During Women’s History Month this year, the IAM is highlighting current trailblazers in the union. Are you an IAM Sister interested in taking a more active role in your union? Reach out to your District leadership about the IAM Leadership Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS) Program .
Dianna Koch became an IAM Local 743 member in 1986. She was very involved in her lodge and became a shop steward in 1989, holding that position and various other local and district positions for 24 years. In November 2021, Koch was appointed to District 26 Business Representative.
Coming from a shop made up of a majority of men, Koch says there were people who tried to stand in her way.
“But I learned to not let this stop my desire to use the union as a way to improve my life and the lives of my coworkers and their families,” said Koch. “It took decades of work to get the trust and support I needed to move forward”.
“The more I have gotten involved with my union over the years, the more it makes me realize that this is truly what I was meant to do,” said Koch. “I couldn’t stand by and watch my coworkers get treated the way they were and not step in to defend, assist or speak on their behalf whenever they needed me to. I can honestly say that throughout all the years that I have transitioned from one position to the next in my union I absolutely love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else”.
“Dianna is a true unionist who is an inspiration for all our IAM Sisters. She is a proven leader of her Local Lodge, and was an easy choice for Business Representative for District 26,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “The IAM is a better and stronger union with Dianna in a leadership role for our members. As General Vice President of the Eastern Territory, I couldn’t be more proud of the work Dianna has done for our members and it is an honor working with her to better the lives of our members.”
Koch realizes the importance of mentors and says she had and still has an awesome mentor, Local 743 Recording Secretary Karen Blanchard.
“This sister has been there through thick and thin and always brings a fresh perspective to any situation at hand,” said Koch. “Her style of mentorship was to push me way outside of my comfort zone. Every time she did that, it made me grow as a person and it just made things easier for me moving forward.
Koch hopes to continue to mentor other sisters in the IAM and encourage them so they too can make great leaders in our organization.”
“Don’t give up,” said Koch. “Keep learning, keep volunteering, keep communicating, and most of all, be honest and admit when you are wrong. You should look inside yourself and emphasize your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Don’t let fear hold you back. You have a lot to contribute to this union. Let the women who came before you be an example of what is possible. Learn to accept good advice and always strive to look for the possibilities in others and help bring out their strengths and guide them in their journey. Don’t look at other women as competition. Look at them as future leaders. Be inclusive, not exclusive. Learn to pick out the people around you who are putting in the work to improve our union and our workplaces. Give them positions of responsibility and let them shine.”
Koch says she admires Hillary Clinton because she persevered through a lot of prejudice against women in leadership.
“She didn’t give up,” said Koch. “She believed in herself and her abilities. There are many other women I admire for these same reasons. Women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris, Madeline Albright, and Michelle Obama are names that come to mind.”
“My hope for the future of women workers is that it won’t be as hard for them to move forward as it was for some of us and that they too can be a part of the decision-making in our workplaces and in our unions,” said Koch. “I hope that our leadership will look more like our society and workplaces with all people represented”.