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Our History

Seven decades of helping to create a world that works better.


Seven decades. The world is a vastly different place today than it was in 1943. And in that span of time, our association has been serving the training and talent development profession, supporting those who develop knowledge and skills of employees. 

In 1943, 15 men gathered for the first meeting of the American Society of Training Directors. The goal was to create an organizations devoted to raising the standards for the industrial training profession, and to further the training professional’s education and development. The society’s name changed to the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and as the organization grew, the scope of services provided to its members and the global community of training professionals grew too. 

From publications to education courses and certifications, ASTD continued to respond to the needs of the training and development profession. For more than 70 years the association was known as ASTD. In 2014, the organization changed its name to the Association for Talent Development (ATD) to reflect the global nature and broad scope of its members’ work.

Today, in the age of technology-driven advancements and a membership that spans the globe, our mission statement is not so different from those early goals: empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace. This mission points to the association’s broader vision that our global community of professionals aspires to: Create a World that Works Better. Our association continues to promote the interests of professionals, educators, and instructors in the fields of talent development and workplace learning and performance, and provides business information to specialists regarding the benefits these fields.

Association Timeline:

1943 Fifteen men gather in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to form the American Society

for Training Directors

1945     The first issue of ASTD’s quarterly membership publication Industrial Training

is published. First national conference is held in Chicago, Illinois.

1947 Industrial Training News changes its name to Journal of Industrial Training

and becomes bi-monthly

1951 ASTD opens its first permanent office in Madison, Wisconsin 

1964 American Society of Training Directors changes its name to the American Society

for Training and Development

1966 Training Director’s Journal changes its name to Training & Development Journal

1975 ASTD opens a branch office in Washington, D.C. 

1981 ASTD moves its headquarters to Washington, D.C. and in 1985 relocates

to Alexandria, Virginia.

1991 Training & Development Journal becomes Training & Development

1994 First international conference is held in Anaheim, California

2001 ASTD Certification Institute established

2006 First CPLP certification awarded

2012 ASTD introduces communities of practice

2014 ASTD changes its name to the Association for Talent Development

2015 ATD opens its first office outside the United States in Shanghai, China

2016 Membership is 36,000, with members working in 120+ countries





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