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‘Transformative’ association leader, John Graham, dies, aged 70

John Graham, the president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), has died, aged 70, following an extended battle with cancer.

In a statement, the organisation said: “While no words can adequately express our deep sorrow at losing our leader, the ASAE team is profoundly grateful for the opportunity to know and work with John. He was a transformative leader for ASAE and a mentor to many in the association community.

“During his tenure, which began August 1, 2003, ASAE more than doubled its membership and developed a wealth of innovative products and services to benefit association professionals and their partners. Graham leaves behind an organization marking its centennial in 2020, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of ASAE’s work moving forward.”

In his acceptance of the 2013 Association TRENDS’ ‘Association Executive of the Year’ award, Graham touched on why he found association management such a personally rewarding profession.

“Whatever our personal journeys have been – however we came to embrace associations as our life’s work – we can take great pride in the advancement of this profession,” he said. “Our organizations comprise an incredibly innovative, vibrant and diverse sector, and we see innumerable examples every day of how associations effect positive change – not just for the industries or professions they serve, but for society at large. America is quite simply a better place to live and work because the association community is leading the way in areas like professional development and credentialing, standard setting, community assistance, research, and volunteerism.”

Before ASAE, Graham served the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 24 years, the last 13 as CEO. Under his stewardship, ADA merged 53 affiliate organisations into one and revenues quadrupled from $50m to $200m. Previously Graham had served the Boy Scouts of America for nine years. He served on the Association Committee of 100, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; as chairman of the Mobile Giving Foundation Board of Directors; on the Board of Directors of the Lambda Chi Alpha Foundation; and as President of the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.

The Graham family will hold a private service in Pennsylvania and a memorial service in Washington, DC, will follow. With Graham’s passing, the ASAE Board has announced that Susan Robertson, CAE, will continue to serve as interim president and CEO of ASAE.