Jay Karen has been the CEO of National Golf Course Owners Association since 2015, where he leads the golf industry’s trade association and initiatives to support the success of the golf course business, a critical element of an $84B industry in the United States. Prior to his appointment at NGCOA, Jay was CEO of Select Registry, a portfolio of over 300 premier boutique hotels, inns and B&Bs. For seven years before that, Jay was President and CEO of the trade association representing owners of small, independent lodging businesses.
Jay was also with the NGCOA for ten years early in his career, having served the association in several roles. Jay holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winthrop University, a Master of Arts degree in American History from the College of Charleston and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) by the American Society of Association Executives. Jay serves as Chairman of the industry-wide advocacy coalition, We Are Golf, and as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame advisory board and the Golf USA Tee Time Coalition, a joint initiative with the PGA of America. He has also served on the boards of directors of the United States Travel Association and the College of Charleston’s Hospitality and Tourism Management degree program. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CBS Radio, NBC News, the Golf Channel, Golf Digest and many others call upon Jay for his insights on the golf industry.
Within the association community, Jay has become well known as a thought leader and progressive practitioner. He has been asked by ASAE to author articles and make presentations on effective leadership and membership growth at many ASAE Annual Meetings. Recently, he contributed to the books Membership Essentials and the ASAE Handbook of Professional Practices in Association Management. Jay serves on ASAE’s Executive Management section council, Public Policy Committee and board of directors for ASAE Business Solutions Inc (for-profit subsidiary of ASAE). In addition, Jay serves on the Advisory Board to McKinley Advisors, one of the association industry’s most respected consulting companies, and is an advisor to the board of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
On a personal note, Jay has been married for 18 years to an amazing woman, who is an independent college counselor, and they have two children: a 13-year old daughter and 10-year old son. His primary interests include spending as much time with his family as possible (priorities), playing golf (since the age of 10), amateur photography (who isn’t these days?), social media (he keeps Facebook in business), contemplating the meaning of life (doesn’t everyone?), swinging a kettlebell or running trails as often as he can (you should too), and eating foods that are really bad for him (one foot on the gas, one foot on the brake).
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