Personal Reflections on 15 Years in Association Management – Guest Post by Shawn Boynes, CAE

I’m so thrilled and honored to present my first guest blogger of Association Advocacy Chick, Shawn Boynes, CAE.  In this post, he explores the lessons he’s learned during his  career as an association executive. 

Several months ago, my dear friend and colleague, Stefanie Reeves (or better known here as Association Advocacy Chick), asked me to be a guest blogger.  I didn’t think twice about it and gladly accepted the invitation.  Pressure on!

As I pondered what to write, I realized that I have somewhat of an interesting perspective to share and one that isn’t shared very often.  I hope to enlighten a few and maybe even open dialogue for many.

As I reflect on my experiences in this incredibly rewarding profession, surprisingly, not much has changed.  15 years ago, I was the first African-American man hired by the association I worked for at the time. It was shocking to me because D.C. has a strong population of educated African-Americans.  Surely I wasn’t one of a kind.  Well, fast forward; there’s still a lack of diversity in many organizations and as I’ve risen to senior level positions in other associations, I’m still just one of a few.  I no longer ask why but instead ask what can I do to help change it?

I’ve had many incredible opportunities and met people who inspired me along the way.  One thing that has stuck with me is a conversation I had with Velma Hart (2009 ASAE Chair) several years ago at ASAE’s Future Leaders Conference.  I shared my frustrations with her and asked her for guidance on how to deal with the pressures of being “the only one”.  She in essence told me to “show up” and be visible to represent for others like me.  Since then, I’ve become more engaged in ASAE; I became a DELP Scholar; and earned my CAE.  All have provided me with a platform to break into certain “circles” that wouldn’t have been options to me.  I took Velma’s words seriously and I’m showing up!

It is with clear intent that I hope to inspire other African-American male association executives to do the same – be visible and show up.  I also have a responsibility to reach back and pull others up and along with me.  I will be the trailblazer and pave the way for others instead of sitting back waiting for it to miraculously change.  Consider this my call to action –brothers let’s make it happen!

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2 thoughts on “Personal Reflections on 15 Years in Association Management – Guest Post by Shawn Boynes, CAE

  1. Well-said, Shawn, and I dd to this that you “show up” and you “do” – you are a mensch and always have been.

    THAT said, I will keep questioning “why” there is not more diversity in association management – and especially in upper management. It’s a bit like women in the meetings side of the industry and in hospitality on the supplier side – and they do show up!

    So how do we tackle this? Do we find more mentors? More advocates?

    I have more questions than answers. And I want an association world that reflects far better the current and changing population of the US and the world.

  2. this is such a very well written and truthful piece. the subject matter is relevant to many industries. i use to be in association management and i saw it for sure. i am in the events industry now and it exist here too. bothers do need to start rising to the occasion and start making it happen. i’m going to do my part. way to go shawn for stepping up, speaking on it, and making it happen….keep moving!

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