ASFPM Leadership Reflects on ASFPM’s First Employee

Dec 12, 2018 | News & Views, What's New

Diane Brown, who retired after 36 years of service
From Larry Larson, an
ASFPM’s Co-founder and Current Senior Policy Advisor

Diane A. Brown
started helping ASFPM with some tasks in 1981 when I met her through one of my
Wisconsin DNR staff. She had several years of experience planning, organizing
and running events and activities with a statewide nonprofit membership
association. At the time, ASFPM had no staff. It was basically being run by our
board members, especially the chair and treasurer, and the newsletter was produced
periodically out of my office at the DNR. As the 1982 annual conference in
Madison approached, we needed added expertise to organize and produce the
conference so I asked Diane if she would help, and that started a very long
relationship. She’s actually had at least eight different titles through the
years as we grew and expanded!

Diane coordinated
ASFPM’s correspondence, event planning, membership management, elections, critical
information, newsletters and many other activities on a consulting basis for 10
years. She designated a room in her home as the ASFPM office to conduct our
business and got a computer, printer and fax machine. Remember those? She would
bring documents to me for discussion/signature at lunch or after work. By 1996
ASFPM rented an office and hired Diane as office manager, a big change in our
life and times for sure!

In the early
years, one of the states would sponsor the annual conference, booking the hotel,
planning offsite activities and coordinating the registrations and bills. Diane
worked with them throughout the process and assisted with hotel, board
activities, logistics, etc. After the 1997 conference in Little Rock, Arkansas it
became apparent that the conference was too big for a state to book, manage and
conduct. For the next 10 years, Diane booked the hotels, ran the program abstracts
and registrations, handled the activities at the conference like registrations,
side events, meetings with agency leaders, evening events for participants and
more with the assistance of volunteer help she secured.

By 2008 growth
mandated a full-time conference planner, as Diane’s duties now included supporting
the ASFPM Foundation, managing the scholarships for higher education and
student participation at the conference, and working with the many partners of
ASFPM, while still managing many key activities for the conference. Diane
trained the new conference planner and continued to assist with some conference
support until her retirement. One of the things Diane always organized was the
most valuable and appreciated hospitality room for ASFPM leadership. This is
where we would host gatherings for the state floodplain managers and state
mitigation officers, network with board and committee chairs, meet with key
federal agency program leaders, and simply relax and regroup. It was always
stocked with lots of Wisconsin cheese and sausage!

Diane was
likely the best known ASFPM staff member because she worked so long with
members, conference participants and national partners across the spectrum. Her
skills in working with hotels and other venues for conferences and meetings
served us well, and she has passed those skills on to other staff. As the
association and its membership, certification program, conferences, chapters,
training and foundation have grown throughout the years, it now requires 3-4
people to fulfill all the roles what Diane once did!

But even more
important than her duties with ASFPM are the relationships she developed for
the association and foundation. For many years, Diane was the face of ASFPM. People
knew her, worked with her and trusted her. She always went the extra mile to make
people feel welcome and thank them for everything they did for the association.
We will miss, but never forget, her bubbly personality, smiling face and
dedicated support of ASFPM and our members. She and her husband Mike Klitzke
plan to spend much of their time traveling and stopping to visit members around
the nation who have become great friends. We wish her all the best and thank
her profusely for 36 years of “just being Diane.”

“flood friends” can find her at

From Dan Accurti, ASFPM
Chair 1987-1989

Since my
involvement with ASFPM began when the association was in its infancy and
continued for the next 33 years, I certainly had considerable interaction with
Diane. I watched her rise from a part-time employee to a valued member of the executive
staff at ASFPM. As her tenure increased, so did the duties and responsibilities
she undertook. Her professional growth greatly helped lead the association to
mature into the reputable organization that it is today. The institutional
knowledge that she gleaned along the way cannot be replaced, and her talents
will surely be missed. Retirement will certainly bring many rewards and also
some challenges, and as she has so adeptly demonstrated over the years—no task
is unsurmountable. It was a pleasure to have had so many professional
interactions with Diane, and I am honored to call her my friend.

From Doug Plasencia, ASFPM Board
Chair 1993-1996 and current ASFPM Foundation President

When I look back 25 and 30 years ago,
the association was a fragile organization financially, fueled by passion and
ideas, and fighting on a national stage well above our actual fighting weight. The
reason why we were successful was because our primarily volunteer base felt a
deep sense of connection to each other on a professional and a personal basis.
Diane’s ability to connect people and make them feel part of something bigger
than themselves to a large extent was part of the “secret sauce” that was
uniquely Diane.

From French
Wetmore, ASFPM Chair 1985-1987, CBOR President 2000-2003

For the first
10 years after we organized in 1976, we had a comfortable club of NFIP state
coordinators. We did what a few of us had spare time for. Larry became
executive director in 1982. It, too, was additional duty at a time when your
state work came first. I recall as chair having a 15-30 minute call with Larry
each week. The entire business of ASFPM would be covered.

And then,
along came Diane! We now had an office outside a state agency (pay no attention
to the fact that it was Diane’s basement). We had someone to pick up the
workload and actually turn wishes into products. It was a turning point that
allowed the association to expand services to its members and freed up the
officers to tackle more policy issues. She paved the way for a full-time
executive director and the office of full-time professional staff that we have
now. Back then, we debated “how can we justify paying for Diane” and now it’s
“how did we live without her?”

From Chad Berginnis,
ASFPM Chair 2004-2006, ASFPM Executive Director 2012-present

Diane really
embodied what it meant to make a personal and professional connection through ASFPM.
Her earnestness in everything that she did for ASFPM, as well as her commitment
to the organization, are traits that served her colleagues and every single
ASFPM member well. We will always be indebted to have her as a key staff person
early in the development of our organization to help foster the sense of
community and friendship that goes hand-in-glove with being an ASFPM member.