LIMA — There's a tradition at orientation sessions for Allen/Lima Leadership. New class members match adjectives describing them using the same starting letter of their first names.
As Micki Vollmer, the organization's leader for the past 18 years, celebrated her retirement at a celebration Thursday night, friend Mary Elmquist Lane shared a few applicable ones for the woman who introduces herself as Marvelous Micki.
Mighty. Moolah. Mingling. Methodical. Meticulous. Magical. Masterful. Matchless.
"And she's Memorable Micki," Elmquist Lane said. "She will live on in the minds and actions of so many people who benefitted from this wonderful program."
A reception at the City Club on Thursday honored Vollmer for her work as the fourth and longest-serving executive director of Allen/Lima Leadership since taking over for Cher Strange in August 1996. The program introduces people nominated by their employers or schools to different facets of the community, aiming to build better leaders.
During Vollmer's tenure, more than 650 business professionals and 700 students graduated from the ALL program. The classes undertake projects, with notable successes such as luggage for foster children, teddy bears for children in hospitals and demolitions of eyesore properties.
She also served as a past president for the Lima Rotary Club and continues to serve as a Rhodes State College trustee. Several speakers noted her tireless efforts as a fundraiser.
"I'll take a few months off to do whatever I damn well please," Vollmer quipped. "I will be back. I will always be an ambassador for this community."
Vollmer announced her retirement plans last May, and Matt Otto took over as executive director of ALL in the program in January. An unplanned heart surgery limited the planned overlap between Otto and Vollmer, although Vollmer continues to work a day a week and plans to remain involved until the 2012-13 adult class graduates this fall.
Vollmer came to the role after working as an assistant director at Allen Economic Development Group. Previously, she worked extensively with the Jamie Farr Classic benefit golf tournament and was an educator and music teacher.
"She's an obvious trailblazer who makes sure the doors are open for the people coming behind her," said Dr. Debra McCurdy, president of Rhodes State College.
Vollmer's legacy will outlast her tenure, said Lima Mayor David Berger.
"Your work here will live on in the folks here because you dedicated yourself to helping them all develop as leaders," Berger said.
Community pays tribute to Micki Vollmer's tireless giving