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Mary Kate Cunningham ASAE
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ASAE Promotes Mary Kate Cunningham

The American Society of Association Executives has promoted Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, to senior VP of public policy to reinforce its commitment to strong, effective advocacy on behalf of the association community.

Cunningham, who took the reins of ASAE’s public policy department in 2018, has cultivated a skilled, results-oriented advocacy team; produced bipartisan support for association issues on Capitol Hill; and further developed a robust grassroots network of association supporters to amplify ASAE’s policy messaging at the federal and state levels.

“ASAE’s work on COVID relief for associations is far from finished but we have effectively gained ground in building support for our policy asks on both sides of the aisle and elevated awareness of the association community’s struggle, as well as the economic consequences if Congress does not turn vocal support into action on our behalf,” says ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE. “Mary Kate is a shrewd strategist and a relentless champion of ASAE and association interests, and has proven her ability to leverage every resource at her disposal to advance our legislative and regulatory priorities.”

“I am proud of what ASAE and our public policy team has been able to do in the last six months on behalf of the association community,” Cunningham says. “Susan’s leadership has provided ASAE with the focus and determination to work for our members. I am so thankful to the ASAE public policy team: Chris Vest, Jeff Evans and Nate Fisher, for their work. We are committed to advocating on behalf of associations on issues they care about.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted societal and business operations in March, Cunningham and the ASAE policy team have been immersed in efforts to obtain federal relief for Section 501(c)(6) organizations and other types of tax-exempt organizations struggling financially during the crisis. ASAE is urging Congress to expand access to the Paycheck Protection Program to include 501(c)(6) entities, and advance legislation to establish a system of shared public and private compensation for business interruption losses and event cancellations resulting from future pandemics or public health emergencies.

Though COVID-19 relief for associations has been the top priority for Cunningham and the public policy team since March, ASAE has also been active on other issues, including:

  • Defending voluntary professional certification programs run by associations;
  • Providing incentives to workers who have been laid-off or furloughed to pursue post-secondary skills training offered by associations;
  • Successfully opposing the sale of the .ORG registry to a private equity firm; and
  • Working to enhance the future viability of association-run health plans, among others.

Cunningham has also helped raise awareness of ASAE and associations in the media and through The Power of A campaign.

Prior to joining ASAE, Cunningham worked in Congress at the House Armed Services Committee and for the Federation of American Scientists. She serves as a member of the Tax Coalition and the American Ireland Funds Young Leaders Society. In 2019, she was named a Leading Association Lobbyist by Association TRENDS, and in 2013 she received the “Up and Coming Practitioner” award from the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference.

ASAE is a membership organization of more than 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Since it was established 100 years ago, its members have and continue to lead, manage and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. With the support of the ASAE Research Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession and provides resources, education, ideas and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. For more info, visit asaecenter.org.

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