Join us for the 2017 WSAE Summit: People, Purpose and Passion: Pathway to Success, October 30 & 31, at the Madison Marriott West! Now in its seventh year, the Summit promises to provide resourceful programming to help association professionals be creative thinkers and offer effective solutions to their members. It's an excellent venue to challenge your thinking and learn from your peers and other association experts. Don’t miss the Industry Partner Expo to visit our industry partner booths and catch up on their products and services. You’ll want to leave your business clothes behind and wear your jeans so you’re ready to jump in on all the fun and networking opportunities. Plus, the Awards Celebration will again take place on Monday evening of the Summit to recognize WSAE peers who have inspired us all. See below for the tentative schedule and click here to register today



9:00 am
Wisconsin Foyer

Registration Opens

9:30-10:30 am

Lessons from American Family: A Legacy Company Shifting Its Culture to be More Innovative 

Brenda Koenig, FCAS, MAAA, Ignite Vice President, American Family Insurance Company

Just like our business colleagues, "Innovation" has been a buzzword in the association world for some time.  We all know that many in the association world still struggle with what it means to be innovative, and how can we apply corporate best practices in this area to our world. With almost 90 years in business, American Family took on the task of shifting its culture to be more innovative. Hear from Brenda Koenig, Ignite Vice President, American Family Insurance Company about their efforts. She'll share the programs that are being implemented and discuss the challenges, new opportunities and best practices that have arisen, as they strategically implement changes to drive innovation.

10:30-11:45 am

TRACK ONE: Inside Out Marketing for Your Association

Mike DiFrisco, CAE, Sr. Director of Marketing, Experimental Aircraft Association

If you understand the importance of developing your foundation—your brand strategy—you should have a grasp of your INSIDE REALITY, those attributes that make your organization relevant, authentic, and differentiated. Now it’s time to reflect your Inside Reality in your OUTSIDE PERCEPTIONS—your marketing and communications. That’s the essence of Inside Out Marketing and it’s critical for both getting and keeping of members and supporters.

10:30-11:45 am
Salons FGH

TRACK TWO: Owners, Customers and Employees – who is a governing board to listen to?

Mark Thorsby, CAE, Vice President – Consulting Services, SmithBucklin & Bernadette Patton, CAE

From our first days on the job working for an association, we have all learned that the governing board represents the interests of the members.  In reality, that assumption is one of those complex concepts each organization needs to study for itself.  This interactive session will provide participants an opportunity to explore this concept further since members of associations tend to consider themselves owners, customers and “unpaid” employees – the volunteers.  These simultaneous, and sometimes conflicting, roles and priorities can cause confusion in the boardroom and headquarters.  This session will help participants see this issue clearer and walk away with tools to lead a discussion with their boards of directors around this concept.

11:45 am-1:00 pm

WSAE Industry Partner Expo & Lunch

Don’t miss this year’s Halloween-themed expo to visit our industry partner booths and catch up on their products and services. Show your support for the many CVBs, hotels and other providers that engage with WSAE!

1:00-1:45 pm

Developing Your Culture as a Growth (And Brand) Strategy

Sandy Marsico, CEO, Sandstorm®



Like any other small business, Sandstorm® had growing pains. But the brand experience agency flourished by defining and building their culture—they doubled staff, moved into bigger digs, and grew revenue by 300%. Through personal stories, CEO Sandy Marsico will share 5 takeaways on how she transformed her company culture, and how you can build your association’s brand from the inside out to achieve explosive growth.

1:45-2:30 pm

TRACK ONE: Creating a Young Professionals Group at Your Association

Aaron Manogue, Marketing Manager, AMPED Association Management

Young professionals are the future of your association and that’s why it’s imperative that you have a plan on how to get them involved now. Believe it or not, most young professionals do in fact want to be active members, they just need the tools to do so. Learn the most important things to consider when creating a young professionals group so your young members can get value out of your association and stay engaged.

1:45-2:30 pm
Salons FGH

TRACK TWO: You're Leaving, Now What? 12 Tips for a Smooth Transition 

Bernadette Patton, CAE & Dennis Tomorsky, CPA, JD, CGMA, President & CEO, Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants

2:30-3:00 pm


3:00-3:30 pm

TRACK ONE: Meeting & Hotel Trends

Michelle Hilsabeck, Senior Account Executive, Marriott

3:00-3:30 pm
Salons FGH

TRACK TWO: Crisis Communications Management

Brian Lee, APR, President, Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

A crisis can happen to any organization of any size or industry. Brian Lee, APR, will discuss what you can do to prepare for a crisis and then once it happens, how to mitigate it and restore public trust. Brian also will go over case studies submitted by WSAE members.

3:30-4:00 pm

Doing Well by Doing Good

Lannia Stenz, Executive Director/CEO, Gilda’s Club Madison & Leanne Puglielli, PhD, Owner, DemoSoph Enterprises

In this fast-paced 30-minute presentation, we will discuss the growing importance of volunteer engagement for increased profit/donations/productivity, help you explore the story you tell to engage volunteers, touch on how you can more effectively tap into the professional skills of your volunteers, and offer resources that will help you improve how you thank those who donate time.

4:00-5:00 pm

Hands-On Community Outreach Project: Gilda's Club

6:00-8:30 pm

WSAE Reception & Awards Celebration

Join us for an evening of celebration as we recognize WSAE peers who have inspired us all.


8:00-9:00 am

WSAE Solutions Network Breakfast 

The WSAE Solutions Network is your place to ask questions, seek solutions, and discover new trends and practices. It’s also a great place to learn from your WSAE peers. Find your “spoke” and join the conversation.

9:00-9:45 am

How to Become a Social Media Rock Star

Spencer X Smith, Principal,

Social media is the best means ever invented to grow both your personal reputation as well as that of your company. Where and how should you spend your time, though? Which platforms? Which kind of content? In this session, Spencer X Smith will share what works for both himself and his clients around the country, and you'll learn both how-to tactics and strategy via Spencer's Personal Branding Power Hour to skyrocket your reputation too.

9:45-10:00 am

WSAE Annual Business Meeting

10:00-11:00 am

5 Trends Your Association Shouldn’t Ignore

Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, President & CEO, Avenue M Group, LLC

The biggest distinction between a trend and a fad is time. Fads fade whereas trends tend to solve problems or provide better solutions. Trends have the power to influence and change behavior. Organizations that ignore trends will just need to catch up later. From cord-cutting to the loyalty among Millennials and Generation Z, Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, author of the Art of Membership, will identify the 5 trends associations cannot ignore, raise questions you should be discussing with your staff and leadership and provide examples of solutions being adopted by some organizations.

11:00-11:45 am

Curing Adultitis: Your Prescription for Less Stress and More Success

Jason Kotecki, Artist, Author and Speaker, Founder of Escape Adulthood

Stressed? Busy? Overwhelmed? If you’ve ever wanted to resign from adulthood, you may be struggling with a case of Adultitis™. Make your escape! Our passion and energy levels are regularly depleted by Adultitis and the burden of increased responsibilities and the need to do more with less. Jason shares how recapturing wisdom from childhood can help you reignite your passion, turn stress into laughter, and get more done while having more fun. Jason provides witty observations, humorous anecdotes and real-world techniques that will entertain and inspire you to live a richer, more balanced life.



Early registration deadline is October 8. Register early and save!

Association Executives, Association Staff, Consultants

Early Late
Members (1st registration)
$350 $395
Members (2nd registration +)*
$295 $340
Student member $95 $125
Non-members $450 $495
*Special rates are available for associations that register multiple staff. Please contact WSAE staff to receive your multiple registrant discount. 

Industry Partners (includes tabletop exhibit)

Early Late
$450 $495
Non-members* $550 $595
Additional exhibitor** $125 $155

*Non-member registration fee includes WSAE membership through 12/31/2017. 

**Industry partners may include additional exhibitor registrants at the rate of $125 per person. Please contact WSAE to add additional registrants from your organization.

Confirmed registrations must be canceled in writing by Monday, October 16 to receive a full refund, less a $50 cancellation charge. No refunds shall be made for cancellations after October 16. Substitutions are allowed.


The Summit will be held at the Madison Marriott West. Sleeping rooms are available – book online or call the hotel at 1-888-745-2032 to make your reservation. Be sure to mention you are with WSAE to receive the discounted rate of $129/night before Sunday, October 8, 2017. 

Madison Marriott West
1313 John Q Hammons Dr
Middleton, WI 53562


Industry Partner Expo
The Summit will provide 2 hours of exhibit time on Monday, October. 30. Reserve your booth during the online Summit registration process or learn more about the Expo.


In addition to the Expo, there are sponsor packages available for additional exposure at the Summit. You can view the opportunities here — we appreciate your support!


Thank you to our 2017 Sponsors! 


 Community Outreach

The beneficiary of our community outreach donation for this year's Summit is Gilda’s Club Madison. Gilda's Club creates a community of free emotional support, cancer education, and hope for children and adults with any cancer diagnosis and those who care for them. They currently serve more than 3,000 members. 

Join us on Monday, October 30 from 4:00-5:00 pm for a hands-on project to support Gilda's Club!