In addition to developing content specifically for your audience, Vista Cova Strategists can present on the following topics.

Networking Evolution: Building Stronger Relationships and Connections

Our associations may produce the highest quality programs, products and services, but what makes us different from any retail store is the community of colleagues any member can find. What we call networking is the cement that holds together the bricks of our non-dues revenue lines of value. Yet, for all associations tout as being the ‘professional home’ for their industry, this most often means putting volunteers and members alike in a room with wine and cheese with the instruction to ‘meet each other.’

Associations can do better.

Together we will explore how to deepen Board Member connections. How to create micro-brain trusts for volunteers, members, and industry stakeholders. How to create personal conversation starters for 5 or 5,000. We will learn about these approaches, we will try them, and we will analyze/evaluate them.
We all want to see a deeper loyalty to our organizations from our volunteers and our members - that starts with setting in place a dynamic of belonging and connection. This session will give you those first steps, providing you with new perspectives on how to create a networking evolution.

**Note – according to request from clients as one of the highest rated sessions they have had, there are now two versions of this session – an intro for the first time at an organization, and a second version for a return engagement.

Member Retention: Creating the Member Experience

The decision to remain a member comes down to more than the quality of the product or program purchased – it is about the experience that surrounds the interaction. The value opportunities you create for your member should be expressed not as a list on a brochure, but as targeted solutions that can help them wherever they may be in their career. This session will challenge you to think about new approaches to create an experience that will deepen the connection with (and increase the retention rate of) your members.

7 Steps to Building Organizational Resilience

As organizations face ever-increasing disruption, engaging in an ongoing process of organizational structure and strategy strengthening helps association thrive through adaptation and change. This session will review seven key areas where associations can turn their attention today, reinforcing where they excel in preparation for tomorrow. (See an article Vista Cova's CEO & Strategy Catalyst, Lowell Aplebaum wrote about topic.)

For the Love of....Please Not Another Webinar

Let's put it on the table - we know we need to provide virtual learning as a piece of value to members. We know that presentation/slide webinars where questions are submitted over a chat box and held to the end is the easiest way to do this.

We also know that many sign up, sign in, and then minimize the screen. Or sign up, attend, but because the passive reception of information does not fully engage the learning, find themselves struggling through an hour of content.

In many places around the web and the world, adults are finding meaningful learning experiences in different formats. Based on an article that has explored over 2 dozen websites that will make you smarter, come for a fast moving journey where we see how many virtual learning formats we can sample so you can go home and have a host of approaches that are better than....another webinar.

Strategic Planning: Best Practices and Next Practices

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any association – the strategic visionaries with industry insight, the subject matter experts training the future, the unpaid workforce giving back. Traditional models are no longer keeping pace with the evolving needs of our volunteers – associations need to consider new approaches to targeted volunteer segments, and the types of commitments they seek. This session will share five trends in the world of association volunteering that can help elevate the volunteer experience.

Volunteer Excellence – Creating Opportunities for Amazing Volunteer Experiences

Volunteers are the lifeblood of your organization. They are the strategic visionaries with industry insight, the subject matter experts training the future, and the unpaid workforce giving back to the organization. Traditional models of volunteer engagement are no longer keeping pace with the evolving needs of our volunteers. Organizations need to consider new approaches to engaging targeted volunteer groups with the types of commitments they seek. This session will share five trends in the world of volunteering will help you elevate your volunteer experiences.

Scoring Your Board of Directors: A Self-Assessment

As Board members are elected to and rotate off their term of service, we rarely take the opportunity to step back and reflect on the Board as a whole. This session will provide an assessment framework to help you evaluate the current health of your Board, better recognize where your strengths are serving you well, and identify opportunities for refinement and greater impact. Together we will explore such topics as communication approaches, focusing strategic input and dialogue, board development, and creating a connected Board culture.

Listening with Intent

Each of us have the ability to take our inherent senses and raise them to an advanced level – this session will explore how to elevate your ability to listen and connect with others. By reviewing (and experimenting with) how we inherently listen in an ever-increasingly noisy world, you will walk away with places to focus and approaches to apply. Learning where your own listening strengths shine, and where you can build new skills will improve the conversations and relationships you have at work everyday.

Chief Volunteer/Chief Staff Officer Dialogue

A significant factor in the impact our organizations can make is the dynamic between the chair volunteer and chief staff officers. Together we will review dynamics and trends shifting the association landscape, and give space to have the important ‘hallway conversation’ of how these teams are addressing these issues and opportunities within their own organizations.

Strategy Outside of the Plan

In a world where the biggest constant is change and disruption, organizations today need an approach to strategy that will:

  • Create space for leaders to co-create organizational vision before they start crafting a strategic plan
  • Build systems to identify environmental opportunities, challenges, and trends throughout the year rather than in an annual survey
  • Have a laser focus in serving core audiences, knowing their needs and creating best-fit aligned solutions
  • Identify which organizational investments are driving the organization and which are dragging in the pursuit of progress
  • Encourage innovation in value, programming, and experience by allocating resources to piloting new concepts each year 

This session which present a new approach to each of these five elements, creating learning experiences with practical applications that will incorporate strategy as part of an organization’s daily routine.

Innovation: Organizational Perceptions, Definitions, and Approach

To survive and thrive in an age of disruption, associations are focusing on gaining aptitude for innovation. This session will specifically focus on three key areas critical to adopting innovation.

  • Based on this HBR article on the "The Hard Truth about Innovative Cultures" participants will explore the qualities of organizational innovation that are typically lauded (e.g. safe to speak up, highly collaborative) as well as those that are not as often discussed (intolerance for incompetence, brutal candor) and what lessons could be applied at their organization.
  • To embrace a philosophy of innovation, all stakeholders need to be on the same page with what innovation actually means. Participants will explore varied definitions of innovation that exist in the market today and then craft possible definition(s) as they apply to the industry your association represents.
  • Attendees will receive a brief 2-3 question survey before the session where they can share idea of where innovation could make greatest impact. To close the session, a tactical innovation process will be presented and then pieces of it will be workshopped with some of the ideas submitted, giving learners a hands-on experience.

Tradeshow (R)evolution

Our association's tradeshows have great potential - to be a nexus of solution discovery and trend spotting, to be community hub for forming new professional relationships with those that will be a future partner for your organization, to be a steady source of value and revenue for the hosting association. We know that the same-old, same-old of aisles and 10x10 booths is no longer cutting it. We will lead you through an experience design methodology that taps into new models for what our tradeshows could be.

Meaningless Meaningful Words: Association Lingo

Engagement. Networking. Strategy and Strategic Planning. Innovation.

Within the association landscape, Boards, volunteers, and staff alike refer to terms of priority for the future success of their organization without defining what they mean by those terms. Let’s be honest – when you see ‘networking reception’ on an itinerary you roll your eyes – yet, you know that making new connections and relationships is a key value of belonging. When you are asked to participate in a “strategic planning” session, do you feel excitement? Yet, without vision and direction, how can an association work as a team, driving towards the same goals?

This session will explore what we may actually mean with these key buzzwords. In the session, run in workshop-style, there will be the chance for individual definition, reflection of what we mean from our colleagues, and the development of an overall approach to how an organization can create universal definitions so all stakeholders are on board with the intention, direction, and success measures for each of these terms.

" Lowell recently led a workshop on ‘Creating the Member Experience’ for ACG’s Chapter Executives. Besides bringing a deep expertise to the material, Lowell created an interactive learning model where the attendees were able to listen, create, and apply what he taught. He has the right dynamics to lead them as a group and help them 1:1 as well. Without hesitation, we would bring Lowell back to work with our volunteer leaders again."
Leslie Whittet, CAE Vice President, Chapter Operations - Association for Corporate Growth

Vista Cova Strategists

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE, IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator is an engaging keynote who will craft a session or sessions to engage and enlighten your audience. His years of experience with governance, leadership, operations, membership, and programmatic areas and a truly holistic focus on international, national, state, and local organizations enable him to build rapport with any audience. Lowell is also a featured author in ASAE's Component Relations Handbook: A Guide to Successfully Managing and Motivating Chapters, Affiliates, and other Member Groups.


Amy Hager, CAE, IOM is a strategic visionary leader with applied and proven expertise in marketing, communications outreach, and association relations. She has spoken to a variety of audience sizes at many organizations and conferences in the past decade. A former radio DJ, Hager has had the pleasure of being a presenter at ASAE Annual, Digital Now, The NiUG Annual Discovery Conference and The Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference, along with smaller, regional conferences and gatherings. In 2017 Hager received her Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives and Institute for Organizational Management (IOM) designation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Amy is a presenter who relates her experiences in the Association Industry to attendees and presents materials in an immersive way to engage participants. Amy is able to present on a variety of topics and conduct hands-on workshops for our clients.

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