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Professional Development: The Value of the Emerging Leaders Program

By Evan Clary

November 13, 2023

I probably have a similar story to many other AICC Emerging Leaders (ELs). When I started working for the family business, I was encouraged to attend the AICC Southeast Summit as my first event in 2017. I did not know anyone in AICC at the time, and when I walked into the networking event, I immediately realized that at the age of 22, I was much younger than many of the AICC members and suppliers. I was lucky that Dave Burgess sought me out as a newcomer and both welcomed me and introduced me to people he knew at the networking event.

This was an experience I will never forget; it embodies one of the core values of AICC.

Shortly after the 2017 Southeast Summit, I started to attend EL events at the national meetings. I quickly realized that the EL network was a group I wanted to participate in. Both AICC members and suppliers in the EL group have welcomed and continue to make every effort to welcome newcomers to the industry. These efforts are extremely important for us because the industry has struggled to attract new young talent.

I believe the EL group provides value on multiple levels to those who attend and actively participate in its events. The network of peers one can develop via the EL group can range from customers and suppliers to consultants and friends. It acts as a forum to bounce ideas off one another and develop one’s own professional styles and strategies. The more formal EL events such as training seminars can offer insight from experts in their fields—depending on the theme of the curriculum. (This year, it has been leadership development.)

Jordan Dawson, John McQueary, Lauren Frisch, and Cassi Malone—all recent EL delegates—assisted the group in continuing to make strides in its programming and overall organizational structure. They have done, in my opinion, an excellent job. Now, at age 28, I will have a great opportunity to learn from them over the next year. It is my hope that we can continue to improve on the value the EL group provides each year so we do not become complacent. I am extremely encouraged by the turnout at events over the past few years that we continue to head in the right direction in providing maximum value to the ELs.

If you or anyone at your company has any interest in learning more about the AICC EL program, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Evan Clary is a North American sales associate at National Corrugated Machinery and JS Machine. He can be reached at 443-388-7153 or