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Meet our new Executive Director



Catherine Whitmore the recently appointed Executive Director of the Institute of Association Leadership was recently interviewed for the first edition of the new IAL newsletter DIALogue.


Cathy, tell us a bit about yourself

I have a long history in recruitment and HR within the broad not-for-profit sector. For many years I worked at a charity recruitment agency in executive search and selection as well as running external projects recruiting non-executive board members and trustees. Following children and a move to Suffolk, I developed my career through consultancy and voluntary work. Through my own business I continued to work with various not-for-profit clients on HR and CSR projects. I have also held positions on the boards of Kids’City, Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations and I was a Governor at my children’s school. In my spare time, between ferrying my children to various activities, I’m Child Welfare Officer at my local cricket club and, much to my surprise and that of my husband, Captain of the Ladies 2nd 11. It’s been a mixed season, but we’ve had a lot of fun!


What’s your vision for the future of the IAL and the sector?

The board and I would like to see the association sector become much more confident of its own identity over the next few years. It’s a vibrant, interesting and diverse sector and we would like to see it become a place where talented people want to actively develop their careers.


Although definitive figures are hard to come by we work in a sector with up to about 5,000 membership organisations, representing about 6 million professionals. That’s huge!


Obviously, we are going to be facing a lot of challenges over the next few years: economic uncertainty following 31st October; the impact of AI on the working environment and the knock-on effect to the professions; and the continued conundrum of attracting and retaining members. To name a few.


What can we expect to see from IAL over the next few months?

My first few months at IAL have seen a lot of changes, most notably the name change to the

Institute of Leadership, better reflecting the membership. The language of business has changed a lot over the last few years and our members see themselves much more as leaders rather than managers. When you are looking to attract new members this sort of perception is important. The change in name has led to a change in branding, a new website and a larger presence on social media. In addition, IAL had a strong presence at memcom. We’ve also welcomed some new Board members at the last AGM and you will be learning more about them in the next edition of DIALogue.


After all that activity, we have exciting plans for the next few months. Alongside our well-attended CEO Forum, we will be rolling out our Learning Events. The first one is scheduled for 22nd October entitled “Finance for the non - Finance Expert” (more information here). We will be putting on one Learning Event every month covering issues that you have told us are important to you and your organisations. You can see a full programme by visiting our website, www.ial.org.uk/events.


IAL will also be working with memcom and CIPD to carry out some research and develop best practice with regards to our sector’s Diversity and Inclusion work. We’ll soon be calling on you to get involved and give us your insights on your organisations. We are also already gearing up for next years Associations Week which will be taking place week commencing 1st June 2020. As we get nearer to the date we will be contacting members about what they can do to celebrate our sector and more information can be found at www.associationsweek.org.uk.


Why should anyone join IAL?

Aside from all the above? IAL Is for all leaders and aspiring leaders in the professional membership sector. It’s for people who want to share their experience and support others. It’s for people who want to learn. IAL offers membership professionals the opportunity to network with their peers, to attend learning events and contribute to research and campaigns. More information can be found here, www.ial.org.uk/membership.



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Contact Us

Catherine Whitmore

Executive Director

Institute of Association Leadership
91 Wimpole Street
London W1G 0EF

Email: catherine@ial.org.uk

Phone: 07860 410 029

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