I was saddened, as will be the NAILBA community and many in our industry, to learn recently of the April passing of a vibrant and engaging jewel of the brokerage business, Melinda Meyer.
Melinda graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Special Education and Psychology. She began her career in Florida as a school teacher in West Palm Beach and initially entered the insurance industry with her first job with Richard Bernstein & Associates. She had more than 35 years of senior management experience in both multi-carrier insurance environments and broker/dealer operations. She was a nationally recognized authority on organizational operational efficiencies within agency and broker/dealer arenas. Additionally, she was just the second female general agent in the history of Minnesota Life.
The majority of her industry career was with Valmark Securities, where Lawrence Rybka saw her potential in 1996 and brought her on board to work directly with him in Florida. She ultimately moved to Akron, OH (in the winter no less!), to begin working in the Valmark corporate office where she was a valued member of their team progressing into a leadership role as VP and Chief Operating Officer.
Melinda’s commitment to the brokerage industry extended far beyond her role with Valmark. She was a passionate and very active member of the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA), where she was the 2011 recipient of the Chairman’s Award in recognition for her work in government affairs, the political action committee, annual meeting program development and editorial direction. She was also recognized as the driving force behind the development of NAILBA’s Agency Successor Networking Group. Dear friend Myra Palmer, president, The Palmer Agency, said, “I served with Melinda on the NAILBA board and enjoyed working with her as a consultant when she started her consulting firm. Melinda was a wonderful person. I was fortunate to know her and call her friend.”
While with Valmark she served on the board of LifeMark Partners, now LIBRA Insurance Partners, and as chair of the regulatory committee. Long time LifeMark and LIBRA Chairman Mark Rosen, Underwriters Brokerage Service, said of Melinda, “She really was an amazing person in our industry. She was a good person and a good friend. She needs to be recognized and remembered by the industry she so enthusiastically supported.”
Melinda eventually left Valmark and started Aspen Strategies, providing consulting work to others in the insurance industry including many of her BGA friends, where she brought valued counsel. In her consulting role, Melinda was also a regular speaker at industry events. In addition to her family, her loss will be felt by her many insurance industry friends. Christi Daughenbaugh, president and COO, Borden Hamman Insurance Marketing, relates, “For me personally, she was my dear friend and mentor of almost 20 years. I loved her dearly and she made quite an impact on my life. I miss her every day.”
Although on the periphery of her vast friend group, I was blessed to speak with Melinda on many occasions at various LifeMark meetings and NAILBA events. In addition to being impressed by her obvious passion for our industry, I was warmed by her eagerness to learn about what shaped Broker World, how I got involved and grew, and how I saw my role in the brokerage business. She was earnest, engaging and warmly friendly, with a rich laugh and freely given bright smile. Her light will be missed by many.[SPH]