Revamping the TSAE Awards Program: Celebrating Excellence in Texas Associations

revamping the tsae awards program


For many years, the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE) has held its Awards Program as a central feature of its New Ideas Annual Conference. This program has been a cherished tradition, recognizing outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the association industry. However, in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, TSAE began to reevaluate and revamp this important initiative, aiming to innovate and expand its scope.

Recognizing Organizations, Not Just Individuals

While TSAE boasts a wealth of talented individuals who continually excel in their roles within their respective organizations and industries, the leadership realized that there was a broader story to tell. Many TSAE member organizations are engaged in groundbreaking and innovative projects and initiatives that often go unnoticed by the wider community. Thus, the decision was made to shift the focus of the Awards Program from solely recognizing individuals to also honoring the remarkable work being done by the organizations they represent.

A Shift in Perspective

The decision to revamp the Awards Program was not taken lightly, as it held a special place in the hearts of both members and staff. The phrase “you can change many things, but don’t touch the Awards Luncheon” was a common refrain. However, TSAE dared to make some changes, guided by the desire to celebrate not just individual achievements but also the collective success of member organizations.

A Post-COVID Priority

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for TSAE to adapt and evolve its offerings to better reflect the changing landscape of the association industry. Celebrating successes, both individual and organizational, became a top priority as the industry grappled with unprecedented challenges. It was evident that the Awards Program needed a fresh perspective to continue serving its purpose effectively.

Member Involvement in Reimagination

TSAE firmly believed that its members should play a significant role in reshaping the Awards Program. A diverse group of members, representing various membership categories, including many former award recipients, was convened to contribute their insights and perspectives. Their valuable input would be instrumental in the transformation of this longstanding program.

Learning from Sister Organizations

To inform the redesign of the TSAE Awards Program, the organization looked to its sister associations for inspiration and guidance. By examining the policies, procedures, and selection criteria of similar awards programs, TSAE gathered valuable insights. Some programs had too many categories for a luncheon event, while others had too few. These observations helped TSAE to better understand what would work best for our unique program.

Identifying Key Categories

With input from members and insights from sister organizations, TSAE identified specific categories that deserved recognition within its membership. Two of the new categories that emerged as essential components of the revamped program are:

  1. Texas Association Impact Award: This award showcases the remarkable work of TSAE member organizations, highlighting their contributions to the industries they serve. It emphasizes the role these associations play in shaping the success of their respective sectors.
  2. Rising Lone Stars: TSAE recognized the importance of honoring individuals in their early career stages but clearly identified association management as their career of choice. Honoring not just one but several individuals who have already shown commitment not only to their own organizations but to the association industry as a whole.


The TSAE Awards Program has undergone a thoughtful and necessary transformation. By expanding its focus to recognize both individuals and organizations, TSAE is poised to celebrate a broader spectrum of excellence within the association industry. This reimagined program reflects TSAE’s commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and the continued celebration of extraordinary individuals and organizations making significant contributions to the association space in Texas and beyond. As TSAE continues to evolve, it is well-positioned to inspire and uplift its members for years to come.

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