Opening General Session featuring James Meyers and a Welcome from Mike Aitken, David Windley & Wendi Safstrom

Volunteer Leaders' Business Meeting

Becoming Essential
James Meyers will utilize his 25 years of experience working with leading trade associations to explain how digital, economic and cultural disruptions have threatened the future of associations and what they need to do in order to remain relevant and essential for their members and the world.


Date(s) & Time(s): 
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 3:15pm to 4:45pm

James Meyers


James Meyers founded Imagination in 1994, an award-winning content marketing agency with over 100 employees in Chicago and Washington, D.C. He currently works with some of the largest, most forward-thinking companies and associations in America, helping them futureproof their marketing and messaging. Jim specializes in developing strategies for organizations seeking to offer enduring value and relevance by transforming their marketing programs into dynamic, always-on content built to anticipate and deliver on customer and member needs. In 2019, Jim authored the book Becoming Essential which explores the challenges that associations face in today’s digital world and how they can remain essential to their members.

 Prior to the start of Imagination, Jim served as group president of Macmillan Business Publishing, senior vice president of marketing for the Chicago Sun-Times, and senior vice president of marketing at Carson Pirie Scott stores. 

Jim received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. He has also completed management and leadership programs at Northwestern University and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Mike Aitken


Mike Aitken was appointed Senior Vice President for Membership in 2018 after 15 years leading SHRM’s successful advocacy programs as Vice President of Government Affairs. 

Mike is a leading authority on the issues important to the human resource profession and drives SHRM’s membership vision, ensuring excellent member experiences, and implementing the organization’s newly developed business strategy.

He applies his proven model of engagement to shape the future of work, workers and workplaces. He is an expert relationship-builder across diverse constituencies and stakeholders, always seeking out the “win-win” in every situation.

As a member of SHRM’s senior management team, Mike also plays a key role in setting the strategic direction of the organization, offering important counsel on SHRM’s educational programs and professional development opportunities.

Prior to joining SHRM in 2003, he spent 14 years with the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), which represents more than 23,000 HR professionals at over 1,900 higher education institutions. 

In 2015 and 2016, Mike served as an employer representative on the U.S. delegation to the International Labour Conference.

Mike currently serves as a board member for OpenWork and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of San Diego.

David Windley, SHRM-SCP

Windley, SHRM-SCP

David Windley is the CEO of IQTalent Partners, Inc. and oversees the firm’s strategic direction, business development, and day to day operations. Prior to joining IQTalent Partners, Windley was the Chief Human Resources Officer at Yahoo! and Fusion-io. Additionally, Windley held executive human resources positions at Microsoft, Intuit and Silicon Graphics, Inc. He is currently the Board Chair for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and serves on the Tenant Company Board of Directors as the Compensation Committee Chair. Windley is a Governance Fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). He earned his MBA from San Francisco State University and is a graduate of San Diego State University.

Wendi Safstrom


Wendi Safstrom is a senior non-profit leader committed to serving the public through philanthropic program management, cultivating strategic partnerships and managing and developing high performing teams.   Ms. Safstrom has both association and nonprofit management experience including; national program development and administration, membership strategy, marketing and product development, grant management, development and donor stewardship, and leading cross functional teams.  Ms. Safstrom currently serves as Executive Director for the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation (SHRM Foundation), where she leads the development and implementation of SHRM Foundation's programmatic, development, and marketing and communication strategies in support of SHRM Foundation's new mission and vision, creating growth plans and ensuring alignment with SHRM goals.

 Prior to assuming the role at SHRM Foundation, Ms. Safstrom served as Vice President at the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, where she led the development and implementation of their Foundation's most recent five-year strategic plan, and was responsible for all Foundation programming, including workforce development initiatives, scholarship and event management, community relations and engagement initiatives.  The NRAEF's philanthropic programming supported a number of audiences including high school youth, veterans transitioning from service to civilian work and life, opportunity youth and incumbent workers.  Of particular note, Ms. Safstrom lead the implementation of the restaurant industry's premier high school career and technical education program, growing the program to over 2,000 public high schools, engaging over 150,000 students annually, nationwide.  In 2016, she served as lead project director for the development of a $10M contract awarded by the US Department of Labor to develop the hospitality industry's first apprenticeship program, and was instrumental in the Foundation's reorganization and relocation of operations from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, D.C., transforming the staff and culture.

 Ms. Safstrom has also held human resource management roles with the Leo Burnett Company and Hyatt Hotels Corporation in Chicago, Illinois.  Ms. Safstrom has a BS in Business Administration from the Eli Broad School of Business at Michigan State University and was recognized as a member of the 2014 "Power 20" by Restaurant Business Magazine as a leader in philanthropy within the restaurant industry.  A native of Seattle, Washington, Ms. Safstrom and her husband reside in Old Town, Alexandria VA.


Marquis Ballroom Salons 6-10 (Meeting Level 2)
Session Type: 
General Session
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