We are excited to welcome Mona Buckley as GEBA’s new President and CEO. Mona brings over thirty years of nonprofit association management experience to GEBA, having served in executive positions at five other associations including the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA). Throughout her career, she has built an impressive track record of consistently growing membership, programs, and mission impact by applying her expertise. These are some of the same qualities that she will rely on in her new role at GEBA: a laser focus on member service and organizational strategy.
As we were preparing to move into our new office, we had an opportunity to sit with Mona, amidst some boxes and bins, and talk with her about some of her first thoughts as she takes the helm. Below are some of the topics that we covered.
Mona, of course, will be sharing her vision and plans for GEBA in the coming months through Solutions CEO Update, and other communications with members.
How did you come to GEBA? I have known about GEBA for several years since GEBA is an institutional member of a trade association I led which focuses on the group benefits marketplace. The position came up as I was looking for a new association CEO role and it seemed like a potential good fit. A professional search firm worked with the Board Search committee. I was very pleased to be offered the opportunity.
How was moving across the country amid COVID? The move was like most other moves I have done, just with masks. Getting things delivered upon arrival was what delayed getting fully settled, between COVID, holiday shopping, and then vaccine shipping. Luckily, I lived in DC about 20 years ago and have traveled back frequently for professional reasons so it wasn’t a tough transition (and I will appreciate a non-Chicago winter and being closer to my original hometown of NYC).
How will you/have you been able to assume the role virtually? I have worked remotely for much of the past fifteen years, so I know the value of in-person connections and productivity. I have also been part of a community navigating the evolving policies based on COVID numbers—Chicago was very shut down for several weeks last spring. GEBA’s staggered schedules and technology support have made it all work, so we will continue adjusting protocols to ensure both business continuity and staff safety.
What, from your prior experience and expertise, will be core assets for GEBA? I think my experience working in membership associations (in six associations) and in member service programs, is the first value add. Second, my 25+ years in the insurance and marketing arena, with the experts, in the business will help drive GEBA forward.
What are your top priorities? This is my fifth CEO role and seventh association. With onboarding in any position, immersion in background materials is critical, along with relationship forging with the board, staff, external partners & stakeholders, and member clients/customers. The Board and my predecessor Michele have lined up a strategic plan; my job is to learn more, operationalize it, and look beyond the immediate to “what next?” to continue to serve member needs at our best and for perpetuity. The organization is healthy, stable and that allows us to explore potential growth and new directions.
What is the state of member-based organizations like GEBA, as you see them, in the marketplace? The marketplace is competitive and changing. Our job is to respond to and anticipate those changes, to ensure we fulfill our mission and support members and their families at all Life-Stages. This is where my experience in the business and with the experts can help shape GEBA’s future. I’m excited to bring that perspective to work for all of GEBA’s members!