The definition is pretty straightforward: An association is an organization of persons having a common interest. Basically, it's a group that shares a purpose or mission that exists for the mutual advancement of its members.
Earlier this year, a relative of mine, Sidney Mandell, tragically passed away. I had the good fortune to serve with Sidney on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA). Though he started before me, his MDNA career and mine overlapped for about 2 years. As I think back on the many things I learned form him, one of his favorite phrases keeps come to mind: "We walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before us."