La Dell R. Diaz – ACI Worldwide

Overseeing a smart move to service colleges

Though best known as a company that provides real-time payment software for clientele such as banks, merchants and billers, ACI Worldwide has long nurtured a foothold in higher education. There being a need to simplify campus payments, the company late last year rolled out a technology platform that could make it the industry heavyweight in this niche.

Overseeing that process was a step away from the legal operation’s core activity of negotiating commercial transactions and protecting intellectual properties. But, as La Dell R. Diaz tells Vanguard in December, it wasn’t such a difficult adjustment.

“We are looking to grow rapidly, and we are tasked with adapting and being agile to respond to the business needs in a way we haven’t ever before been asked,” she says from her office in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

La Dell R. Diaz | Senior Vice President, Legal | ACI Worldwide

La Dell R. Diaz | Senior Vice President, Legal | ACI Worldwide

A member of the ACI Worldwide team for 22 years and senior vice president of legal operations since 2016, Diaz and her international team of 27 lawyers and contract administrators had an indispensable role in making it happen. They collaborated with the infotech and business stakeholders to make proprietary portal for rapidly onboarding new colleges, including automation of customer contracting. They interfaced with vendors, safeguarded ACI intellectual property and helped to confirm that the new platform complies with data-privacy rules and regulations.

“I oversaw and set direction, but they did the heavy lifting,” Diaz says, sharing credit for the process that began last March and was ready for a November rollout.

For each college and university that signs on, there’ll be a customized portal for automating payment for the many bills that a student encounters: tuition, class dues, books, room and board. Diaz acknowledges the legal department experienced a steep learning curve with this launch, but she now beams with pride.

“It puts us in the front position toward expanding our reach into the public education space,” she says. “Though we were a solid competitor in the vertical for years, it was more limited in comparison with the rest of our business. This launches us into the top tier.”

And it’s another reason why Diaz feels at home in her in-house legal role, in which she’s served since 2000.

She means business

A University of Wyoming College of Law graduate, Diaz recalls an early idealistic vision of the law that would have her focused on individual and constitutional rights. While a lawyer can make a living that way, she found it wasn’t for her in the long term. Commercial transactions being a better fit, she signed on as a contractual lawyer at US West, a Bell company that had piles of paperwork to process in the runup to the Y2K panic of late 1999.

Diaz and her colleagues diligently handled the load, but upon Y2K proving a false alarm, she and other new hires were let go, albeit with generous severance packages and the best of wishes. At least in her case, everything turned out well, ACI Worldwide taking note of Diaz’s stint at Bell and welcoming her as an associate counsel. More than two decades and multiple promotions later, Diaz says she’s yet to have a boring day.

“It’s a very good company, but I won’t pretend that I set out to spend 22 years here,” she says with a light laugh. “But it’s been nice to grow with the company and further develop my role. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in initiatives that have helped grow the company.”

La Dell R. Diaz | Senior Vice President, Legal | ACI Worldwide

She’s been part of the company quadrupling its workforce to nearly 4,000 and its annual revenues rising from around $400 million to nearly $1.3 billion in 2020. Her team has been in the thick of software licensing and the hosting of cloud-computing services for airlines, government, hospitality, health care, retailing and academia, among other sectors.

Her legal and business input factors when the IT team solicits third-party content for its software and assumes risk. She’s helped fashion the internal controls that have enabled ACI Worldwide to standardize its technology and strengthen its competitiveness.

“Payment software and fintech is the hot space,” she says. “With our broad spectrum of solutions for banks, merchants and billers, we handle the entire payment chain: In-store, online, back-office management, cross-border, real-time and fraud and risk management.”

Her private life matters

Demanding as ACI’s responsibilities are, the 52-year-old Diaz values the personal life she shares with a long-time partner. “I do have aspirations to retire early so I’ll still have enough energy and mobility to do other things,” she says. “I do love traveling and spending time with my partner.”

And resuming her former pastime of glassblowing. It wasn’t that long ago when Diaz fashioned primordial molten goo into interesting shapes with the aid of a blow tube. Vases, bowls and cups were among her specialties, and upon moving to the Omaha area in early 2000, Diaz found kindred souls in an artist cooperative known as the Hot Shops and its working studios for glass, iron, brass and pottery.

La Dell R. Diaz | Senior Vice President, Legal | ACI Worldwide

They’ll welcome Diaz back, but it will be a while, as there’s so much more to do at ACI Worldwide. As 2021 neared its end, the board authorized the repurchase of $250 million in common stock—another indication that the company is in growth mode. Among its many recently announced industry initiatives, it’s extending real-time payments fraud capabilities for financial institutions, improving transaction visibility for merchants with real-time omni-channel payment analytics, collaborating with buy now/pay later, and cryptocurrency vendors to help both merchants and their customers. It’s also expanding digital disbursement for billers.

And, of course, it’s stepping up its services to higher education.

“For this deal, and for all our deals, all of us have come together,” Diaz says. “Sales, business, development, legal, finance—we’re all focused on customer centricity as the core value. We are driving toward the future of real-time payments with our bank, merchant and biller customers around the world.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring I 2022 Edition here.

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.


Summer I 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.