Grasstops: The leadership in a community or organization. First documented in 1992 in a Public Relations Quarterly article, where the word was spelled “grassTOPS” to emphasize the coinage. Usage has increased since 2007, according to a Google Insights graph.
Here’s a recent sighting, in a May 5, 2012, job listing posted by California Right to Know:
Experience and qualifications:
- Minimum 2-5 years experience in grassroots and grasstops organizing …
The Word Spy entry for grasstops provides some historical background:
This term is a play on grassroots, the ordinary people of a community or organization. Since at least 1912 the word “grassroots” has been used mostly in a political context, where it refers to the rank-and-file of the electorate, a political party, or some other political organization. If the grassroots form the base of the political pyramid, the grasstops form the apex, the small group that consists of the elite and powerful members of the body politic.
See also: Astroturfing.
(Thanks to Deborah Gavrin Frangquist for the tip.)