We hit the ground running in 1984, offering only property/casualty coverage and managed by volunteers from our 25 founding park districts. It wasn’t until 1986 that the pool hired our first employee, Betsy Kutska, who served as our Director for 21 years and PDRMA moved into its first office - the attic of a house in Wheaton.
PDRMA quickly recognized that to be a responsive partner, we needed better control of key functions so loss control and finance were brought “in-house” and three more employees joined Betsy in the unairconditioned attic in 1989.
1990 was a pivotal year for us but not only because we had grown to more than 60 members strong. Based on the overwhelming need for more affordable and comprehensive health coverage than our members could find on their own, PDRMA launched our pooled health coverage program under the name Illinois Park Employees Health Network (IPEHN), which was changed to simply PDRMA Health in 2001.
By 1992 PDRMA had established a solid reputation in the park district community for offering broad coverage, personalized service and competitive rates. So much so that after only eight years since its founding, our total members served increased to 110 when Suburban Risk Management Agency (SRMA), another Illinois risk pool, dissolved and 40 of its members joined us.
That same year we added a new service for our property/casualty members that was a first for any Illinois risk pool – in-house legal consultation. With the addition of a second attorney in 2000, PDRMA moved to the forefront in both the courts and in Springfield of defending tort immunity rights for Illinois park districts, forest preserve and conservation districts and special recreation associations, and became a vocal advocate for legislative protections.
1992 was also when PDRMA finally outgrew the attic office in Wheaton and moved to our current location in Lisle. Since then, we’ve continually expanded the services we deliver and our staff has grown, so we gave ourselves some elbow room by expanding into the building next to our main office in 2017.
The mid-nineties were full of technological advancements for PDRMA, not the least of which was the launch of our first member-access website in 1997 named “LRNSURF.” While users wouldn’t be able to search for and download resources until 2001, or register online for training classes until 2009, it was Netscape compatible! Our member website has obviously become much more advanced since then, and today it remains the primary way our members get the information and resources they need quickly.
By 2000, we had grown to more than 130 members and the membership realized the pool needed a more sophisticated governance structure, so our two Program Councils - one for property/casualty coverage members and one for health - were formed to enable our members to have more direct control of coverage and rates. Our Board of Directors was also established to allow even more member representation, and this governance structure is unchanged through today.
We became 150 members strong in 2009 and had 29 employees to support them. Today, we cover and support more than 160 members and nearly half our 35 employees have been with PDRMA for more than 10 years. In fact, Brett Davis (pictured in the staff photo) started with PDRMA in 1995 as a Claims Representative and is now our President/Chief Executive Officer.
We’ve come a long way since 1984 – grown, adapted, innovated and relentlessly improved. But at our core we’re still the same team of experienced and knowledgeable professionals delivering great coverage and exceptional service and guidance. This is who we are.