Donna Embry, Senior Vice President for Payment Alliance International, was honored with the Midwest Acquirers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award at its seventh annual conference held in Chicago in July 2009. A 43-year veteran of the payments industry, Embry said she was overwhelmed by the accolade.
"The fact that your peers recognize you for something over and above what you deal with on a daily basis was very humbling," Embry said. "I've always considered myself a student of the payments industry, and I guess I've earned my degree now. And it's such an interesting business because you get to touch on everything from consumer behavior to economics and technology. Once payments is in your blood, it's hard to get it out."
Over the past four decades, Embry has served in a number of executive positions and has inspired and motivated many other industry veterans. Linda Mahy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Connective IQ, said there are people you know and appreciate for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and her relationship with Embry falls into the latter category.
"No matter where we've worked we've kept in touch throughout our careers," Mahy said. "The best thing about Donna is that she works her network tirelessly, stays in touch with her relationships and is always helping other people. She is a living, breathing example that the good you do comes back to you tenfold. Donna can truly deep-dive on any subject in payments. I just can't say enough good things."
PAI President and CEO John J. Leehy III - and Embry's current boss - worked with her in the 1990s, and when he formed PAI in 2005, he wanted Embry on board. "There is no one in this business more passionate - not only about the industry itself, but about the possibilities in it," Leehy said. "She has created so many opportunities that so many of us have benefited from. She just brings a genuine love to this industry." Embry's enthusiasm for her chosen career remains as strong as ever. "I've been so lucky to have worked with outside-the-box thinkers who are just as passionate as I am," she said. "There is so much dynamic change and opportunity in this industry; my only sadness is that I don't have another 40 years."
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