An ICHP First!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
January 19, 2011

At the end of November or technically early December, ICHP experienced a “first”. Our first staff member retirement! ICHP Publications Manager, Barbara Yahn, stepped away from her desk for the last time and became an official retiree! That’s a day I look forward to with a bit more excitement each day, but unfortunately for me it’s still a long way off!

But this article isn’t about me. It’s about Barb and the 12+ years she worked for ICHP and you the members! Barb came to ICHP in September of 1998 and quickly blended into what was then a five person staff including another Barb! This wasn’t a problem for either Barb, and they became good friends in the process. Barb’s initial responsibilities were to design and layout all of ICHP’s and MSHP’s newsletters, meeting brochures and any other print materials we needed. She brought a creative flair that was quickly appreciated!

As we all got to know Barb better, we found out some very special personal information that would come in handy as we planned for her retirement celebration at the ICHP leadership retreat. Barb is a member of the Boomer Generation, a generation in which many of its members were children of the 60s. I don’t mean those who were born in the 1960s but those who actually did most of their growing up in the 60s. For those of you old enough, that meant the Woodstock generation. In 1969, Barb was a volunteer member of AmeriCorps VISTA, which was like the Peace-Corps only serving right here in the U.S. of A.! Barb was working in New Jersey and got a call from some friends interested in traveling to this 3-day music festival in upstate New York. Barb said sure, and the rest was history! The Woodstock Music and Art Fair turned into perhaps the largest and definitely the most well-known music event of history that summer, and Barb was there! As a slightly younger child of the 60s, I was always in awe of Barb because of that! I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to venture there if I knew about it, and I certainly don’t think I could have stuck it out (although once people got there they were sort of stuck for the duration) if I had gone. Many times during Barb’s tenure, I would joke that her flashbacks to that event might be the foundation for her creativity! I still think I’m a little jealous!

Many of you got to know Barb through our Annual and Spring Meetings and attendance at Legislative Days. In addition to her publishing responsibilities, she usually accompanied the staff to these large meetings to assist at the registration desk, in the exhibit hall or wherever we might need her. Everyone has a phobia, and unfortunately we discovered Barb’s early in these meeting processes. Barb doesn’t like heights. Neither do I, but Barb doesn’t like glass elevators or open atriums as part of that height issue, and the ICHP Annual Meeting has been at Drury Lane Theater or the Hilton Suites Hotel in Oakbrook Terrace for most of her tenure. The Hilton Suites is 10 stories tall with an atrium and glass elevator all the way up, so from time to time she had her challenges. But like the trooper she is, she always got to and from her room, to and from the receptions in the corporate suites and never complained. She didn’t talk much on the elevator rides while she always faced towards the door, but as time went on you could tell she was more at ease on these harrowing rides! We held meetings in a couple of Embassy Suites and the St. Louis Sheraton with similar set-ups and we never heard a complaint - often a relieved sigh...but never a complaint.

Barb became the ICHP photographer somewhere around the middle of her time with us. She took some classes and has become a very effective meeting photographer. The pictures in KeePosted and on the ICHP website are probably the handiwork of Barb. Some of the most outstanding pictures she’s taken have come from Illinois Pharmacy Legislative Days, too! It might have something to do with the backdrops in her pictures or the excitement level of her subjects in Springfield, but I think her best work has come from there!

Barb has always been quick to help whenever someone need a hand -- in the office, at a meeting or wherever. For many summers Barb would take a week or so of vacation to supervise (or herd) a group of high schoolers from her church on a work camp project somewhere else in the US. I always thought it was a way for her to give back while reliving her Vista days. Needless to say, Barb would return from each trip with classically comical stories and heartwarming tales to share with all of us in the office. Barb is one of the many people I live vicariously through!

Being that Barb is a child of the 60s and was present at Woodstock, when she announced her retirement, it was only natural to schedule a party. With the ICHP Leadership Retreat in the month of her retirement and a bulk of the ICHP Leadership present, it made great sense to hold the festival at the Retreat. A friend and vendor of ICHP annually celebrates what he calls “Tommy-fest” on his birthday (his first name is Tom), so we started thinking along those lines. Barb’s tie to the greatest music festival was overpowering, so instead we dubbed the party “Barbstock 2010”. With tie-dyed long sleeve tees, lava lamps, the actual movie documentary of “Woodstock” playing off to the side (I frequently paused to see if I could catch a glimpse of Barb there) and two pans of brownies marked “With” and “Without”, the ICHP leadership gave tribute to their first retiree! (The brownies marked “With” were actually brownies with nuts but were also lightly dusted with a green dried herbal looking material, which was actually dried parsley that was added strictly for a 60s effect.) You will see that the many guests paid homage to Barb by donning the tie-dyed shirts, peace signs and granny glasses, presenting her with gifts and toasting her new phase of life. I think I had a flashback of my own! It was a great night, and I think Barb enjoyed and identified with the festivities.

Now the good news is that Barb will still be around the Rockford area. She hasn’t completely tired of the long cold Midwest winters. In addition, she is now the caretaker of both her parents. She will still come to visit the ICHP office once every two weeks as she has since ICHP took possession of the 4055 N Perryville building to clean the offices she now used to inhabit. Years ago before the ICHP moved into the new building, the entire staff shared the cleaning responsibilities which often got put off as major meetings and other deadlines loomed. Then as one new hire complained that cleaning didn’t fit their job description, the ICHP Executive staff and the Executive Committee felt it was time to hire a regular cleaning service. Barb stepped forward with a bid that beat several outside vendors and no other staff member felt strongly enough to submit their own bid so the job was hers and still is. It will be nice to know that she’s still around taking care of us. Also, because she’s still around, she’ll be available to join us for the birthday lunches, holiday parties and other celebrations that might come up.

Barb, we already miss you, but we’re glad you have attained retirement. Enjoy “your time” and thank you for all the years of service you provided to ICHP, its members and us (the staff)!

PS Thanks for showing Stephanie the ropes before you left! You did a great job with that, too! (See the article “Meet Stephanie Lammi”).

The News Article appears in the following categories: