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Episode Eight: Henry S. Givray

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On this episode of the CEOnly Podcast, Michelle Mason, CAE, FASAE, talks with Henry Givray. Givray is the former CEO and current chairman of the board of directors of SmithBucklin about his leadership philosophy and how association executives can be effective and trusted leaders.


  • Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE

    President and CEO, Association Forum

    Michelle Mason is the President and CEO of Association Forum. Association Forum is the “association of associations” in Chicago. Founded in 1916, it has nearly 4,000 members. Prior to Association Forum, Michelle served as a managing director at the American Society for Quality (ASQ). In this role, she concentrated on business development, membership, component relations, innovation, advocacy, social responsibility, and process improvement efforts. Prior to she was Vice President of Strategic and Future Focused Research at the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE).

  • Henry S. Givray

    Henry S. Givray is Chairman and former CEO of SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. The company offers full-service management and outsourced services to trade and professional associations, technology user communities, industry consortia, charitable organizations, corporations and government institutes. Henry served as SmithBucklin President & CEO from August 2002 through December 2015. He previously worked for the company between 1983 and 1996, having served as chief staff executive for multiple client associations in addition to handling other corporate responsibilities.

    During Henry’s 13 years as CEO, SmithBucklin achieved unprecedented success in its 60-plus year history including client satisfaction and retention, employee engagement, company growth and financial performance. Fulfilling his vision and dream to make SmithBucklin a 100-percent-employee-owned company, Henry led the transfer of the company’s ownership from its financial investors to its more than 700 employees in 2005. The SmithBucklin Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) allows every employee, regardless of position, tenure or compensation, an equal opportunity to acquire ownership in the company.

    Henry is a dedicated, ongoing student of leadership, committed to speaking and writing as a way to serve others. His insights and ideas on leadership have been prominently featured in business books and top national news media. One of Henry’s most enduring achievements has been his creation of intensive, high-impact leadership learning programs. The programming has evolved to include two offerings. The SmithBucklin Leadership Institute is for board member from client associations. Leadership’s Calling® is for the business and professional communities at-large and includes a selected few top-performing SmithBucklin employees. Henry regularly is invited to speak at association conferences, corporate meetings and educational forums.

    Henry was selected as one of the 18 Best Bosses for 2006 by Winning Workplaces, a national non-profit with the mission of helping leaders of small and midsize organizations create great workplaces. Also in 2006, the Destination Marketing Association International Foundation honored Henry and SmithBucklin with the prestigious Spirit of Hospitality Award, which is widely regarded as one of the highest honors in the hospitality industry. In addition, Henry was honored with the 2008 Samuel B. Shapiro Award by the Association Forum of Chicagoland. The award is the Forum’s highest honor and is presented each year to a chief executive officer for his or her outstanding service and accomplishments. In 2013, Henry was named the TSNN Industry Icon Award honoree by Trade Show News Network. Tradeshow Week named Henry as one of the 100 most influential people in the tradeshow business in its October 2, 2006 edition. In 2018, Henry was selected by the Events Industry Council for its prestigious Hall of Leaders.

    Prior to rejoining SmithBucklin as CEO, Henry served as chairman, president and CEO of CourtLink Corporation, an online service for retrieving court records and electronically filing legal documents to and from our nation’s courts. He also earlier served as president and COO of Giga Information Group, an IT services company founded by Gideon Gartner, founder and former chairman of The Gartner Group. Henry holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and both a B.S. and M.E. in operations research from Cornell University.