My Association Story

Thursday, May 31, 2012
Carol Montoya, CAE

As I was collecting the text for this issue of PMR Tidings, I realized that we are celebrating our 12th anniversary with our first association management client, the DC Ad Club. To commemorate that milestone, I want to share with you why the DC Ad Club is so much more than our first client; it’s the reason PMR exists today. And it’s the perfect example of why professionals should get involved with their industry associations at the start of their career and should stay involved and take advantage of the opportunities associations offer.

My first job was with a communications firm in Washington, DC. Our clients were government agencies; we provided communications and creative services and market research for public service campaigns. One day, I read an article that gave five tips for winning awards; one of the tips was to get involved with the award committee; learn about the process from the inside. So I contacted the DC Ad Club and volunteered for the ADDY committee. To give a warp speed synopsis of what happened next (because this month we have a long newsletter): I was a good volunteer; I was invited to serve on the Board; I was elected to Secretary of the Board; I developed relationships with two people who would change the course of my career: Jim Learned, who was Second Vice President, and Noelle McGlynn, who was First Vice President. And then...Jim introduced me to his brother, for whom I eventually went to work. When I decided to move on, I reached out to my DC Ad Club contacts, including Noelle and Sherry Marshall, the owner of the club’s management company. I was “consulting” (e.g., taking as many hours of work as I could from whomever would give them to me), including with Noelle at Potomac Event Productions and Sherry at Marshall & Company. One day Sherry told me she was retiring and encouraged Noelle and I to bid on the DC Ad Club contract, given our experience with the club and background in event planning. The leadership of the club believed in us and awarded us our first association management account. I started to work full time for Potomac Event Productions and we soon added other associations; changing the company name a few years later to Potomac Management Resources, reflecting a broader focus than just event planning.

I sometimes wonder what I would be doing today if I hadn’t volunteered with the DC Ad Club. That initial contact with my industry association set me on a path that has been full of opportunities and challenges, and very rewarding, both personally and professionally.

Take a moment to think about how your involvement with your association has affected your life. Or how the time you spend making your association relevant to others in your industry positively affects them. I’d love to hear YOUR association story. Share it with us on our Facebook page, or drop me an email.

Carol Montoya, CAE

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