Large, global associations can be much like huge corporate enterprises. When working well and being led by dedicated, driven and innovative individuals, they can thrive, grow and accomplish truly extraordinary things.

The ability to successfully drive an association forward is even more impressive when you consider that they have many of the same challenges that face global companies, and many unique ones as well. From recruiting new members, to keeping those members engaged, focused and working towards the goals of the greater association as a whole, an association’s leadership has a difficult job.

The Association for Corporate Growth, a global organization with 56 chapters and over 14,000 members that was founded in 1954 and remains a trusted and respected resource for middle-market dealmakers and business leaders who invest in growth and build companies, has been privileged to have some of the best leaders at its helm. And now, a truly great one is being recognized for the significant work that he has done. ACG president & CEO, Gary LaBranche, has been named the 2012 Association TRENDS “Association Executive of the Year.”

Association TRENDS will honor Gary at its “Salute to Association Excellence” which will take place on February 10, 2012 at the Capital Hilton in Washington DC.

Gary’s track record with the association speaks for itself, and leaves little doubt as to why Association TRENDS chose him for this honor. Since joining ACG as CEO in September 2008, the association has achieved several milestones including: membership growth of 20 percent; new chapters in China, Spain and the Czech Republic; launch of a new Web platform shared by all chapters; record  attendance at Intergrowth, ACG’s annual convention; and adoption of a new strategic plan.

ACG also embarked on a new strategy to enhance the image of private capital investment, including: creation of the Middle-Market Private Capital Leadership Forum; launch of and support for the Private Capital Research Institute (PCRI) in partnership with the Brookings Institution. A searchable online map of jobs supported by private capital investment will launch in early 2012.

In addition to his stellar work with ACG, Gary has a long history in business and association management. He became the CEO of DeMolay International at the age of 27, followed by a stint as a association management consultant with Lawrence-Leiter. He headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s association division as well as its Association Committee of 100. He later would join the Center for Association Leadership (ASAE) as VP of professional development before leaving to run an education start-up e-company. He would then become CEO at the Association Forum of Chicagoland before leaving to become the CEO of ACG.

Gary has been recognized by ASAE with the Key Award in 2007 and as a Fellow in ASAE in 1995. He currently serves on the board of ASAE Business Services, and on ASAE’s CEO Advisory Board. He is a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Association Committee of 100 and was chairman of the Chamber’s Institute of Organization Management from 2007 to 2008.

Gary’s leadership and innovative thinking has helped ACG continue its unprecedented growth even amid one the worst economic downturns in recent history. ACG’s 14,000 members, including the members of the National Capital Chapter, have benefited greatly from his leadership, which has made the Association for Corporate Growth the preeminent association for corporate leaders in the growth community.

Congratulations to Gary on his truly well-deserved honor. And a thank-you as well for making ACG the premier place to network and learn with the greatest minds in business from across the globe.