By Rene Böhmer

About me: Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE

Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting

I’ve been doing association management for more than twenty-five years, mostly focused on membership, marketing, and communications, but also touching on new product development, corporate sponsorship and fundraising, technology planning and implementation, social media and Internet strategy, budgeting, volunteer management, publications, and governance.

Over the past two and a half decades, I’ve enjoyed success working for associations, producing significant membership growth, product sales increases, and fundraising success, and as a consultant, working with clients to ask the right questions, help them articulate and understand their problems, and work together towards solutions they can implement right away that will create positive change.

I love to ask the questions that help people find and implement creative solutions to their organization’s problems, particularly those that increase revenue, member engagement, and impact, and decrease costs. We can get there together through insight and a focus on the efficient and effective use of staff, information, good practices, and technology to serve your organization’s goals and constituents.

Before I launched Spark, I had the opportunity to consult in online campaigns and marketing and Internet and social media strategy for Beaconfire Consulting (now The Allegiance Group), and in a wide range of subject areas in association management in the not-for-profit consulting practice at RSM McGladrey, Inc. My association staff positions have included Director of Member Services and IT, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship, Vice President of Marketing, and Acting CEO.

I’m a Certified Association Executive, and I hold a Master’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.

Fun Facts

  • I’ve never owned an automatic transmission car. True story.
  • The weirdest job I’ve ever held? Wedding singer. Also a true story.
  • Desert island album? Miles Davis, Kind of Blue.
  • Desired superpower? Flight, no contest.
  • Mac or PC? Mac.
  • Coffee or tea? Both.
  • Cats or dogs? Also both, but my spouse is a cat person, hence, cat(s).
  • Most exotic place I’ve ever traveled? Morocco. I was there for two weeks with a friend and saw most of the northern half of the country (she’s a “14 cities in 3 days” type).
  • Favorite place in the world? New Orleans. If you plan to visit, you owe it to yourself to pick my brain about where to stay, where to eat, and what to do while you’re there.
  • I am a HUGE NFL fan, particularly of the SUPER BOWL LII CHAMPION Philadelphia Eagles.
  • I’m also an avid foodie, food experimenter, and food blogger.
  • I am privileged to serve on the board of directors for Reading Partners DC, an early literacy intervention nonprofit (I’m also a reading tutor in DCPS with Reading Partners).
  • I’m President of DC’s Ward 6 Democrats.
  • I also serve on the board of the DC51 PAC – DC STATEHOOD NOW!

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, ASAE, 1997-present
  • Member, Association Women Technology Champions, 2023-present
  • Member, Fridays@4, 2023-present
  • Marketing & Communications Committee, AWTC, 2022-present
  • Marketing Section Council, ASAE, 2013-2016
    • Chair, Content Generation Subcommittee, 2013-2015
  • Membership Development Committee, ASAE-GW, 2011-2013
    • Chair Retention & Engagement Task Force, 2012-2013
  • Member, Young Association Professionals, 2008-2013
    • Advisory Board Member, Young Association Professionals, 2010-2013
  • Advisory Board Member, Engage365, 2012-2013
  • Mentor, Leadership Academy for Young Professionals, ASAE, 2009-2010
  • CAE Action Team, Greater Washington Network, ASAE, 2004-2010
    • Chair, 2007-2009
    • Immediate Past Chair, 2009-2010
  • Membership Section Council, ASAE, 2007-2010
    • Chair Knowledge Task Force, 2008-2009
    • Chair Academic Outreach Task Force, 2009-2010
  • ASAE Ethics Committee, 2005-2006
  • Winner, Association Social Media Sweet Spot award, June 18, 2010
  • Judge, Association Media & Publishing EXCEL Awards, 2014
  • Judge, ASAE Gold Circle Awards, 2013
  • Judge, ASBO Eagle Awards, 2008, 2009
  • Judge, American Advertising Federation Addy Awards, 2002-2006
  • ASAE Future Leader, 2004
  • Organizer, Scholarly Societies Membership, Marketing and Technology Roundtable, 1999-2004

About You: Is your association ready to grow?

Do your staff members see themselves as a team working together for common goals, not members of their particular department, guarding their turf?

Does your senior leadership understand that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” and reject it in favor of “what if…?”

Does your CEO support new ideas, no matter who originates them, and give staff the permission and resources to experiment, learn, iterate, and improve?

Does your board understand that it’s their job to focus on the big picture future of your profession or industry, not on whether the conference brochure should be blue or green?

Spark Consulting is looking for associations with an entrepreneurial spirit, the potential for growth, boards that have the courage to support innovation, CEOs who reward their teams for generating new ideas, senior leaders who trust and empower their teams, and staff teams who willingly and openly work across departments and silos for the good of the audiences you serve.

If that’s you, we should talk.

About Spark: Corporate Values

There are many excellent consultants serving the association industry. Each of us brings a distinct set of skills and experiences to our work, and has a unique way of interacting with our clients. If you choose Spark as your partner, know that the following principles will guide our engagement, informing and inspiring everything Spark does. They describe what you can count on and expect while working with Spark:

  • I will, to the best of my abilities, use my experience, intelligence, intuition, creativity, and contacts so you can help your members and other audiences achieve their most important professional and personal outcomes.
  • I will help you recognize what’s working well in your organization, so we can figure out how to build on and expand your current success.
  • I will walk you through the difficult conversations you need to have, internally and externally, in order to grow.
  • I will ask the challenging questions that will help us identify the root problems that are holding your association back so we can solve them together.
  • I will be honest with you, even if I’m bringing you bad news. If the house is on fire, you better believe I’m going to tell you. And then we’ll get to work on putting it out, together.
  • I will ALWAYS deliver what I promise when I promised it.
  • I will always aim to be a trusted advisor for you. I want you to be confident that I’m providing you with my best advice, not my most self-serving advice.

What’s important is NOT that you do exactly every single thing I recommend. What IS important is that our interaction gets you to start thinking outside your normal constraints, asking better questions, holding out for more meaningful answers, experimenting with potential solutions that will fix causes rather than symptoms, and learning from what transpires so you can become a vital partner in your members’ success.

What Makes Spark Different?

Custom approach – No “Pick from our standard four engagements,” No “You can have it in any color you want as long as it’s black,” No MembeRecruit-o-Matic9000 into which we plug your data and out pops a recruitment campaign. Everything Spark does is individually created for your association’s unique audience, needs, and situation.

Personal service – Although Spark does have formal support relationships with consulting partners who are also senior association professionals, Spark is a one-person enterprise. That means I’ll never sell you on an engagement, sign the contract, and pawn you off on a junior analyst. You’ll get exactly the skills, expertise, ideas, and relationship in the engagement you were promised in the proposal process.

Innovative solutions – While I don’t believe in totally discounting the tried-and-true methods that make incremental changes and achieve incremental results (i.e., email is a great way to reach members, but most people still like to get at least some stuff in print), I’m pretty much always going to propose at least one BIG idea we’re going to try that includes the potential for higher risk but also carries with it the likelihood of higher rewards.

Association focus – Spark works exclusively with trade and professional membership associations. You’re not just another business line to me. Your community is my community, and I’m deeply invested in our world. I consider myself an association executive first and a consultant second. That means you’ll never bang your head in frustration after having to explain what you mean by “member value proposition,” or that membership in an association is not the same as “membership” at Costco, or that the role of an association Board is different than a for-profit Board, or why anti-trust is such a big deal. You can rest assured, knowing that I already know.

If that resonates with you, I’d love to talk.