Gabriel Eckert, executive director of the Building Owners and Managers Associations of Georgia, said: "The experience expanded my knowledge of how international nonprofits operate. It helped me to expand my network and build friendships.
"One thing I found fascinating is the commonality of interests. Whether you're in the US, Germany, or Belgium, we're all concerned with member engagement, finance issues, and best practices."
Eckert says the fact that he runs a state association didn't make the study mission any less meaningful for him. "If a CEO is looking for new ideas, you have to find new experiences. The study mission was a way to think completely outside of the box."
During the nine-day trip, attendees learned about the cultural, economic, and social dynamics of each country by meeting with government officials, European Union policymakers and the heads of many Berlin- and Brussels-based associations.
The mission included a visit to the German Society for Association Management—the German equivalent of ASAE—where attendees met with board members and leadership to learn how they are working to "professionalise" the association management profession.
In Brussels, attendees met executives from the Union of International Associations and the Federation of European and International Associations, which was established in Belgium.
The mission also included two half-day sessions called 'Meeting of the Minds', during which US executives were matched with their counterparts in Brussels and Berlin. Together, they shared insights about their organisations' industries, scopes, and missions.
This mission was supported by two partners: the Canadian Tourism Commission and PCO MCI.