Position: Executive vice president and chief operating officer, Association Management Group, a company dedicated to staffing and managing associations and nonprofit organizations.

Career highlights: Vice president, business and operations, Equipment Leasing Association; spent nine years at Manufactured Housing Institute in various posts including director, administration and information systems and comptroller.

Age: 36

Education: BS, business administration, Frostburg State University; MA, financial management, University of Maryland.

Personal: Lives in Springfield with wife, Krista, and their children, Josh, 7, and Evan, 5.

How did you get where you are today?

It's been an interesting road. You probably want to start with my parents because my father is a PhD, and education has been the foundation of everything. My parents were the driving force behind me getting to the point where I am today. Another thing is surrounding myself with energetic, knowledgeable people who have an endless drive for success. That is a combination of family, friends, co-workers, past supervisors and, in particular, Mike Flemming, president of Equipment Leasing. He gave me plenty of opportunity to grow [in] my position. I learned from him that you need to take risks and accept failure to continue to grow as a professional and as a person. I followed that way of thinking. One of the other things that have always stuck with me is challenge. I like to see challenges as opportunities. One of the keys for me has always been to engage people at all levels of the organization. You have got to have the right listening skills so you can understand what motivates people, and build on their strengths. . . .

When I graduated from college, I didn't have a good understanding of not-for-profits. Then I started working for one, and after two or three years, I fully understood their value. It was definitely a career I wanted to stick with. I am not a person who writes out a five-year personal development plan for my career, because I see the world changing too fast. What I can tell you is that this is the next level of my career. I don't know that this is the pinnacle or not. I can tell you that there's a huge opportunity. . . .

I think my biggest break was receiving the CAE -- Certified Association designation. There really are two things that go with that. The first is that while studying to get that, it gave me a much broader view of not-for-profits. And, then specifically, it helped me as I prepared for my career move to here. It gave me the tools I needed.

I'm motivated by developing people, which is an odd thing for an operations person to say because operations people are typically very structured people. They like to have policy and procedures in place. There is a very delicate balance between understanding staffing needs and working with staff to develop and implement internal structures. What's key is surrounding yourself with driven, knowledgeable people no matter where you are; second, having a genuine interest in the mission of the organization your are serving; and, third, the ability to skillfully listen and understand what our staff needs.

-- Judith Mbuya