Interview

Interview with Kay Whalen of EDI

Kay Whalen, President of Executive Director, Inc. (EDI), started in the association business like many others did: she just “fell into it”. Fresh out of college, Kay worked in the accounting department at EDI and today she’s an owner and the president of the company. Read more about Kay and EDI in our interview with her below.

Tell us a bit about EDI’s growth as an Association Management Company  (AMC).

When I started in 1986, I believe we had 5 clients and 30 staff members. Right now, we provide services to over 30 associations and we have over 200 staff.


What exactly does an AMC like EDI do?

John Graham from ASAE likes to say:  “Once you know one association, you know one association”. The same holds true for an AMC. Once you know one, you just know one, because every one is a bit different. But what an AMC does is provide staff for associations so that the associations don’t have to have their own. If you call our office, the receptionist will be answering our phones with the name of the association. The average member doesn’t know there’s a company behind the association. You almost have to be at the board level before you realize that. An AMC is the ultimate outsource. We do the accounting, we do the database, we do the websites. We do everything for an association all in one place.

What’s your marketing like?

EDI is in a very good place in that we don’t really have to market. We don’t want to grow too fast so we take what we think is reasonable. We look for those that are a good fit for us; we do the whole package unlike other AMCs that might provide outsourcing services.

Is the AMC Institute accreditation program important?

My business partner, David Bauman, was president of AMC Institute when they started the certification program, so I might be biased! EDI is accredited. It’s very important to the industry. Before the program started, there were more AMCs who weren’t doing some of the basics, like having the right kind of insurance. Now people know what’s expected of an AMC so they are able to strive to reach that even if they don’t go through the accreditation process.

Do you handle the technology needs of your customers or do you outsource?

As far as an Association Management System (AMS), we only use one and it is provided for all of our clients, although each client has their own database on that system.  We have been using the same one for over 20 years. Our staff is very knowledgeable on it so it’s what we use and will stick with.  For other technology platforms, we really have to find what’s best for our client and that can mean many different things.

What do you do for online education?

We don’t work with anyone in particular. We have some clients on a basic Moodle, some on YouTube and others on a more customized LMS. Our clients’ needs are so different that it wouldn’t make sense to have them all on one LMS.

Do you specialize in Medical Associations?

We made the strategic decision to focus on medical and scientific when I purchased the company. At that time we had trade associations as well as medical associations, but the databases are different for medical versus trade. The staff skill sets are different. The biggest difference is that with medical you typically have individual members, where in trade associations you have organizational members. And trade organizations rely on their staff more for the education work of the organization whereas scientific and medical rely on the members themselves. Medical and scientific association management is what EDI is known for these days.

Learn more about EDI here: https://www.execinc.com/

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