Holding a strong belief in the transformative impact of associations on society, Tori is a long-time member and volunteer within the association community. Before her position as CEO of the Association for Intelligent Information Management, Tori worked as Chief Information Officer (CIO), demonstrating a fervor for utilizing technology to propel organizational missions forward. She has also served as a co-founder and former Board Member of the Association Women Technology Champions. In addition to her interests in technology and associations, Tori’s passions extend to historic preservation, theatre, and nurturing her young family.

Tori Liu
President & CEO, Association for Intelligent Information Management

Tori’s Story: Discovering my passion for associations

While my involvement with international organizations was accidental, some of the most rewarding experiences of my career have been collaborating with and visiting members outside of the United States. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world on behalf of associations. Learning about others through collaboration and service (as opposed to tourism) provides you with a much richer understanding of different cultures and regions. Now, I can’t imagine working for an organization that does not have a global membership. Within international associations, you’ll find a diversity of experiences and perspectives that ultimately create a better outcome for industries and professions. It is both a challenging and rewarding career path.

Tori’s Approach: How to #InspireInclusion through through volunteerism and leadership

I #InspireInclusion through volunteerism and leadership. As a young woman in IT, I lacked mentors to look up to. In 2018, I co-founded Association Women Technology Champions (AWTC) with the mission to advance, empower, and recognize women in the association technology community. AWTC provided me with mentors and a community of women and allies committed to diversity in IT. While serving as Chair of the AWTC Programming Committee, I worked to develop programming that elevated women and highlighted issues women in tech face. We hosted programs on ethical considerations of AI, algorithmic bias, mitigating microaggressions in the workplace, and the equity of hybrid workplaces.

At AIIM, we’ve focused on fostering diversity in our leadership by changing our Nominating Committee strategy for selecting candidates. We have also addressed the lack of young professionals in our space by introducing student delegations at our annual conference. We have also found success in supporting grassroots diversity efforts, including the revival of the Women in Information Management group and the establishment of a BIPOC Community Group.

Tori’s Perspective: On the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for associations

Associations should reflect and represent the people they serve. I find it troubling that as our population becomes increasingly diverse and younger, our associations are struggling to create more inclusive, equitable environments. Sometimes it’s because we lack expertise or resources, but increasingly I fear that the decline in corporate investment in DEI may impact association investment in DEI. SHRM reported that DE&I roles decreased by 19%  in 2022. We need diversity fostered by equity and inclusivity amongst leadership and membership to represent the people we serve appropriately and knowledgeably. The importance of DEI will be felt by its absence. DEI is how associations maintain relevance and thrive into the future. Our homogeneity stifles innovation and discourages participation from new audiences. If we continue to neglect DEI, we will feel the repercussions in the long term.

Tori’s Initiatives: Actions and Inspirations for fellow association leaders

As we approach our annual conference in San Antonio, I am applying DEI principles to create a more innovative and inclusive event. At last year’s event, we promoted local innovation too. Events can positively contribute to a host city (beyond tourism revenue) by fostering cultural understanding and engaging attendees in volunteerism. I believe events can also leverage and contribute to local communities of practice. At our conference in 2023, we hosted a Q&A session with representatives from local economic development agencies and black technologists in New Orleans. We also invited four C-Suite executives from the New Orleans area to share their perspectives on the industry in the area. We hosted student delegations from Tulane, LSU, and Dillard University in 2023 to connect with and foster the next generation of information management professionals. We will continue our student delegation program at this year’s event.

To foster innovation and inclusivity, we are reducing barriers to market entry by giving smaller, new companies a chance to exhibit at a lower cost in a special Innovation Hub at the 2024 event. These ideas have reenergized our annual conference and contribute to AIIM’s rejuvenation. I don’t have data to prove that these ideas will work, but I believe that our conference plans demonstrate my commitment to innovation, DEI, and ability to advance the information management industry, which in turn will help society at large.