Elizabeth Niehaus is the Executive Officer of IELA – the International Exhibition Logistics Association. She has served associations since 2011 and strongly believes in the power of connecting that only communities can create, where service, value, and purpose are intertwined to build one strong league. Elizabeth recognizes the ‘magical power’ of Associations in boosting a culture of constant learning, mentoring, and commitment to transformation as ideal ecosystems of solidarity and solution-driven environments. As safe spaces to exchange insights, ideas, and problems, associations play a crucial role they play in building a better future.  

Elizabeth Niehaus
Executive Officer, IELA - Int. Exhibition Logistics Association

What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others? Why/ why not? 

My mother, a passionate medical doctor, was strongly committed to her association. I remember being forced to help as a teenager, but I understood the passion in the air: a passion for training and education, a passion for sharing new insights, a passion for becoming better.

Today, I feel exactly the same about the role of associations. If you are passionate about driving and thriving change, there is no better place to start your career path. Whatever you do will be multiplied!

How do you/ your association #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? 

Giving diverse groups a voice is important. Thriving in inclusive decision-making environments with diverse backgrounds is what truly matters! Only then can we truly #EmbraceEquity.

I can see the seeds that we sowed in the past have finally begun to blossom. Compare today’s Board Meeting pictures with the ones from 20 years ago. We have good reasons to celebrate, and future generations will make it even better!

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects and ideas can you share that help others understand the real value of DEI? 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the DNA of future-driven associations. One element, though, is key: succession planning. This applies to the board level, to every single working group, and to task force. We are the ones designing a DEI future, and we are the ones responsible for making it happen. We need to ignite passion, motivate, and mentor to help create the world we want to live in!