Manchester Chamber 2016 Citizen of the Year: Dianne Mercier honored for work to help kids, families
MANCHESTER — Decades before becoming a top executive at People’s United Bank, Dianne Mercier recalled her years in the 1980s when she was a “very poor” single mother working as a bank teller on Valley Street and relying on the Manchester Boys & Girls Club to care for her two kids.
“I knew what the power of people being involved and helping could do to help get another person out of poverty,” Mercier, 55, said last week.
Now 30 years later, Mercier was rewarded for her widespread community service by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce naming her its 2016 Citizen of the Year.
“Dianne is one of the most impactful and effective board members for any nonprofit organization,” said Michael Skelton, the chambers’s chief executive officer and president. “One thing that I’ve always appreciated and really respected about Dianne is that she is fearless about bringing up issues that we as an organization need to discuss, that we need to grapple with.”
Her resume includes helping more than a dozen organizations, including currently serving as a trustee on the Elliot Health System board and departing recently as a chamber board member.
“I get more benefit out of the work that I do than I think that I provide,” said Mercier, who will receive the award at an April 20 dinner at the Radisson Hotel. “ ... on every successive board that I’ve been on, I’m a little bit smarter, I’m a little bit better, and it’s because I sit around some really smart people, and so you just get smarter as a result of the people that you spend time with.”
Her work has included raising money for the Manchester Boys & Girls Club.
“She’s never forgotten what this organization has done for her children and for her family,” said
CEO Diane Fitzpatrick. “She really believes in serving kids and families need a safety net, and this was her safety net.”
Mercier, who lives in Manchester’s North End, has spent the past 30 years in the state’s banking industry, serving as People’s United Bank president, New Hampshire, since 2009.
“I happen to think the solution to most problems that we have in our communities and our society is meaningful work,” she said. “You feel meaning in the work that you do,” that you can provide for yourself and family, and “you feel security in that.”
Past award winners have included Centrix Bank & Trust executive Joseph Reilly, nonprofit fundraiser Ellie Cochran, AutoFair CEO Andy Crews, Mayor Ray Wieczorek and Manchester developer Dick Anagnost.
Doreen Manetta, a colleague at People’s United Bank, nominated Mercier.
“For 11 years, I have witnessed Dianne’s passion and intense work ethic within her professional career, as well as her generosity in giving back to the community in her civic and charitable activities. She is a woman of action and a true leader.”
Skelton said a committee made up of past winners, community leaders and chamber board members choose the winner in secret. The board considered 15 nominees this year.
Mercier said she likes to aggregate and synthesize information.
“I ask questions even when times are good. When times are good, I want to know: Are we good because we’re lucky or are we good because we’re good?” Mercier said.