Efficient and organized, Diane Meyer has worked through 50 years of changes
By Andrea Knotts Bona
Diane Meyer has worked through many iterations of continual change and progress at ICBA. One was producing the forerunner print newsletter of today’s ICBA NewsWatch Today daily digital newsletter.
In her early years at ICBA, Meyer produced the former Washington Weekly Report member newsletter, which was faxed to her late every Thursday afternoon. ICBA’s Xerox fax machine then would churn out a barely legible document sent from our Washington, D.C. office, transmitting at about seven minutes per page. Meyer would recreate the document on a typewriter and then have it mass produced on an offset printing press. That same day she would see to it that all 15,000 copies of the newsletter were folded, inserted into envelopes and stamped before being sorted by ZIP codes and placed into gunny-sack postal bags.
Then a few dozen bags filled with the newsletters would be hauled in the trunk of a staff member’s car down to the post office in Sauk Centre, Minn. She would oversee this process every week, rarely taking a sick day or scheduling a vacation on a Thursday or Friday, respecting the important role she played in helping to keep members informed.
—Mark Raitor, ICBA chief operating officer
At ICBA, there are milestones and then there are Milestones!
On July 6, Diane Meyer celebrates her 50th anniversary with ICBA. In the same year that America sent troops to Vietnam, Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala. march for civil rights, that the Beatles invaded America and the “Sound of Music” debuted in movie theaters, she joined the staff of the Independent Community Bankers of America (called the Independent Bankers Association of America when Meyer first joined the association).
From desktop computers and Internet banking to the emergence of coast-to-coast megabanks, Meyer has witnessed firsthand a remarkable number of changes within the association and the community banking business sector. Starting soon after her high-school graduation, she first worked as secretary to Bill McDonald, editor of Independent Banker, and as a general assistant. Today, she is the office manager and supervisor for the production center in Sauk Centre, Minn., keeping the numerous print and mailing projects moving. She also serves as a backup receptionist for ICBA’s phone system.
“For 50 years Diane has worked quietly behind the scenes efficiently organizing ICBA’s production facility in its Sauk Centre office,” offers Mark Raitor, ICBA chief operating officer, who has worked with her for more than three decades. “During her tenure she has personally created hundreds of thousands of books for ICBA board meetings and educational seminars.”
A Technology Wave
One of the most revolutionary changes at ICBA that Meyer experienced was the development of computers and office technology—particularly those that have transformed the creation, printing and mailing of documents. ICBA was always ahead of the curve in finding the newest and best way to process information and documents, she says. In 1982, ICBA purchased its first mainframe system.
“We went from shorthand to manual typewriters to electric typewriters,” Meyer recalls. “Then computers came onto the scene and made a huge difference in the efficiency of our work.”
Technology isn’t the only dramatic change of the last 50 years, especially when it comes to member services. “One of the biggest benefits ICBA now offers members is its large D.C. presence, which helps members immensely with regulatory issues,” Meyer says. “From Sauk Centre, one of the biggest benefits is the educational offerings. We have really good programs.”
Meyer’s colleagues at ICBA praise and admire her as a precise, extremely organized worker, who is adept at managing a welter of details and deadlines for multiple projects all at once. The association’s Sauk Centre production hub employs 11 full-time and part-time people. The team creates and distributes a range of internal and external documents, everything from ICBA newsletters and promotional pieces to membership reports and a staff directory that the association’s leadership and staff rely on.
Since Meyer started with ICBA in 1965, the association has grown from an office of approximately 10 people in Sauk Centre to today’s staff of 170 spread across offices nationwide. “It was a gradual change,” she says, which began when the association’s headquarters moved to Washington for advocacy and when member programs began to grow into areas such as professional development, products and services, and conferences.
Looking back when there were more than 13,000 community banks to serve, Meyer remembers that letters and mailings had to be typed, addressed and stuffed individually. “We have progressed from the addressograph to sophisticated computer systems. Now everything is computerized. You don’t see the hands-on manual work we used to do in our processing center, except in rare cases,” she says.
“She has always been passionate about community banks and in helping to keep members up-to-date on the ever-changing industry,” Raitor says. “She transitioned over time with the technologies, always working to make sure that Sauk Centre office operations ran smoothly.”
Today, the Sauk Centre production center contains black-and-white and color copiers, document folders, a machine to prepare bulk mail packages for shipment and a computer-driven addresser for envelopes. This technology cuts production time from days to hours and, occasionally, just a few minutes.
And, of course, the volume of communications has increased with changing technology, program growth and the evolving role of the association.
Looking back, Meyer says there were constructive and challenging and bad aspects in all the changes, including the various technologies she learned and taught others to use. But the central goal of her fast-paced work remains the same, she says—to keep the nation’s community banks healthy, thriving and informed.
“I would say for the most part, [technology] has taken us forward in a good manner, and it has helped us to reach a lot more people,” she says.
Andrea Knotts Bona (email@example.com) is ICBA vice president of marketing.