From the January 24, 2000 issue of The State Journal
by Keith Arnold
One might get the feeling Diane Slaughter, APR, CAE, is one association leader who likes her alphabet soup — a lot of it.
She is director or executive director of WVSAE (West Virginia Society of Association Executives), PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) – West Virginia Chapter and WVAO (West Virginia Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Inc.).
And all of this takes place out of her modest, two-story home perched atop a knoll overlooking Interstate 77. She operates under the name of Homestead Communications.
As soon as you enter the Homestead complex, you are greeted immediately by Slaughter’s director of security, BJ, and director of personnel, Peabody.
Watch out for Peabody, a Basset hound/Labrador mix, though, Slaughter warned; you’ll be licked until you’re soaking wet. BJ, a Newfoundland/Chow mix, is a little more reserved.
“I’ve gotten spoiled, having the dogs here,” she said, watching them from the deck attached to one end of the house. “I can sit out on the porch or on the deck and do my work, as long as I have the phone nearby.”
However, Slaughter makes sure not to let the niceties of home get in the way of her job(s). She’s constantly on the telephone with association presidents or other clients, working on projects.
“I work incredibly hard,” she said. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”
But the self-proclaimed perfectionist said she wouldn’t trade her current situation for anything in the world.
“I have the joy of working with people and a variety of organizations and causes that I respect very much,” she said. “I can pick and choose who I’ll work with.”
With a background in journalism and public relations, the Marshall University graduate got her start in retail advertising at The Diamond Department Store in Charleston.
“When The Diamond closed, we were the first department they laid off,” she said. As she left the store, she was met by a barrage of television news reporters inquiring about the closure. “The second question I was asked was ‘what was I going to do (after losing my job)?’ and I told the reporter, ‘I’m going to go apply for your job.'”
Slaughter jokes to this day she doesn’t understand why that comment didn’t make it on the six o’clock news.
Following the layoff, she went to work for the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants for about 10 years. And in February 1993, Slaughter said the opportunity to start her own agency and operate full-time came about.
“And I haven’t looked back,” she said.
No reason to, because Slaughter has enjoyed what she’s done since then.
“I have fun,” she said. “Yeah, I gripe. I complain. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
In addition to her regular clients and the three associations, Slaughter has allowed herself to work two pro bono accounts a year. Most recently she has worked with the Charleston YWCA and the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department.
“That gives me the opportunity to work for causes I believe in,” she said.
In her work with the executive committee of the YWCA, Slaughter said it has been a “learning experience, a growing experience.”
Additionally, she has met some very dynamic women.
“The work of the (organization) is so important to the community and to the families and children of the community,” Slaughter said.
As for the fire department, she said the volunteers working on the force are some of the greatest unsung heroes around.
“They don’t get paid,” she said. “They have the same level of training that paid firefighters must have. They have day jobs. And most of those guys can’t remember the last time they spent a holiday or a birthday with their family.
“I’m blessed to work with so many wonderful people.”
When Slaughter isn’t working, she said she enjoys “playing” in the garden.
“And I love to make things,” she said.
The artisan in her comes from her mother’s side of the family, Slaughter said.
“I come from a family of talented and creative women,” she said. “And you feel an obligation not to give those (skills) up.”
In the next few years to come, Slaughter hopes to continue the success of her business.
“I want to keep doing this,” she said. “I would perhaps like to expand the agency a little further into areas of the Web and technology, which is where it’s going. Not to replace the way business is done now, but to supplement and complement.”