Dianne Lystlund: Developing Leaders for the Future
As a Claims Reserve Manager at Allstate, Dianne Lystlund manages complex reserve accounting processes and programs that help ensure the company can meet its financial goals. So, it comes as no surprise that when you meet her, scared and confused are not traits you would associate with her. But growing up as the daughter of immigrants in Waukegan, Illinois, she remembers feeling that way often.
After arriving from Puerto Rico to Illinois with her family, she joined school knowing only Spanish, and without much help to transition into a full English-speaking environment — bilingual programs were not widely available in schools then.
“I remember the first day when my mom and dad walked me to school,” she said. “I didn’t understand a word.”
But when a third-grade teacher took an interest in her, things started to change. Dianne was chosen to participate in a summer enrichment program that exposed her to disciplines such as poetry and play writing, and, by the time she started high school, she had gained some confidence to navigate her new surroundings.
“That program opened up the world to me,” Dianne said.
While Dianne and her siblings made their way through school, her mom made time to continue her own education and obtained her high school diploma. After graduating, she became a quality inspector for a pharmaceutical firm and joined the Puerto Rican Society, a community-based organization in the Waukegan area. In the meantime, she continued being a full-time mom.
“My mom’s tenacity was definitely an inspiration,” Dianne said. “So was her involvement in the community.”
As for her own involvement with the community, Dianne’s included being a founder of the first Latino student club in her high school and becoming a member of several students’ associations in college — from which she was the first in her family to graduate and obtain a professional designation.
Dianne’s commitment to her community continued into her professional career. In 1995, she was one of the founding members of the Professional Latino Allstate Network (PLAN), a professional resource group at Allstate, where she is a former treasurer and currently holds the title of vice president.
Helping Latino professionals advance their careers and become leaders in their areas is the main mission behind PLAN. The group provides networking, leadership and development opportunities to its members throughout the year, as well as special events for cultural moments such as Hispanic Heritage Month.
PLAN has strengthened so much in recent years that some of the members have mentioned it as one of the reasons why they have joined Allstate.
It’s more than just a professional group, however. When Dianne’s husband was diagnosed with an incurable disease, her colleagues stood by her side, supporting her through that difficult time. After he passed away in 2006, she felt more committed to continuing the work she had started.
This year, Dianne was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), an association that empowers and develops Latino professionals as leaders. Allstate has sponsored this association for the last 25 years.
Dianne joined ALPFA in the early 1990s, and during her time as a member, she has participated in various committee roles and served as president of the association’s Chicago chapter. Many of the members she has mentored have gone on to become chapter officers in their local area or leaders at other organizations.
Before that, she had been recognized with the ALPFA Servant Leader Award in 2013, and the Illinois Certified Public Accountant Diversity Leader Award in 2015.
Awards are nice, but mentoring and giving advice to young professionals — or as Dianne calls it, “giving back to others” — is the main inspiration behind her involvement with her professional groups. “Thinking about the difference these young people can make in 10 or 20 years from now is exciting to me,” she said.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of professional role models who looked like me,” Dianne said. “It’s nice to be able to provide that for others.”