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ASAE CEO Graham diagnosed with cancer, steps back from day-to-day management

EVP Susan Robertson has been named interim president and CEO


June 28, 2019
By William Ehart

John Graham, 16-year CEO of ASAE, has been diagnosed with cancer and has stepped back from day-to-day management of the group. The type of cancer has not been disclosed.

EVP Susan Robertson has been named interim president and CEO of the $34 million-revenue association of association executives. She also is president of the ASAE Foundation. Robertson described an organization shocked by the news but determined to carry on and ultimately welcome Graham back.

"We're taking to heart the word interim because we are expecting John to recover fully and come back," she said. "You have a fine line you tread in being an interim CEO but also being mindful that when your leader comes back you want to hand over the reins in such a way that you've done a great job and moved things forward as he would want us to."
ASAE staff and members were notified on Thursday.

Graham sent the following statement to members:

“I have some unfortunate news to share with you. Late last week, I received a diagnosis of cancer.

“There are many details that I have to learn and understand about the cancer and my treatment options. I expect that I will soon start treatment, with the goal of complete recovery. In the interim, I will be working from home. I am happy to receive emails and other written communications during this time.

“Consistent with the ASAE Board of Directors’ long-standing plan for continuity of operations, Susan Robertson, CAE will be serving as interim President & CEO. Susan has long since proven her ability to lead the ASAE Research Foundation, and she has been my partner in guiding ASAE for many years.  Susan has my full confidence in taking on these duties until I am able to return full-time.

“We look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting & Exposition in Columbus!”

ASAE Senior Manager of Public Relations Lauren Precker said ASAE had no further information on the type of cancer.

“He’s still going to be informed and participating but just at a much lower level,” Precker said.

Graham has sought a second opinion and is evaluating treatment options, Robertson said.