It all began in mid 1978 when Curt Matterson, operating then as an association management firm, engaged in correspondence with C.G. Peterman of the American Society of Association Executives, based in Washington, D.C.Mr. Peterman agreed with the idea of forming an affiliate in upstate New York after hearing Mr. Matterson’s charge that the New York Society of Association Executives, headquartered in New York City, could no fit the bill for the entire Empire State. It was noted that the Big Apple bunch did not provide services to those folks toiling north of Westchester, and that the upstaters were not interested in what was happening in the city.

In October, a small group spearheaded by Larry O’Brien (Associated Risk Managers of New York State) got together and set November 22 for a formal meeting of interested parties at the Fort Orange Club. Records are sketchy, but it appears that Rosayne Light (Professional Insurance Agents), Ben Brewster (NYS Association of Life Underwriters), Lloyd Nurick (New York Association of Homes for the Aging, Barbara Rodriguez (NYS Association of Architects) and Charlie Wheeler (Empire State Plaza Convention Center) were most involved.

In February, 1979, Mr. Brewster became the first president, with Ms. Light as vice president, Mr. Matterson as secretary, and Jan Dorman (New York State Optometric Association) as treasurer. Association Executives of Upstate New York was adopted as the name.

The name “Society of Association Executives of Upstate New York” popped up atop the newsletter in May of 1984, although no reference to the authority for such a change has been located. It is noted that the use of the word “Society” relates to the national organization.

Matterson Associates managed the group until 1985 when Capital Hill Management, headed by John Graziano, took over. Interestingly, Vol. 1, Number 1 (February 1985) had a photo of a young Dan Harrison (SAEUNY President for 1991 representing the Capital Region Automobile Dealers Association) on Page 1.

Nurick & Associates, Inc. headed by Lloyd Nurick (1982-83 SAEUNY President) acquired the management chores in 1989 and included in the package was an account executive, Penny Maldonado. After two years at the helm, Mr. Nurick resigned to lead an association in Connecticut.

Over the years consideration had been given to employing a full-time executive director, and at this point the board of directors elected to make the big move. A search committee reviewed some 80 applications and resumes, and interviewed many before agreeing that the best choice was already behind a desk in the SAEUNY office.

Penny Maldonado (now Murphy) was behind the desk for 26 years furthering the interests of SAEUNY. The new Executive Director, Vanessa E. LaClair, CMP, was selected in early 2016 and will continue to strengthen and lead what is now ESSAE, Empire State Society of Association Executives, Inc.
see editor’s note

George Burton, ESSAE Historian

Total AEUNY Membership–12/79
97: 76 association executives
21 suppliers

Total ESSAE Membership–11/15
459: 259 association executives
200 suppliers

Editor’s note:
In 1993, the SAEUNY membership voted to change the name of the association to The Society of Association Executives of New York State to better reflect the composition of its statewide members. As a result of strong opposition by metropolitan New York’s allied society (NYSAE) the membership once again voted to change the association’s name in 1994 to the Empire State Society of Association Executives, Inc. (ESSAE). In addition, the executive director changed her name from Maldonado to Murphy. In 1999, her title was changed to President/CEO.