Lois Ann Green remembers the late nights she worked stacking pages of paper to send to Duke employees for educational and required mailings on benefit plans.
It was the mid-1970s and she, along with other Duke Human Resources coworkers, paced around a large table, collating copies of health insurance information for 10,000 packets.
"We each would lay down a piece of paper and move on while somebody was stapling them and somebody was pasting a mailing label on," said Green, assistant vice president of Duke Human Resources - Benefits. "It took days, and we'd work late into the evening - maybe weekends. Everyone participated because we had to work until it got done."
With a growing workforce, technology advances and constantly evolving state and federal rules and regulations, the workplace has changed a lot for Green since she started working at Duke in 1968. Those changes - and the personal and professional growth that came with them - are things she's thankful for looking back over her 44-year Duke career, almost all of which was spent within Human Resources. Green retired Jan. 31.
"In today's environment it's increasingly rare to find a individual who has dedicated over 40 years to a single institution," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration. "Lois Ann has not only surpassed that commitment, but more importantly, she has served Duke consistently with grace and professionalism. We are all indebted to her for her unwavering customer service and caring over the years."
Green started at Duke as an administrative assistant in Duke's Department of Education, where she helped place Duke students in student-teaching jobs at Durham schools. She also held positions in the School of Law and with a university risk management office, where she began working with aspects of Duke's retirement and insurance plans. That was when everything clicked.
"It was a defining moment for me because it made me know HR and benefits were areas that intrigued and challenged me," Green said, who started as a benefits specialist with Duke Human Resources in the mid-70s. "It was a growing and ever-changing field, which meant there would always be learning opportunities."
Among the biggest changes Green recalled facing were the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a federal law that set minimum standards for pension and health plans. Green said the law created new requirements and policy structures that revamped how benefits were handled at Duke. She also noted the increasing importance of technology and computers - where she receives hundreds of emails a week covering a range of benefits-related topics.
Green said the biggest change will be adjusting to life after Duke. She'll get to spend extra time with her husband, Lawrence. They'll also visit her children and grandkids, who are active in swimming competitions, soccer matches and piano recitals. She's hoping to make a summer trip to Alaska and volunteer at her church and with local hospice care.
"Thanks to Duke, I've had opportunities I never dreamed I would've had," Green said. "I've formed lifelong friendships and can't say enough of what Duke has meant to me and my family."