about how they use practices like environmental scanning and design thinking to chart the course for the organization’s future. They’ll also discuss what it takes to build an executive team that best fits an association’s culture, plus other critical topic areas.

November 8th, 12:00PM – 1:00PM ET

Creating your Organization Vision — and How It’ll Help You Scale Up

Verne Harnish

Entrepreneurs’ Organization Founder and “Scaling Up” Author

There’s no way to grow an organization without first laying the groundwork of its vision. Using the lessons first sketched out in “Scaling Up,” Verne Harnsh walks us through the 10 Rockefeller Habits and how an organization can begin to grow intentionally. You’ll walk away knowing how to start your own journey to scaling up.

November 8th, 1:00PM – 2:00PM ET

Leveraging Unmet Member Needs to Define Your Value Proposition

Kathija “Kat” Mohammed, CHO, CHIA

Director of Education AAHOA

Marissa Bankert

Executive Director Central PA Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)

Nick Marzano, MEd

Director of Education Society of Hospital Medicine

Stephen Fox, MBA

Vice President, Membership and Constituent Relations American Nurses Association

We could all use a little more revenue in our budget. Most of us know revenue starts with understanding the needs of members, but what does it mean to think deeply about member needs? And how do we balance the needs of other stakeholders, like sponsors and non-members, who may be able to underwrite member needs? Hear from a panel of educators and executives as they share practical lessons learned through revenue wins, and open up about strategies that missed the mark.

November 8th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM ET

The New Power Model: Crowdsourcing Product Development with Members

Amy Thomasson

Director, Marketing Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Katherine Preede

Senior Director, Membership & Business Development American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living

Tori Liu, CAE, MBA

Director of Information Systems American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Veronica Diaz, PhD, CAE


Developing new products, services and programs for members can seem like an insurmountable challenge. This session will review the new power model as a method to utilize crowdsourcing in support of product development. Learn how to re-configure and systematize your approach new product development along with your member community and your organization to create buy-in and broad-based participation. We’ll offer takeaways that will help you to operationalize open dialogue, process, reasonable and tangible expectations, and the need for collaboration.

November 8th, 3:00PM – 4:00PM ET

Getting Smart About Artificial Intelligence

Amith Nagarajan

Chairman of Executive Chairman of

Often when people hear “artificial intelligence,” they think of sci-fi movies and robots taking over our jobs. and founder Amith Nagarajan will help us separate fact from fiction as we learn about the smartest ways to use AI. From tools to help boost productivity to creating new touch-points for your association to reach your members, we’ll hear about how incorporating AI can create growth opportunities in your organization.

Our Partners.

Hover over their logos to learn more about them.

How it Works

This event is being hosted by We are a facilitator of great ideas, so this conference is truly a collection of ideas and insights from dozens of people. We are also delighted to be partnering with a number of member societies across the globe, representing voices from all corners of the industry.

This is a three-day event from 12-4 p.m. EST on Nov. 6th-8th. Each session is an hour long, and is pre-recorded. This allows the speakers to spend the entire session period in the attendee chat answering your questions. At the same time, you will be able to communicate with the other attendees through the same chat.

This conference exists virtually, which means you can log on from anywhere. (But we do recommend you use a desktop or laptop computer using Chrome or Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge.)

Using a virtual conference gives us the opportunity to bring together thousands of association professionals from around the world.

Access the virtual conference here.

All attendees are required to have a free account with in order to participate.

The event occurs virtually, which means you just have to log in and go to the SURGE Growth event page and you’re ready to go. Once you’re there, you’ll see a video alongside the chat box; this video will auto update once SURGE goes live at 12 p.m. ET. on the day of the event.

The sessions are pre-recorded so that the speakers can spend the time answering attendee questions. They will be typing away furiously to reply to as many questions as possible in the live chat! Please note, not all speakers are available in the chat, but most do their best to attend live.

This will depend on individual preference of our speakers. For those who are willing to be contacted, they will provide their email addresses and LinkedIn profiles.

Professional members of will have access to SURGE videos after the event.

Yes, if you attend live! Once the event is over, we provide certificates of attendance to those who attend. Once all three days of SURGE are complete, you’ll be able to access these by logging in to and visiting our Learn page. There, you’ll be prompted to answer one question about each session. Once answered, you’ll be able to download a certificate for each hour of CAE credit you’ve obtained.

The best browsers for watching SURGE are Chrome and Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge.

For Safari users: You need to ensure your browser has enabled auto play. Do this by going to to Safari > Settings for this Website > Auto-Play > Allow all auto-play.

For Firefox users: You need to ensure your browser has enabled auto play. Do this by clicking on the lock icon to the left of the website URL in the bar above the web page. Once you click the lock icon, click the drop-down menu for Autoplay and select Allow Audio and Video.

Email your question to [email protected]. If you’re asking, you’re not the only one, and you will help us make our Q&A complete!

Email your question to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to troubleshoot with you!

*Association Success is a CMP Preferred Provider. The program(s) identified with the CMP Preferred Provider logo meet the requirements to receive continuing education (CE) credit for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential. The use of the CMP Preferred Provider Course logo is not an endorsement by the Events Industry Council of the quality of the session. For more information about the CMP credential or CMP Preferred Provider Program, please visit