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Association Leadership Awards honors three executives

Graham, Keenan and Timmons recognized at CEO Update’s sixth annual awards event

3winnersFrom left to right: Graham, Keenan and Timmons 

Oct. 3, 2019
By Martin Berman-Gorvine

There was magic in the air at CEO Update’s sixth annual Association Leadership Awards luncheon Oct. 3. Crowd-pleasing performances by magician and comedian Derek Hughes were interspersed throughout the celebration of three executives and the contributions they’ve made to their organizations and to society.

The 2019 honorees are Trade Association CEO of the Year Jay Timmons, National Association of Manufacturers; Professional Society CEO of the Year Barbara Byrd Keenan, Endocrine Society; and Association Lobbyist of the Year Mike Graham, American Dental Association.

Videos about each winner and the award presentations linked the personal qualities and life stories of the honorees to their professional accomplishments. About 400 people attended the luncheon held at Grand Hyatt Washington. Emcees for the event were Craig Purser, CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, and Lezlee Westine, CEO of the Personal Care Products Association.

Jim Clarke, former senior vice president of public policy at ASAE, presented the first award to Graham.  Clarke said he admires the lobbyist’s knowledge and especially his passion.

“It’s the passion—always the passion, the enthusiasm (Graham brings) into this work,” Clarke said, as well as “a knack for the legislative process” and “a great communication skill, coupled with a grassroots knowledge.”

Erin Fuller, president of association solutions at MCI USA, presented the award to Keenan. Fuller had worked for Keenan many years earlier at the Community Associations Institute.

Working for Keenan, Fuller recalled, was “like working for a character in a fairy tale who is powered by perpetual motion. … Barbara is a great leader. She creates a magical world where accomplishments are celebrated, anniversaries are serious milestones, and you shut down the entire office to go see the first Harry Potter movie when it comes out.”

Josh Bolten, CEO of Business Roundtable, presented the award to Timmons. Bolten spoke about how, when he joined BRT nearly three years ago, Timmons welcomed him as a collaborator rather than a competitor.  

“Jay pours his entire self into any cause he takes up,” Bolten said, citing his “exceptional leadership” of NAM over the past nine years, “nearly doubling NAM’s size and making it a shining example of what a modern association can and should be.”

More coverage of the 2019 Association Leadership Awards will be in the Oct. 11 issue of CEO Update, in print and online.