5 Questions for Mary Ann Passi, CAE

RGI has talented, knowledgeable and professional executive directors guiding strategy and direction for all client associations. This month, we recognize these leaders with a new blog series. We asked each of RGI’s executive directors five questions about what they’ve learned and where they see the future of association management.

This week we feature Mary Ann Passi, CAE. Mary Ann is the executive director for the Corporate Housing Providers Association. Mary Ann has more than 20 years of experience in association management and has been with RGI for 15 years.

Question 1: What about association management do you enjoy most?

MAP: The variety and the passion of the members. For me, the variety of what I do for different industries, different associations and with many different leaders keeps it interesting. I enjoy being able to help volunteers lead their organizations toward their definition of success and elevate the professionalism with which they do so. I’ve learned a lot from the wide variety of management styles with whom I’ve worked and supported.

I’ve met incredible professionals and people who are fascinating in both their personal and professional lives. I’ve had the privilege to partner with some amazing people that I would otherwise not have met. We come together to focus our energies together to make things happen. Some pretty interesting things have resulted from incongruous partnerships. I have learned something from each and every one of these people, and continue learning every day. I’ve been challenged, confronted, supported and consulted by some truly amazing people.

Question 2: What about association management keeps you up at night?

MAP: Getting strong leaders to drive organizations successfully toward their common goals given the very real limitations in which we need to operate.

Being able to support them as much as they need to be supported–I always see more that can be done and more that I can do.

Question 3: What is the greatest challenge you face in your role as an exec?

MAP: These change as organizations continue to grow and morph. Right now, I’d say dealing with many varied leaders. The personalities of the people with whom I work – and getting them aligned for the betterment of the organization instead of personal agendas. The people themselves change annually (and at times, more frequently than that). Being able to quickly develop working relationships and trust is critical to being able to work together well.

Question 4: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started in association management?

MAP: That there is so much gray in learning how to navigate the nuances of what we do. And to be patient and view each issue from a variety of perspectives. Knowing that together we are stronger for having difficult conversations, candid dialogues and at times, waiting for the ‘crisis’ to pass to be able to see the issues more clearly.

Question 5: Where do you see associations in 10 years? 20 years?

MAP: I see associations as still going strong, however, the “traditional” association will look very different. It will be more technologically savvy and be far more nimble than some associations are today. That’s the way life is going so associations need to keep up to attract younger members and dynamic leaders.