Darlene L. Paris

62BBA Achievement 1999

Darlene L. Paris, 62BBA, is founder and chief executive officer of ASI Personnel Service-the nation's largest and oldest full-service personnel firm that is both minority-owned and operated. Throughout her career, Paris has exemplified relentless dedication to excellence, in both the development of her nationally recognized Fortune 1000 company and in her leadership in the community.

ASI recruits, installs, and manages long-term, multifaceted personnel operations for large organizations, including several Fortune 1000 businesses. Honored by President George Bush in 1991 as one of ten business leaders whose corporations showed steady growth, fiscal maturity, and managerial excellence, Paris has brought her company into national prominence. Her leadership over the past 31 years has turned ASI into a multi-million dollar business. The company's longevity and success have earned ASI many accolades, including Minority Vendor of the Year and Service Firm of the Year during Minority Enterprise Development Week in Illinois.

Central to the success of her company has been Paris's expertise in responding to employment demands in the United States and her skill at forging strong strategic alliances with large corporations. In 1990, ASI won a record-setting multi-year $18 million contract from the United States Military Academy at West Point to provide staff for the academy. The contract was the largest ever awarded to a minority-owned firm in Illinois. Three years later, ASI won a multi-million dollar contract to provide managerial, clerical, operations, service, and maintenance employees for the Chicago International O'Hare Airport. Paris's other clients include the First National Bank of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, and CitiBank.

Named in 1991 to the Black Woman Hall of Fame-the prestigious honor previously shared by others such as Lena Horne and Maya Angelou-Paris has been profiled by N'DIGO magazine as "a mind that contains a robust sense of humor and an appreciation of intelligence in others. There is a pride, a strong sense of purpose, an awareness of self-directed energy. There is ambition to operate on a larger scale."

A Chicago native who chose to keep her business headquartered in her hometown, Paris credits her level of success to individual determination as well as group achievement. She's quick to remind others that she didn't inherit her business. Although she admits the road has not been free of obstacles, she points out that "in this country, in this diverse and democratic society, sheer focus and ability can scale the heights."

Beyond her notable leadership and devotion to her company, Paris contributes to her community and to the University of Iowa through a variety of volunteer efforts. She has served as president of numerous Chicago agencies, including the League of Black Women; the board of directors of the Girl Scouts of Chicago; the Lyric Opera Board, Bravo! Chapter; A Better Chance Incorporated; and United Charities.

Paris is a life member of the University of Iowa Alumni Association and a charter and life member of the University of Iowa Black Alumni Association.

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