ASAE Leader John Graham Mourned

Longtime president and CEO of ASAE/The Center for Association Leadership, John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, has died.

The Washington, D.C.-based association, which will mark its centennial this year, released a statement Jan. 13, 2020 that Graham died the previous day “after an extended battle with cancer.”

Graham took a leave of absence in June. Executive Vice President Susan Robertson, CAE, was appointed interim president & CEO at the time. She will continue to serve in that role.

A private family service will be held in Pennsylvania and a memorial service in Washington, D.C., will follow.

Graham led ASAE since Aug. 1, 2003 after 24 years at the American Diabetes Association (ADA). He served as CEO during his last 13 years at ADA, reorganizing it from 53 independent, separately incorporated affiliates into one national organization. During his tenure, ADA quadrupled in size, from $50 million to $200 in annual revenues.

“While no words can adequately express our deep sorrow at losing our leader, the ASAE team is profoundly grateful for the opportunity to know and work with John. Graham was a transformative leader for ASAE and a mentor to many in the association community,” according to the statement from ASAE.

During Graham’s tenure, ASAE more than doubled membership and developed products and services to benefit association professionals and their partners.

“He was an inspiring leader in both the nonprofit, charitable sector – and the association world. He was a great supporter of our work to bring young leaders into the sector and was always welcoming with young staffers in the sector,” said Neal Denton, CAE, senior vice president, chief government affairs officer at YMCA of the USA. “I will miss his smile and that calming leadership style of his that helped to shape the ASAE.”

“Those of us in the retail industry are heartbroken at the loss of this great leader, who devoted his unparalleled expertise and decades of experience to causes ranging from diabetes to the Boy Scouts to charitable fundraising,” National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “I had the privilege of working with John, and he was a great friend, mentor and supporter. He was a constant cheerleader for me like he was for so many others,” he said.

“There was no one more passionately dedicated to the association world and nonprofit community,” Shay said. “He embodied the very best of what it means to be a service leader and will be deeply missed by all of us who knew him.” Shay worked closely with Graham while chairman of ASAE’s board from 2017 to 2018 and also as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

Prior to his time at ADA, Graham was with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for nine years. In 2015, he was recognized by BSA as a Distinguished Eagle Scout. He served on the Association Committee of 100, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mobile Giving Foundation (MGF); president of the National Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts of America; and on the board of Directors of the Lambda Chi Alpha Foundation.

Graham was routinely among The NonProfit Times’ annual Power & Influence Top 50, having been recognized in each of the past 17 years.