Photo by Chuck Fazio

Photo by Chuck Fazio

Nicole Ratner, CAE, CMP

With over 16 years of experience in association management with expertise in meeting and event planning, educational programming, board and committee relations, communications, and more, Nicole is a former Executive Director of a national association where she handled the day-to-day operations, membership, marketing, meetings, and education.

She is a graduate of George Mason University with a BA in communications and previously worked for NBC4 in Washington in the Entertainment field with Arch Campbell. She formally began her association management career working for the Fairfax Bar Association and later the American Bar Association as a Meetings Coordinator. Mrs. Ratner has also served as Director of Public Relations for a law firm in Washington, DC where she was responsible for client relations, marketing and all PR for the firm founder.

She received her Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) Designate in January of 2007 and Certified Association Executive (CAE) Designate in 2009 and at the time was in the 1% in earning this designation under the age of 30. She has been an active member of The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) where she served as Chair of the Ambassador
Subcommittee for the Community Outreach Committee. Nicole has also been a member of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and its local chapter, PMPI for 9 years. During her time with PMPI, she served as co-chair of the Publications committee, Board Director for Marketing, Vice President, Communications and as co-chair of the Leadership committee. She has also been a member of MPI National’s Rise Award Committee. Nicole has been recognized with the Star of the Month, 2006-2007 Rising Star Award and 2007-2008 Planner of the Year by PMPI. In September of 2013 she was announced as one of the Inaugural 40 under 40 award recipients that recognizes dedication in leadership and work to the Association profession. She is currently a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) as well as the Prince William County Networking Community (PWC Networking Community) where she serves as Vice President. 

In addition, Nicole has over 10 years experience in network marketing and direct sales leading a team of over 20 at one point. She previously worked for a direct sales jewelry company for 8 years until they closed their doors in late 2014. In 2015 she became a Founding Leader at adornable.u accessories. In May, 2017 she retired from the direct sales industry to focus more on The Next Steps, LLC. Through this direct/social selling jewelry line, Nicole educated women on the essentials of accessories and how they best work with each individual based on body type and much more. Her team was consistently recognized for being in the Top 10 of Team Sales company wide. In her experiences with both companies she worked with her team focusing on events, sales, marketing, goal setting, strategic planning and leadership.

In her spare time she enjoys dancing and is a former trained dancer in competitive ballroom. In addition to dancing she loves to travel, exercise, and gamble! Her greatest accomplishments are that of her marriage to husband and business partner, Dan, two precious daughters and cat, Lucky.


Photo by Chuck Fazio

Dan Ratner

Membership and Business Development Strategist

In his more than 20 years as an association professional, Dan has specialized in membership development and retention at all levels rising to executive levels of both professional and trade associations. All of these organizations achieved records in membership growth during his tenure. The size of these organizations range from 1,200 members to 175,000 and operating budgets of up to $60 million. His experience includes leading membership development, constituent relations, customer service, and direct sales teams. In several cases, Mr. Ratner pioneered and championed the use of social media and online meeting platforms for membership development purposes. He regularly took on the role of change agent for the culture within these organizations advocating for membership to be at the core of the overall business model.

Dan’s major accomplishments throughout his career have left a legacy of innovation and growth.

Early in his career as a membership professional, Mr. Ratner spearheaded changing the membership business model of an organization from an individual membership organization to a hybrid model bringing in institutional membership and expanding dues revenue streams. Around that same time he developed an electronic membership model that went beyond just providing access to benefits online. This new membership product offered exclusive content for online-only members and added a new benefit to the other membership levels in the process.

Dan has worked extensively with customer service call centers to train them on cross-selling and upselling beyond membership to improve the lifetime value of members and create greater retention and stickiness among constituents.

He introduced the use of Twitter to engage members which led organically to a large Tweetup occurring at the organization’s annual conference. That organization now has a vibrant social media presence that includes more than a dozen Twitter handles related to their many programs, products, and service offerings.

Mr. Ratner is known for his transparency related to membership data with organizations regularly providing weekly and monthly reports and communications on data elements such as member counts, sales, retention rate, year over year comparisons, dues revenues, and acquisition funnels.

His creativity and futuristic thinking around membership retention and engagement has led to organizations adopting practices and traditions that involve all staff members in membership growth initiatives well beyond his employment.

For most of his professional career, Dan has been asked to lead and participate in organization-wide teams related to strategic planning, rebranding, mission and vision development, building an online community. Regardless of his title, he has been invited to participate in executive leadership discussions and meetings in every organization.

When working with any organization, Dan’s primary considerations have always been on enhancing the membership experience, improving and refining the membership value proposition, stimulating engagement among members and nonmember prospects, and collaborating with content developers to ensure benefits and services remain relevant to members and constituents. He is also a staunch advocate of student membership.

Dan is also proud of his efforts in leading a community charity drive at an organization that raised a record breaking $25,000 of donations from staff alone. He also has a background in retail and commissioned sales and advertising and marketing.

He is a dynamic and energetic speaker and presenter and has years of training and on-stage experience as an improvisational and standup comedian. As a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) for the past 17 years, Mr. Ratner has presented sessions at several of their conferences and been a panelist for the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s Association Day event. He has been featured in an article for Associations Now and authored an article for ASAE’s Executive Idealinks online publication.

Mr. Ratner graduated Florida State University with a Bachelors in Instrumental Music Education and taught for two years in central Florida before moving to the metropolitan Washington DC area. He has also been a musician for a majority of his life and is a member of an 11-piece rhythm & blues, soul, and funk band in the DC area for the past 20 years.

Dan is also a proud husband and father of two adorable daughters. He met his beautiful and talented wife within the association world and is pursuing and experiencing happiness every single day.