SURGE Ignite

Schedule of Events

June 7

June 8

June 9

Day 1:  June 7

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

The Seismic Shift in Leadership: How to Thrive in a New Era of Connection

Dr. Johnston will explore the seismic shift in leadership she has witnessed as an executive coach; specifically, that command-and-control, authoritarian styles of leadership are no longer effective. A leader's new power lies in his or her ability to meaningfully connect with their people.

Drawing on her 20 years of coaching experience and lessons learned from 18 prominent leaders whom she interviewed for her book, The Seismic Shift in Leadership, Dr. Johnston shares examples of leaders who successfully engage at three levels of connection:

Connection with yourself
Connection with your team, and
Connection with your organization

Attendees will walk away with tangible, actionable strategies to meaningfully connect so they can attract, engage, and retain their employees in this challenging hybrid work environment.

Dr. Michelle K Johnston

Professor and Leadership Coach

Loyola University

10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Finding Middle Ground: Meeting Your Members Where They Are

Association events have unique needs and leveraging the right event technology and its data can allow the professionals to create staff efficiencies, boost non-dues revenue and sponsor/supplier ROI, and retain and engage members, no matter where they are located. During this session, our technology and association experts will talk about:

Facing the challenges: Although virtual fatigue is prominent, and sponsors and exhibitors are ready for face-to-face interactions, there are still misconceptions of the value and reach digital opportunities bring.

Diving into a new reality: The polarization of a face-to-face versus a virtual event is evident, and a hybrid event format often brings a fear of added costs and inconvenience for planners.

Moving forward: Event technologies offer fast, easily accessible data that helps associations strategically plan and meet the needs of their members.

Sandra Lee

Business Development Manager


11 am – 12 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Create a Learning Strategy for Career Value and Non-Dues Revenue

Adult learners are more selective of learning experiences and making decisions on where/when to attend in-person and online programs. Information is pervasive and new content must be searchable 24/7/365. Professional associations face new challenges and competition to maintain their primary provider position in the continuing professional development marketplace. Join Dr. Petrillo to assess how associations, vendors and venues can partner to provide new, creative options within a directed learning strategy design. Join this lightning-round luncheon to explore what is necessary to build value and revenue. Topics will include: program formats, tech considerations, new business models, research, competency-based education, micro-credentialing, text teaching and digital badging.

Tracy Petrillo

Chief Learning Officer


Host: Jennifer Neydon

Educational Content Producer


12:15 pm – 12:45 pm (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

How Thoughtful Nonprofits Create Great Cultures

This panel will explore how unique nonprofit organizations and association management firms implement and advance thoughtful workplace cultures. The panelists will discuss how COVID is evolving the workplace and how their organizations are actively advancing and living core values and culture priorities to ensure a collaborative and healthy workplace.

Amy Lestition Burke

Vice President, Industry Solution

Consumer Brands Association

Barry Moline

Executive Director

California Municipal Utilities Association

Sarah White

Senior VP of Financial Operations

Affinity Strategies

Elizabeth Schumacher

Co-Founder and CEO

Affinity Strategies

Louise Gorringe

Director of Association Management Operations

Kenes Group

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

Day 2:  June 8

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Competing in the New World of Work

Based on his Wall Street Journal bestselling book Competing in the New World of Work, Kian will present how every organization can create a successful hybrid workplace for the future of work. With vivid storytelling developed from a 2-year research project with Harvard Business School and interviews with 2000 executives from around the world, Kian will reveal key leadership traits, team behaviors and organizational attributes needed in this new hybrid world of work and explain the "Six Myths” each organization must dispel to successfully compete and win the war for talent in the Great Resignation. Finally, Kian will explain how to learn the key "Highest Return Practices" needed for this new era of hybrid work: from collaboration and inclusion, to agility, resilience, and foresight.

Kian Gohar



10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Influence is Your Superpower

You were born influential, a natural at persuading others to take care of you. But then you were taught to suppress that power, follow the rules, wait your turn, and not make waves. But influence is the secret sauce that brings great ideas to life and makes people want to say yes to you. Used intelligently, it's like a superpower that can make good things happen. And Zoe will help you develop that power. She's a Harvard-trained behavioral scientist who draws on groundbreaking research in behavioral economics, neuroscience, and psychology. And she'll show you how to effect change that's meaningful, durable, and contagious

Zoe Chance

Senior Lecturer

Yale School of Management

11 am – 11:30 pm (CT)


This virtual networking opportunity will take place in Airmeet's lounge area and organized by topic of interest.

11:45 am – 12:45 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

The Workforce is a Buyer's Market and The Great DEI Workforce Redesign

The "great resignation" is a brilliant phrase to use if you're seeking to dodge accountability. Adults in the USA are projected to spend 60% of our prime adult lives at work, and substantial segment of these working adults are feeling empowered to calculate their personal ROI for their perceived value at their current job. If a salary, healthcare and retirement benefits, and some rhetoric about a mission is all that our associations are offering our staff, that menu of items is offered at a host of other places. The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs tends to be met when you're a member of the senior/executive leadership team, however, what is the ROI for when you are at the Assistant to Director levels? It is a key organizational design factor that we have yet to prioritize into action. Now that we are forced to redesign or even recreate the early career professionals to middle management employee experience, which elements should be intentionally included? Empowerment, professional development, intentional diversity/equity/inclusion, genuine multilevel staff engagement? If you're ready to action on the employee ROI experience, this session is for you.

* Understand how the employee/volunteer experience and workforce design in a DEI issue, especially at the entry level to middle management levels
* Explore the different action steps through the lens of (1) culture, (2) hiring & retention, (3) member/volunteer engagement, and (4) disruptive new ideas

Danielle Duran Baron

Vice President, Marketing Communications

School Nutrition Association

Tamela Blalock

Vice President of Cooperative Relations

National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International

Juan Amador

Director, Constituent Engagement

Association of American Medical Colleges

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

Day 3:  June 9

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

SURGE Smackdown

The association industry is filled with divisive topics, and now is the chance to battle it out on stage at SURGE Explore! Gone are the days of tame discussions and boring zoom calls – this exciting debate will pit our attendees against one another as they “duke it out” over some of the hottest topics in the association space.
At the start of each battle, our emcee will introduce our “fighters,” along with the topic. Each fighter will be given a minute for opening arguments, 30 seconds to answer a question from our emcee and another 30 seconds for closing arguments.
The objective?
Make your best case, tackle questions and earn votes from your fellow attendees. The winners will be announced on the spot – earning you bragging rights and a donation to a nonprofit of your choice.

10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Hyper-personalize to "The Market of One"

Each person, member or not, has their own set of needs that you're trying to meet. Traditional marketing has us speaking to segments based on behaviors and transactions. And often traditional broadcasts are about what the association has to offer rather than what it is the member actually needs right then and there. Rather than building campaigns around selling something to a segment, focusing on "The Market of One" allows us to connect at the individual level by asking questions regularly over time to understand and immediately act on their needs.

Dave Will speaks on how associations are using conversational engagement methods to connect with their members one-to-one, with questions rather than broadcasts, as well as driving renewals by understanding intent and awareness. See how associations use conversational engagement to talk to "The Market of One" to drive stronger engagement.

Dave Will

Co-Founder and CEO


11 am – 12 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Virtual Onboarding: Rebuilding the 90 Day Model

As organizations continue to add staffers in hybrid and fully remote capacities, the traditional onboarding process has quickly become outdated. Creating a healthy virtual onboarding plan means moving away from the 90-day model and creating a more holistic approach that ensures ongoing support and success for your team. Phoebe Gavin will dive into some of the issues facing organizations today, why they need to rethink their onboarding process, and what goes into creating a better and more sustainable process.

Phoebe Gavin

Executive Director of Talent and Development


Host: Jose Triana

Content Manager


12:15 pm – 12:45 pm (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

How to Cultivate Adaptability and Flexibility in Yourself and Others

Flexibility and adaptability are more than philosophies or concepts. These are skills that can be learned, taught, trained and coached. Employing these skills effectively results in greater support of members, advancement of an organization and ability to capitalize upon opportunities -- all in an effort to advance the mission of an organization.

Peggy McElgunn

President and CEO

Global Professional Services

Kurt Jensen

Vice President, Communications

Global Professional Services

Zachary McElgunn

Vice President, Education and Development

Global Professional Services

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

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