2021 Connect Association 40 Under 40: Lindsey K. Nelson, CAE

Lindsey K. Nelson, CAE, is executive director of the Themed Entertainment Association. She is based in Chicago.

2021 Connect Association 40 Under 40: Lindsey K. Nelson, CAE

Lindsey K. Nelson, CAE, 37
Executive Director, Themed Entertainment Association
Chicago

What I do:
As the recently appointed executive director, my objectives are to achieve the association’s global growth initiatives and develop the right structure and systems to ensure the delivery of compelling products and services to our members around the globe.
 
How I got here:
I’ve spent the last 15 years working for associations in one form or fashion, starting at an association management company where I worked my way up the ranks, picking up new skills along the way. I then decided to work for a fundraising consultancy specializing in association fundraising, before going to work for a stand-alone trade association where I really refined my skills and got to put into practice what it really takes to be an association executive.
 
My greatest career accomplishment:
Raising $5 million in multiyear renewable donations in 18 months’ time for my association’s groundbreaking capital campaign and reaching my goal of becoming an association CEO by the age of 40
 
Impressive stats:
During my tenure at National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), I played a critical role in helping my organization achieve its strategic and programmatic goals and double the size of its annual operating budget ($4.5 million to $9 million) in five years’ time.
  
What I’m working on right now:
Currently, I am working on establishing a field office for TEA in Shanghai. Everything about this process has been a new learning experience for me, but I can feel myself growing because of it, and that excites me. I am also working on a business plan to bring some much-needed structure to TEA’s division/affiliate relationships, which are deeply rooted in tradition and volunteer passion, but also dysfunction. If we can figure out how to structure these relationships properly now, they will serve as the association’s springboard to growth in the future.