Lyon to Step Down as WNA Executive Director; Starmer Appointed as Successor
After presiding over two decades of unprecedented growth and development Tobi Lyon, CAE, MBA is stepping down as Executive Director of the Wyoming Nurses Association (WNA). While Lyon will remain involved with WNA as the CEO and Founder of Ngage Management, the change in leadership reflects both organizational growth for WNA and strategic succession planning for the future. WNA will be holding a reception honoring Tobi and her contributions to WNA on Thursday, September 23rd from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Clarion Inn at Platte River.
Officially hired by the board on December 15, 2003, Lyon began her career with WNA managing everything from events, membership, sponsorships and logistics as a team of one. Over time that team would grow significantly due to Lyon’s leadership and drive, and so would WNA as an organization, becoming not only more financially secure but more savvy in leveraging technology to reach members.
“Hiring Tobi Lyon as Executive Director was a revolutionary change for this organization. WNA had struggled for some time to be solvent and to provide services to Wyoming Nurses. Tobi came in with ideas, not only to provide great service, but to do it from out of state,” said WNA Treasurer Veronica Taylor, RN, MS. “Tobi helped us use technology to better serve the nurses of Wyoming and then crafted a model that would not only help WNA thrive and grow, but also her own business of Ngage. Tobi will always be appreciated for everything she has done for WNA, and it will be hard to not continue to think of her as ours. She has been critical in shaping WNA as an asset for Wyoming Nurses and leaves WNA in a position of strength and great influence.”
WNA took a large step forward in state government under Lyon as well, setting new standards for legislative advocacy and collectively raising the volume of the voice of Wyoming nurses. Additionally, Lyon’s time as Executive Director will be remembered for the many successful partnerships she helped foster with such key statewide entities as the Wyoming Hospital Association, the Wyoming Nurse Leadership Institute and the Wyoming Center for Nursing.
“I am thrilled for Tobi as she transitions her focus more onto Ngage Management. She has done a wonderful job leading WNA and I’m proud that our organization has been such a big part of her distinguished career,” said Faith Jones, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, WNA Past-President. “Her impact on WNA has been massive and I know as she continues to grow and thrive professionally, she will be watching WNA from the corner of her eye because let’s face it – she loves us as much as we love her. I wish her the best of luck.”
Tobi Lyon’s WNA legacy will also be remembered for its strong relationships with schools of nursing across Wyoming, which brought about a successful two-way relationship that both educated and empowered new Wyoming nurses and fed the pipeline for WNA membership for years to come. Her proven talent for bridge building also applied to Lyon’s relationship with the American Nurses Association, which afforded the WNA an opportunity to have a seat at the national table and be part of many industry firsts, like ANA’s Value Pricing Pilot Program which revolutionized the industry by simplifying association pricing and membership structure.
“I was part of the group that interviewed Tobi twenty years ago, and she has been an asset to WNA since day one. I never understood how she got it all done,” said WNA Past-President Susan Howard. “Her financial management of our very limited budget in the early days and her skill at negotiating with venues to set up events was essential to our growth. Her management skills made every job easier. During the time I’ve known her, Tobi has had enormous career success, earning her master’s degree and developing her own business, all while guiding WNA from another state. From strategic planning and goal setting to financial management, Tobi has brought structure, leadership and a positive impact on WNA for 20 years. She will be missed.”
WNA Past-President Anne Raga echoed Jones’ sentiments about the significant impact Lyon has had on the organization in her tenure.
“As Executive Director, Tobi has had a tremendous impact on WNA, both in terms of growth and financial stability,” said Anne Raga, WNA Past-President. “For me personally, she provided wonderful support and guidance during my term as WNA President, especially as we navigated through some unique situations together. I’m incredibly grateful to Tobi for her years of service to WNA and she will always be a treasured colleague and friend.”
Tobi Lyon started the Okemos, Michigan based association management firm Ngage Management in July of 2013. At that time, WNA moved over their early independent contract with Tobi Lyon to an entire association management contract with Ngage. While maintaining focus on her duties with WNA, Lyon began seeking out additional association clients and support staff, ultimately adding 20 clients (including four other ANA states) and 16 full-time Ngage team members over time. By retiring as Executive Director for WNA, Lyon will focus added attention on the growth of Ngage, now the largest AMC in Michigan. The formal transition to new WNA leadership will take place on Friday, September 24th, during WNA’s annual meeting.
Taking the reins from Lyon is Andrea Starmer, Ngage Management Director of Education and Member Services and WNA Director of Education and Membership. Andrea joined WNA the summer of 2019 as an event planner and has continued to prove immense value to the organization. Andrea has served in leadership roles with numerous health care associations, including the Iowa Nurses Association and the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners, and has a strong reputation in the industry for dealing effectively with members, boards and stakeholders. In addition, Andrea has a well-established record of serving clients, growing membership, increasing organizational efficiencies, developing board members and financial competence.
“My stepping down as Executive Director means that our plan for WNA growth is working,” said Tobi Lyon. “The team is ready, the organization is strong and the future relationship between WNA and Ngage is very bright. Andrea Starmer will serve the WNA Director’s role with honor, professionalism and a dedication to growth and development.”
For Lyon, the transition is exciting and has brought about much reflection of her time leading the organization.
“WNA gave me the biggest opportunity of my career and indeed was the launching pad to what has been something I’m beyond passionate about,” continued Lyon. “Starting when I was 27 with WNA, I think back to all the things I didn’t know and all the influence that every WNA member had on my career. I think of all the advice and guidance that so many key members gave to me. I owe them all a tremendous debt of gratitude, as they shaped me into who I am as an Executive Director. I have mixed emotions about no longer serving as ED, but I know in my head that it’s time. I have taken WNA as far as I can, and someone gave me the advice early on in my career, change for an organization is good, and a great leader knows when they have shared all they can and have led a group as far as they can. Andrea and the board will work well together and advance WNA to even more significant highs. I’m blessed that WNA will remain with Ngage and that I’m just a phone call away. If Andrea ever has questions, I’m only a few steps down the hallway. As Sheryl Sandberg said, "It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It's a clear path to happiness."”
During Tobi’s career she has earned her MBA from the University of Iowa and received the industry-recognized Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. In addition, her professional awards include:
- 2008 named the Top 40 under 40 in Wyoming.
- 2010, named to the "10 Over the Next 10" list, which recognizes professionals anticipated to contribute to the community over the next ten years significantly, by the Lansing Chamber of Commerce.
- 2020, recipient of the Greater Lansing Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
- 2020, Ngage named as "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch" by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, awarding Ngage Management honors as one of the Best Small Businesses in the State.
WNA President’s that served alongside Tobi Lyon:
- Ronda Eagleson - 2002-2004
- Linda Mink - 2004-2006
- Veronica Taylor - 2006-2008
- Sue Howard - 2008-2010
- Faith Jones - 2010-2012
- Lisa Horton - 2012-2014
- Anne Raga - 2014-2016
- Dee Gilson - 2016-2018
- Kathy Luzmoor - 2018-2020
- Marianne Madariaga - 2020-2022