About Association Forum

Association Forum is the “Association of Associations” in Chicago.



About Association Forum

Association Forum is the hub for the large, yet close-knit Chicagoland association industry. We provide our members with resources, education and networking opportunities that enhance and elevate the association management profession, both on a personal and organizational level. We serve as a connecting point for association executives and professionals to meet and exchange ideas. As a future-focused organization, we have our finger on the pulse of the industry in order to help guide our members and assist them in solving the problems they face both today and tomorrow.  

What is an Association?

Founded in 1916, Association Forum has:

  • 2,500+ members.
  • These members represent more than 44,000 association professionals from nearly 1,600 Chicago organizations.
  • These organizations serve 27 million individual members, have 9 million donors and generate $10.3 billion annually in economic impact.

We’re an independent organization and incorporated under the Illinois Not-For-Profit Corporation Act and tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Membership at a Glance

Mission, Goals, & Promise


Our Mission

To advance the professional practice of association management.


Our Purpose and Major Goals

To be the definitive resource for learning opportunities that address the varied needs of association professionals as they advance in their association management careers, to provide an environment that engages the association community and industry partners and be recognized as the preeminent resource for tools and best practices in the field of association management.


Our Promise

To provide our members with essential learning, compelling experiences and powerful resources.



Core Values

Be A Welcoming Environment®

We are a Welcoming Environment® that actively seeks to enhance the larger community by recognizing the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  We will make everyone who interacts with us feel welcomed, represented, engaged, inspired, and empowered. 

Embrace Innovation and Quality

We love to try new ideas and seek inspiration from inside and outside the association community and value improvements big and small.  Experimenting with breakthroughs are encouraged and celebrated, however, we know when to pull the plug and to continuously improve.

Have Fun and Stay Positive

It’s a fact that you generally spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your own family. We strive to make our work environment one that is fun, positive and an overall great place to work. 

Open and Honest Communication and Teamwork

You don’t know what you don’t know!  Effective communication is key.  We shall cultivate an environment where we speak openly, honestly and with the goal of building a better team.  Candor is constructively embraced.  We will work collaboratively to deliver value to members.

Accountability – Own It

We hold each other accountable and expect people to respectfully ask questions and raise concerns.  Because work requires interdependent teams and collaboration, we will trust and depend on each other to be responsive, to deliver value, and quality services to stakeholders.

Win with Integrity

We operate ethically, contributing our time, talents and know-how to advance our communities where we work and live. We commit to growing our association in ways that benefit the environment and society. 

We’d like to get to know you and for you to get to know us.


Keep reading to learn more about:


Our Bylaws

If you’re a member, be sure to read our bylaws. Bylaws are the heart of our association governance and structure.

Our History

We are the first “association of associations”? It’s true! We were founded on September 28, 1916. Our Centennial Anniversary is September 28, 2016.

Our Committees

We have 15 member committees that govern everything from our Forum Forward and awards program to association governance.


Our Leadership

We’re governed by a 13 member board.

Our Staff

We have an eight member professional staff.

Our Members

We have nearly 4,000 members from more than 1,100 regional associations, non-profits and supplier partner companies.

Our Headquarters

Next to Washington, D.C., Chicago is the nation’s leading association headquarters city.




Our Public Policy Positions

As part of our mission, we focus action on legislative or regulatory matters affecting Chicagoland associations.

Our Foundation

The Association Forum Foundation is a separate 501(c)3 organization founded in 1987 in order to enhance our programs and services with new education, research and scholarship initiatives.

Make a Donation

How to Contact Us

Whether you have questions, comments or kudos, find out how to contact the Association Forum by phone, fax or email.