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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Interior Designer Lydia M. Runge-Quinn is an interior designer with Ethan Allen Design Center.
IN The Lead / Lydia M. Runge-Quinn

Leading by example key

Integrity, honesty also vital for interior designer, business owner

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Runge-Quinn browses through fabric swatches at the Ethan Allen location on Illinois Road.

Lydia M. Runge-Quinn, 59, is an interior designer with Ethan Allen Design Center, Fort Wayne; she also owns a fashion accessory company called The Total Look.

Community and leadership involvement: YWCA Circle of Women Steering Committee, past chairwoman; domestic violence awareness advocate; member of WOWnet, a professional women’s group formally known as Women of Wednesday, which meets monthly to support each other in business and philanthropic endeavors. Member of PEN, Professional Executive Network Group; past board member of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana; past committee member helping with fundraising galas for American Heart Association’s local chapter; member of Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau and will be chairing one of its committees for the Dress for Success program. Also active in Theta Theta Chapter of Psi Iota Xi, a philanthropic group of women that volunteers to help with fundraisers for Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities.

Most recent accomplishment: “I feel that accomplishments are daily, so it’s the little ones that add up,” Runge-Quinn said. Recently, she was nominated by an executive with a local organization where she volunteers for the 2012 Indiana Governor’s Service Award. She received a certificate from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels and James Huston, executive director for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

What makes a leader: “Leading by example,” she said. “I feel that a great leader, people just want to follow.”

Leadership traits you most value: Integrity, honesty and open communication

Best leadership book you’ve read: “Developing the Leader Within You” by John C. Maxwell. “It really talks about (how) all of us have leadership traits,” she said.

Best ways to overcome self-doubt: Positive thinking

Time management tips: Runge-Quinn laughs initially. She then responds: “I wish I had better time management … But checklists. I live off of checklists.”

Role model(s) and why: She names three people, including her late dad, Herman A. Runge. “Being a farmer’s daughter, of course, he taught me the principles of hard work and the fact that you can’t call in sick when you have animals to feed and cows to milk, but more importantly his patriotism,” she said. “As a German immigrant who chose to be an American citizen, he would always tear up at the Star-Spangled Banner.”

Her second role model was the late Eunice Cox, who was married to a pastor. “She was a professional secretary. She was the hostess of the church. She was active. She was engaged, she was very involved, talented,” Runge-Quinn said. “She sang, played the piano, and I wanted to be just like her – professional, active, beautiful and the best hostess.”

Her third role model was a district manager in a former workplace. “She was a domestic violence survivor who shared her experience with me, encouraging me to leave my domestic violence situation, and she would tell me how very much more successful I could be out of that situation, and she was right,” Runge-Quinn said.

Describe one leadership challenge and how you resolved it: Early in her career as a retail manager for a clothing store, Runge-Quinn said she communicated frequently with the store’s corporate office in New York about merchandise needs. “I would do wardrobe seminars for busy professionals and even take suits to clients to try on privately in their homes to turn a jeans and T-shirt store into a million-dollar store before I left.

“I always sold larger sizes first and then was stuck with smaller sizes,” Runge-Quinn said. When she called corporate “begging” for more designer suits, Runge-Quinn said she was told she had to sell the smaller sizes first. “So I just found those petite gals and sold them, and after that I never had a problem getting more suits from corporate,” she said. “You just do what you have to do to get what you want.”

What are your goals: “I want to stay active doing what I love. I love design. I love helping people create the look and feel they want for their home and space, and I really love my community involvement and hope that I can make a difference. And I’d love to travel more some day.”

Hobbies: Shopping, Zumba and floral arranging.

Family: Husband, James F. Quinn

Compiled by Lisa Green,

The Journal Gazette

In the Lead is a monthly profile of Fort Wayne area residents in various leadership roles.