Insider's Guide to Spas
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals' leadership team, clockwise: Les Sweeney, Leslie Young, Bob Benson, and Darren Buford.

People in the News

New Leadership at ABMP


Professional Assist Corporation (PAC), the parent organization to Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), recently announced changes in its leadership team. Bob Benson, PAC and ABMP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since 1996, revealed his intention to step down as PAC CEO as of January 1, 2018, and recommended to the PAC Board of Directors that Les Sweeney, PAC and ABMP President, succeed him as CEO.

Under Benson’s leadership, ABMP grew from slightly more than 15,000 members to become the largest association serving the massage profession, with more than 80,000 members. In addition, PAC launched sister associations Associated Skin Care Professionals, Associated Hair Professionals, and Associated Nail Professionals—each is now the largest individual membership association in its respective field.

Under Benson’s leadership, ABMP grew from slightly more than 15,000 members to become the largest association serving the massage profession, with more than 80,000 members.

Benson’s stepping down as CEO does not signal a departure from PAC. “I am excited for Les having an opportunity to take the reins. He has developed his skills, worked hard and creatively, and contributed significantly to more than two decades of company success,” Bensons says. “I will continue to shoulder several operational responsibilities, including a couple new ones, as well as providing leadership as Board Chairman.”

Sweeney adds, “Bob Benson has dramatically changed the massage profession for the better over the past 21 years; our organization and the profession owe him a great debt of gratitude. Succeeding him is both an honor and a challenge; I have big shoes to fill—literally! The good news is he’ll continue to be around. And the bottom line is ABMP members can expect to continue to receive best-in-class service and resources.”

Changes at Massage & Bodywork

Darren Buford has been named Editor-in-Chief of Massage & Bodywork magazine, succeeding Leslie Young. “Darren is ideally suited to step into this unique editorial role,” Young says. “I’m excited to see what his leadership will mean for our members.” Buford has been with ABMP and the magazine for more than 17 years. He’s been particularly instrumental in orchestrating Massage & Bodywork’s digital and design excellence, leading to more than 30 national awards. He also serves ABMP operationally as Director of Communication Services and is President of the Western Publishing Association.

Leslie Young has been with ABMP and Massage & Bodywork for more than 15 years, serving as Vice President Communication for ABMP and its sister associations. In this transition, Young’s role within ABMP is expanding. As the new Vice President of Communication and Professional Outreach, she’ll handle special projects internally and continue to travel broadly representing ABMP, connecting with its members and partners. She’ll also continue to contribute to Massage & Bodywork as Editor-at-Large.

Both Buford and Young serve on the PAC senior management team that supports ABMP.