Pass It Along CEO going to Lakeland Bank

Diane Taylor will assume new role at PIA

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  • Diane Taylor Photos courtesy of PIA

  • Taylor with youngsters from Tilly's Kids, PIA's summer camp program

By Laurie Gordon

Diane Taylor, the renowned founder, president and CEO since 2001 of Pass It Along, is taking on a new job. She will be manager of Culture and Engagement for all of Lakeland Bank. She'll pass the torch as president and CEO on to Kurt Walton and take on a new role at Pass It Along as the board chairperson.

“The decision to transition came to me because it takes me back to the beginning days of Pass it Along, when my sole purpose was to engage individuals using their gifts and passion to change the world for the better,” Taylor said, adding that this position offers her the opportunity to help individuals in creating their purpose and meaning in life.

“As the new Pass It Along Board chairperson," she said, "I look forward to serving alongside this incredible team and organization in a new role.”

At Lakeland, Taylor will be responsible for managing employee engagement efforts, leveraging resources to deliver a consistent, high-quality employee experience that maximizes employee retention and engagement and demonstrates the vision, mission and core values of the bank. Taylor will recognize and celebrate the efforts of each associate and will start with the coming of the new year.

As far as accomplishments at the helm of Pass It Along, they are numerous. Taylor has also been cited often for her and PIA's achievements. She was named one of New Jersey's leading women entrepreneurs in 2016 and won a 2017 Brava Award for leadership from New Jersey SmartCEO, to name a few laurels. But Taylor pointed out that from Day One there was nothing she did alone.

“There are countless individuals that led the way and often guided and mentored me as Pass It Along continued to grow,” Taylor said. “Without them, Pass It Along would not be what it is today.”

Taylor said, “Our experience at Pass It Along is that one of the greatest needs we find with our young people is their deep hunger to be heard and to be understood. They have so much on their mind, so much to share. Pass It Along offers a safe haven for these sometimes very difficult conversations. Through these discussions, teens come to understand that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings. They realize that others have similar struggles and difficulties as well. What could be more comforting than to know that you are not alone in this journey called life? It is a seemingly small concept, but so vital to the human condition. It is almost impossible to be at our best and most productive if we feel unloved and alone.”

With this in mind, over the years, Pass It Along has focused its efforts on developing programs which allow teen's voices to be heard.

“Whether at the Pass It Along Center or in the classroom, we give special attention to self-discovery in our programs,” Taylor said. “To no one's surprise, it has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm by our young people. It's been said, 'build it and they shall come' and that has most definitely been our experience. The more we build, the greater the demand for more programs just like these. We understand what an honor it is for Pass It Along and feel incredibly privileged and grateful for this opportunity of serving our youth.”

Pass It Along's Leadership Development program has grown exceptionally as well since 2001. Service Corps offers teens a higher level of service where they plan and implement new programs that meet the needs of our communities. Go Lead is an introductory program to leadership and service.

Taylor said, “Our service programs have also shown signs of tremendous growth. Volunteerism soars with countless numbers of teens, families and local businesses who are committed to helping people in need in every way imaginable. This year our Annual Service programs are the largest in our history. Additionally, our daily service opportunities have increased because of the needs of our community and volunteers who continue to meet that call. Our teens have made caring and helping others part of their everyday philosophy. It has become a way of life for so many and this surely offers great hope, inspiration and comfort for all of us.”

Taylor expressed gratitude to “each and every person that helped to make this vision a reality."

“Whether you are a volunteer, business partner or community partner, you have made this possible," she said. "Our many programs continue to thrive and expand because of you! I want to especially thank God for placing this vision in my heart, my family for all of their support and love, my wonderful friends, the amazing Pass It Along team and board, the amazing and passionate teens who answered the call, and the incredible sponsors and community partners who have helped make this dream a reality.”

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