Skip to content
February 15, 2024

2024 Association Partner of the Year: Jay Younger


McKinley President and CEO Jay Younger was named the 2024 Association Partner of the Year by Association TRENDS and CEO Update! The award recognizes an individual in the corporate space who is considered a trusted advisor and champion of the association industry and actively involved in the community. 

During Jay’s twenty-five-plus years in the association industry, he has become widely known as an expert in strategic planning, governance, business analysis, facilitation and organizational development. He has a consistent track record of helping clients tackle challenging issues and arrive at unprecedented successes and is the beloved leader of the McKinley staff team. 

We sat down with Jay to dive into his leadership journey and his experience working with associations: 

Can you share insights into your leadership style and philosophy?

Younger: I will say that it has evolved over time. As someone who was often primarily responsible for individual work products earlier in my career, it took me some time to understand that what is required of me as a CEO differs from leading work for our clients. That was an adjustment that took me by surprise. At the core, my leadership philosophy involves a lot of listening, humility, and a commitment to my team. Of course, there are also times when you need to be out in front and a catalyst for change, but my most consistent thought as a leader is, “What can I do to help you be successful?”

Where do you derive your momentum and motivation?

Younger: I am a true believer in the impact associations make on the world, so it’s a never-ending reservoir of motivation. Our clients put us in contexts that require extraordinary amounts of trust. This includes everything from helping to implement high-impact change initiatives with their staff to leading strategic discussions with their boards and engaging with their memberships. This all brings the work that associations and their members do front and center for all of us at McKinley. We’re always looking for how to solve the next problem or pursue the next opportunity.

How do you proactively stay informed about industry changes and ensure association executives are well-prepared and ahead of emerging trends?

Younger: I spend a lot of time talking with our clients about what’s keeping them up at night and how they plan to adjust their approach. We also love data here at McKinley and are fortunate to have an expert research team that is always gathering market insight and intelligence from our sector.

Can you highlight any specific trends you foresee shaping the industry in the coming years?

Younger: In our recent survey the top trends that executives are expecting include workforce shifts, economic disruptions, sustainability commitments, digital transformation, and regulatory and legislative developments. We have been working with associations to help them create proactive strategies and innovative solutions to address these areas. There are also important conversations taking place about sustaining DEI commitments and managing difficult conversations in the boardroom.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Younger: I have always said that the best part of my job is the variety that comes with working with so many amazing associations. Being part of the McKinley team and helping associations face challenges head-on renews me every day!


McKinley Advisors

McKinley Advisors is an award-winning association consulting firm dedicated to accelerating associations’ positive impact on the world. McKinley works in partnership with association executives and volunteer leaders to identify and address their most significant challenges and opportunities. McKinley provides services...


More Posts from our Expert Advisors