Happy 30th Anniversary, Diane Konopka!
To say that Stokes would not be what it is today without Diane is an understatement.
Diane Konopka’s first day of work at Stokes Creative Group, Inc. (then known as JMS Visual) was May 1st, also known as “May Day.” This date traditionally heralds springtime weather and symbolizes new beginnings. “Mayday,” on the other hand, is a word used internationally as a distress signal – someone needs help. Exactly 30 years ago today, someone on the verge of new beginnings did, in fact, need help. Through a friend of a friend, Joanne Stokes found Diane Konopka.
Diane came to Stokes to help visionary owner Joanne Stokes “for a while.” The company’s very first employee, Diane was instrumental in the behind-the-scenes details of a company needing intricate scheduling of field technicians and aerial photography by helicopter. She has given Stokes 30 years of loyalty and dedication, making her way to the position of Vice President of Operations/Human Resources Director and a Principal of what has become an award-winning marketing agency specializing in the construction and transportation industry. Stokes works all over the East Coast and has offices in four states: New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Florida. Diane knows every Stokes employee at every location. After 30 years and onboarding many employees, Diane is still known for her friendly, down-to-earth personality. She is both efficient and likeable, taking time with everyone she deals with. Even with all she attends to including operations, human resources, maintaining Stokes minority certifications and all the little details that fall under each of those categories, when you speak with Diane you don’t feel rushed, you feel valued. She has done an amazing job over the years, increasing her responsibilities as the company has grown, yet never losing the personal, caring touch that makes her so unique. For many years she personally ensured that birthdays were celebrated in the office – with the birthday boy or girl’s favorite flavor of cake.
Stokes must feel like a second home to Diane – her husband Andy worked at Stokes during some of her tenure here, as did three of her four children. Two of her daughters are still with Stokes, Amber and Maegan. Amber and Maegan often spent preschool days at the Stokes home office in New Jersey. Joanne Stokes recalls “We’d take turns holding babies. Whichever one of us was having a rough day would get to hold a baby to cheer up.”
On a personal note, Diane and Andy have four children, four grandchildren, a niece and a great-nephew all in the South Jersey area. Diane’s grandchildren are regular contributors to the informal Stokes “art gallery.” When they visit the office, they will tell you they are here to see “Mimi.” They know Mimi does important work at Stokes, and they are very happy when they are able to help – especially if papers need to be put through the shredder.
What stays with you when you meet Diane is her great sense of humor – sometimes very dry, often very unexpected. She has a way of lightening the mood when pressure is building. Even if she has a conflict to resolve, she will open the discussion with a light-hearted summary of the situation. She enjoys the fact that new employees find her a little intimidating until that first real conversation where they experience her sense of humor, which puts people at ease and reveals her truly caring nature.
We at Stokes know Diane to be a truly unselfish, caring, nurturing family member and friend and a strong, honest woman who has kept up with many changes in the industry and in the HR world over the past quarter of a century. Congratulations, Diane, on your 30th Anniversary with Stokes Creative Group – thank you for being such an integral part of Stokes’ foundation.