Save the Associations | Membership According to Generation Z

Membership According to Gen Z

How Associations are Engaging Future Members, Leaders and Advocates

Generation Z was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment. That has all changed now, as COVID-19 has reshaped the country’s social, political, and economic landscape. On the cusp of adulthood, students and young adults are now facing an uncertain future.

Nevertheless, this generation is powerful.

They may be young, but Generation Z has rocked the world with their activism around racial injustice, gun control, immigration reform, and climate change. Hundreds of thousands of young people have participated in protests—like no generation before—in their call for transformative and urgent change. They are tackling global-scale challenges head on, and their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years as more of them reach voting age.

What does the arrival of Gen Z mean for the future of associations, and what do associations need to do to engage them?

This summit will explore the many ways associations are innovating to keep students involved in a time of pandemic. Learn best practices from associations on the front line of student membership outreach, recruitment, and retention. This summit’s line-up includes young association leaders and experienced leaders, all with an impressive track record for next-gen engagement.

Gain valuable insight into how younger generations engage with and learn about the world around them, what inspires them, how they advocate, and what they expect from a membership in your association.

Speakers & Topics

Anna Mahalak

Anna Mahalak
Youth Engagement Manager
United Nations Association of the United States

Best Practices in Youth Engagement

In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt walked into the United Nation Association of the USA office and offered to build the association’s national membership. Today, the association boasts 20,000 members and more than 200 chapters across the country.

With 60% of its membership under the age of 26, the association knows what it takes to engage younger generations. Discover best practices in youth engagement and membership retention during a time of crisis.

How to Increase Student Membership and Advocacy

When the pandemic hit, community-building among student chapters and student-led associations shifted dramatically. Not only did students lose their connection to classroom education, they also lost their connections to peers, prospective employers, internships, and job training via associations.

Student-led associations and associations with extensive student chapter programs are working diligently to find new ways to engage with and help young members. Learn more about what they’re creating, what they predict the future will bring, and their advice for what associations need to do now to keep student members engaged.


Jamie Scates

Jamie Thayer Scates, CEO
American Medical
Student Association

Leslie Payne
Leslie Payne
Director of Student and Younger Member Programs
American Society of
Civil Engineers
Sarah Weber
Sarah Weber
Director of Workforce Development
National Association of Home Builders
Ben Brown

Ben Brown
Founder and CEO
Association of Young Americans

The Future of Associations and Advocacy

Inspired by the belief that young people can solve the greatest problems of our time, Ben Brown started the Association of Young Americans, a non-partisan membership-based organization lobbying to “insert the voices of the 80 million Americans ages 18 to 35 into everyday politics”.

With a presidential election rapidly approaching amidst a pandemic and unprecedented conflict and racial unrest, how are young Americans using their voices to influence change? In this interview, Ben shares valuable insights and predictions about member engagement, advocacy, and the future of associations.

Engaging Students as Leaders and Members

The National Student Council and National Honor Society are two student organizations housed under the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The Ohio Society of CPAs has a robust student outreach effort and is one of few associations to both offer a high school membership and host career events targeted toward high school students. 

In their own unique ways, each of these organizations focus on leadership, professional development, and community-building – deliverables which have become increasingly difficult in the midst of pandemic. 

Discover what NASSP and OSCPA are doing to maintain programs and services for high school students and sustain their outreach during a time of unprecedented disruption. In addition, gain an insider's perspective into the emerging workforce's values and behaviors -- how they lead and volunteer, how to engage their participation, and why their leadership has the potential to disrupt and influence change unlike any other generation that has come before them.


Nara Lee
Nara Lee
Director, Student Leadership
National Honor Society and National Student Council
National Association of Secondary School Principals
Scott Wiley
Scott Wiley, CAE
President and CEO
Ohio Society of CPAs

Meet Your Host

The show is hosted by Sarah Sladek, a renowned membership growth strategist and futurist who has authored three books for ASAE and consulted with associations globally on cultivating the culture, processes, and value proposition needed to engage the next generation of members and remain competitive and relevant in a changing marketplace.


Save the Associations Webshow

This is a web show featuring interviews with association leaders who areleading and inspiring change initiatives to better serve their members. Research indicates the majority of associations have been observingflat or declining membership for the past decade. Yet, in this era of unprecedented disruption, there are association leaders who have risen to theoccasion, making radical changes to ‘save’ their associations from decline. 

These are their stories of success.