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A year of firsts

Taking the helm is a big step in normal times; trying to stay on course through COVID-19, racial strife is more than anyone expected

Sept. 11, 2020
By William Ehart

Watch that first year—it’s a doozy. Throw in a pandemic and an emotional confrontation on racial equity driven by a series of killings, and the task of first-time association CEOs has been downright daunting the past 12 months.

CEO Update interviewed five such chief executives to hear the challenges they overcame, the lessons learned and the new opportunities they found.

Fortunately, their associations were generally on sound financial footing and their industries were not devastated by stay-at-home orders and restrictions on businesses. Three did lose a substantial portion of revenue because of the impact on their meetings, and one of those also had to navigate dissatisfaction among some staff with its response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

One association had to scramble to convince governments its industry is essential. Another instituted short-term objectives to keep remote workers engaged and on track.