CEO Pathways and Compensation

What are common pathways for obtaining an association CEO position? What experiences were crucial during the development of current association leaders? How have compensation and benefits changed for chief executives in recent years, and what external factors affect their compensation?

The ASAE Foundation has produced three research briefs that examine these questions, with the support of Naylor Association Solutions, an ASAE Corporate Partner:

  • Pathways to CEO Success: How Experience, Learning, and Networks Shape Association CEO Careers
    This research brief examines the results from a survey exploring the different educational and professional experiences of association CEOs before they first obtained that role. More than 400 chief executives shared information on their paths and the experiences that advanced their careers. The report includes advice from CEOs to everyone who aspires to the position.

  • CEO Salary Dynamics: Changes in Association Chief Executive Base Salaries from 2012 to 2016
    This research brief looks at how factors like association type, size, location, and scope affect median base salary for chief executives and how those salaries have changed since 2012. Based on data from ASAE’s Association Compensation and Benefits Study, it also includes a look at changes for the 71 associations that completed the survey in 2012, 2014, and 2016.

  • CEO Benefits: Changes in Association Chief Executive Benefits Packages from 2012 to 2016
    This research brief is forthcoming. It uses data from ASAE’s Association Compensation and Benefits Study to illustrate changes in how associations provide non-salary-based compensation to their chief executives.

For more information about this research, email

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