Location: Washington, D.C.
Marital Status: Married
Summer vacations were spent with her maternal grandparents in Washington, D.C. “I had the best of two worlds: A middle-American life and the southern gentility of our nation’s capital,” she remembers. Summer romance lead to marriage and two kids by the time she was 22.
As a young mother in DC, Dianne embarked on a career in medical administration, eventually running a regional cancer center. As the healthcare system in America changed, Dianne joined a group of high-level healthcare administrators committed to protecting cancer patients and the cancer treatment centers that served them. The group represented these issues on Capital Hill.
Recently, she veered right yet again, this time to work on John McCain’s presidential campaign serving as a Healthcare Surrogate and as the Finance Chair for Women for McCain. “I wanted to be a part of a patriotic effort for our country. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, you’ve got to be a part of the solution.”
Tell me something you learned from working on this election?
Participating in a presidential campaign is equivalent to getting a Ph.D. in politics. The most intense, sleepless roller coaster, and no matter who wins, it’s an honor to serve.
The disappointing outcome of the 2008 election was that women appeared to lose ground as serious national candidates. The way Hillary [Clinton] and Sarah [Palin] were treated—especially by other women–was appalling.
You’ve been married 33 years. What’s the secret of success in your relationship?
My husband and I are a team, BUT, we give each other the space to follow our own paths. We have always encouraged each other in our endeavors.
Who influenced you?
My parents. My father used to say, ‘when you make your money in the community, you’ve got to give back to that community.’ He saw people go through the darkest times of their lives, and he always felt an obligation to do more than just direct the burial. He was very quiet about his personal giving: He used to give money to the local shoe store for kids who lost their fathers and couldn’t afford school shoes.
What influenced your style?
I admit, I was the princess of the family–the first girl after three boys. From my “white gloved” days of living with my Grandmother in Washington, D.C. to working for my father, I loved to dress up. Our last name was on the funeral home, so we represented that business 24-hours a day. We grew up in the 1960s when everyone was wearing wild hippy clothes, yes, I had my jeans and “teen” clothes, but the public saw presentable outfits.
What’s your favorite place to shop?
I’m extremely loyal to Talbots. I’m only 5’ 2” so I go back and forth between petite and regular sizes. Talbots has clothes that can take me from Capital Hill to sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Their staff is personal and accommodates my busy schedule. It has been a time savor and loads of fun.
What about a signature item?
My opal necklace, I wear it almost everyday. It is my birthstone and was a gift from a very dear friend on my thirtieth birthday.
What’s your favorite restaurant in D.C.?
The Irish Inn in Glen Echo. A local gem that offers good food, friendly service and a warm atmosphere. My out-of-town guests who I have taken there for lunch and dinner always ask to go back!
What about a great book?
No matter what else I’ve read, The Secret Garden remains my favorite. It’s about a little girl who affects so many peoples’ lives. She turns something dark and lost into a place of great beauty.
What’s you favorite secret spot in DC?
A little park in Silver Spring, MD—right over the line from DC—with a gazebo shaped like an acorn. My grandparents and I used to get coffee ice cream from “Gifford’s” and sit in that gazebo on hot summer evenings. It was my own secret garden.
Do you have a favorite beauty product?
I use Vani Cream moisturizer because I have so many allergies and it doesn’t contain any perfumes or paraffin. It’s the best skin product that I’ve ever used.
What’s your exercise routine?
I have never enjoyed going to a gym. I need to get outside in the fresh air, so I walk a minimum of two miles everyday. Four to six miles when my schedule permits. I love walking in every kind of weather; snow, rain–I don’t care.
How do you rejuvenate?
I escape to my home and nest! Clean the house, cook homemade soups, or just throw on my sweats and paint a room.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
My husband and I eloped, and I never had an engagement ring. As our 25th anniversary approached, he wanted to give me a diamond. We decided that it should reflect our lives together. While traveling many years earlier in the Pacific Rim, we fell in love with the wide variety of diamond colors–know as “fancies”—that are enjoyed around the world but not as common in the United States. We choose a fancy yellow diamond, with two white diamonds on either side to represent our two daughters.
Tell me the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
First, nothing is cast in stone! It is my motto to live by, there will always be change. Second, professional degrees will only get you in the door; it is a strong work ethic that brings success.
What’s your biggest inspiration?
My husband and my daughters. The greatest achievements in my life are my children. I’m more proud of them than anything I’ve ever done. My girls were my number one priority. Raising decent human beings is the best thing you could ever do.