Board Chair Message

A message from Brian Buff, ESSAE Chair of the Board (2019)

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59), a French diplomat, political scientist and historian, traveled extensively throughout the United States, and wrote Democracy in America based on his observations and experiences.

One of de Tocqueville’s major discoveries about America was how great things were achieved in this land—and he attributes this to “art of joining” in voluntary associations: “I encountered sorts of associations of which, I confess, I had no idea, and I often admired the infinite art with which the inhabitants of the United States managed to fix a common goal to the efforts of the many.”

He goes on to say:

“Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have
commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand
other kinds: religious, moral, very general and very particular, immense and very small;
Americans use associations to give fêtes, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books;
in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools. If it is a question of bringing to light a 
truth or developing a sentiment with the support of a great example, they associate.”
[Emphasis above added.]

Many of the associations de Tocqueville witnessed were based right here in New York State.

And today, 188 years later, the same spirit, energy and expertise that de Tocqueville found in those associations can be found throughout the state and in the membership of the Empire State Society of Association Executives! 

New York State associations make an incredible impact on life:  

  • They create jobs.
  • They are leaders in professional and workforce development.
  • They are a significant part of the meetings industry—hosting a wide range of conventions, conferences, meetings and seminars.
  • They enrich communities and create positive change.
  • They bring deep wells of expertise and knowledge—helping New York State to be a leader in the nation and enhance the collective quality of life in the Empire State.     

New York State membership associations bring in over $11 billion in annual revenue and we rank 2nd in the highest membership organization employment in the nation (California ranks first). 

Ours is a noble profession of service. We help dedicated groups of volunteers (leaders and members who choose to be part of a group)—to achieve their goals and dreams. I posit that association professionals—and our allied suppliers—give 110% as a constant.  There’s always a deadline…and we’re always striving…to bring professionalism, best practices and the deliverables to life.  And if there’s one thing we all have in common—it’s this—there never seems to be enough time. 

And that’s why there’s ESSAE—and that’s why the Society needs you!  

By being involved in ESSAE and taking advantage of our services, our members become better professionals and increase their marketability and earning potential. Our members help mold and drive their associations to success.  Being involved in ESSAE helps you find better deals for your associations through our vendor partners. I invite you to learn more about ESSAE and all that our Society offers by exploring this website and attending one of our many programs and offerings. 

2019 marks the Society's 40th Anniversary. We are going to use the entire year to commemorate our successes and look to a bright future. Check out our renewed history and 40th Anniversary pages on the website and watch as we add more fun facts and stories. 

Get involved, serve the Society, be a resource and learn more that you can bring back to your work. It’s some of the best professional development that you can get!  Help us help you. 

I want to thank my predecessor Kelly Garceau for her leadership and guidance, our entire Board of Directors, Committee leaders and members—and our incredible staff—Executive Director Vanessa LaClair and Membership & Event Coordinator Amy Colvin.

And, most of all, thank you, our members—for your support, belief and dedication to ESSAE.  

Together we will grow ESSAE and our profession!    

Here’s to a great 2019 for ESSAE!  Here’s to all of you! 

Thank you. 


Brian Buff
Vice President

Association Management Operations
Capitol Hill Management Services, Inc.