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Dear NYSAE Members and Friends,

We just completed NYSAE’s Annual Business Meeting, the first virtual membership meeting in over 100 years! Thank you to everyone who attended. I know this was a busy time for all of us.

What an eventful year, to say the least. As most of you know, last summer, as I transitioned into the Chairman’s role, our headquarters transitioned too. After months of extensive meetings, interviews, conference calls and more meetings, the NYSAE Board made the decision to move to Kellen, a global association management and communications company. Long-time member Holly Koenig, Senior Vice President of Kellen, was named our Executive Director and CEO. At that time, there was a lot of excitement, energy and meaningful exchange as the Board, committee leadership and staff worked closely together on the new strategic plan. Here were some of our priorities and deliverables:

  • NYSAE would rebrand and reposition itself as THE credible resource to our association community and begin on our new path of engagement, broadening communications, collaboration, alliances and growth.
  • NYSAE would invest in an association management software system, build its database, develop key performance indicators, and establish best practices, data transparency and new policies. Along with that, we agreed to a full review of our bylaws.
  • Deliver the value proposition. Innovative and cutting edge programming and new membership benefits in order to serve and respond to our member needs now and into the future.

The committees moved swiftly delivering on all points and then, earlier this year our world changed when the COVID-19 crisis hit. As leaders of associations, hospitality companies and other businesses, we reacted quickly as we were compelled to change so many aspects of how we work.  Many of us began to work from home, shifting our plans, budgets, and events and, to this day, we continue to do so.

As challenging as this year has become for all of us, affecting our personal and professional lives, it has made many of us realize that this is what associations are all about, and why we have chosen to be leaders in this community. The ongoing crisis has taught us how to adapt, how to be flexible and resilient, and how to be better leaders. Our communities look to us for reaction, statements, support and strategic advice.

NYSAE is no different. Together we are more effective. This has been our time to shine and we have. I am so very proud of our leadership, our staff, our volunteers and our members and friends who have helped us to achieve our annual goals and who have heavily engaged and supported NYSAE during these last few months.

Through it all, we have adjusted our focus and brought renewed strength and enthusiasm back to our organization. Although we are not yet out of this challenging time, I greatly appreciate your dedication to NYSAE and for continuing to make NYSAE one of the most powerful organizations in the tri state area.

My sincerest appreciation and gratitude to the NYSAE officers, executive committee, board and committee chairs. You have all remained focused on the mission of NYSAE throughout these uncertain times. It has been a great honor to have served as your Chairman during this past year.  With the help of so many generous and dedicated individuals and companies, I feel we have made great strides in fostering a closer knit community and creating a re-energized organization.  I have no doubt that NYSAE’s best days are still ahead of us. I wish Joanne Barry the best of luck as she steps into the role of Chair as of July 1st.

All best,


Charles Riotto, Chairman Emeritus, Licensing International


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