Associations' 'finest advocate' Jim Low dies


Contact: Autumn Jones
Phone: 240-235-0277


A beacon for the association community, and the first Association TRENDS Association Executive of the Year James P. Low, CAE, 83, died Oct. 11 of cancer.

“Jim was a scrapper and fought hard for the rights and value of associations and those who worked in association management. We have lost our finest advocate,” commented Association TRENDS executive editor Jill Martineau Cornish, IOM.

He began his association career as the executive of the Pulaski (VA) Chamber before joining the US Chamber as manager of its association department, a position he held for 10 years.

In 1965, ASAE selected Low as president, where he served for 16 years until retirement. After leaving ASAE, he launched Dynamics America, a consulting and training company for trade and professional associations, corporations and government agencies.

Low served on many boards in his lifetime, including for the U. of Maryland Foundation as well as boards for the university’s business and public affairs schools. Other board service included for the National Savings and Trust Co., American Historic and Cultural Society, Washingtonian magazine, Ethics Resource Center, National Center for Voluntary Action and DC public television station WETA.

He also served in the administrations of several US presidents. He was a member of the Small Advisory Group for President Reagan’s Office of Public Liaison. He served as chairman of the 1981 Inaugural Housing Committee and was a member of Reagan’s Finance Committee. Presidents Ford and Carter appointed him to the President’s Commission on Personnel Interchange.

In 1979, Low was a member of the US trade delegation to the People’s Republic of China. President Carter appointed him to the US delegation to the funeral of Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta, and he also was a member of Reagan’s delegation to the independence celebration of Antigua and Barbuda. Former Mexican President Miguel Aleman presented Low with the highest award given to non-nationals in that country.

In 1980, he became the first Association TRENDS Association Executive of the Year. At that time, the honor was determined by the votes of association executives across the country.

”As an advocate for associations, Jim took his case to the highest levels wherever he went. He was recognized as a leader and advisor, one who knew the importance of association business,” Cornish said. “Other association professionals understood that he had their best interests at heart, whether or not they agreed with him.”

In 1985, he was inducted into the now Convention Industry Council’s “Hall of Leaders” at a special ceremony at the old Washington Convention Center, where a bust of him was unveiled. The US Chamber Association Committee of 100 presented him with its Chairman’s Medal for Distinguished Service in 1993. ASAE honored him with its “Key Man Award,” and at his retirement, declared his 16 years as ASAE president “The Era of Jim Low.”

ASAE CEO John Graham IV, CAE, said: "During his strong and dynamic tenure, he elevated the image of our profession and the important role associations play in America. His achievements and life-long commitment to the association profession left a significant mark on our community, and will continue to shape our work."

He enlisted as a Marine at age 16, with his mother's consent, but was not sent into combat. He served out WWII as the Superintendent's orderly at the Naval Academy. He was a veteran of the Korean War, having served in combat with the US Army’s Seventh Infantry Division. He left the US Army with the rank of captain. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

A native Washingtonian, he earned a BA in government from the U. of Maryland, and an MBA from Florida Atlantic U. He is a graduate of the Academy of Organizational Management, now the Institute for Organization Management, and was bestowed an honorary doctorate of law by Northwood Institute of Texas.

He was a member of Congressional Country Club in Potomac MD, and was a third degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

He is survived by his wife Patti and their two daughters.