CEO/Founder, Whole Healthy Group & Executive Director, Change Food
Diane is CEO/founder of Whole Healthy Group, working to create a more regenerative world for all through events and impact campaigns. She is currently an impact producer with film company Participant Media (Food, Inc.). Diane is also executive director/founder of nonprofit Change Food and is board president of AgArts.
Previously, Diane organized TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat”, was executive producer of The Meatrix movies on factory farming and was the founder/director of Sustainable Table and the Eat Well Guide.
Diane has an MA in Creative Writing, BS in Marketing and a Philosophy Minor. In her spare time, she volunteers with rescue dogs. Diane’s claim to fame is having The Relay, her fanzine on The Who, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I was working in the music industry, got to my early 30s and needed to get out because I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. I answered a small ad in the New York Times and took a job with a new nonprofit (this is in 1998). At the time, I had no idea what a nonprofit was or that you could get paid to solve societal and environmental problems.
I quickly learned about factory farming and how our food system was so broken – and became passionate about trying to help change it. Fast forward several years – I heard a panelist comment that the Brooklyn food scene had turned into what the indie music scene was in the 1990s. It was a full circle moment for me.
Not quite so much emerging as emerged, but the explosion of food startups and Silicon Valley investment has completely changed the food movement – though, unfortunately, a lot of people in the movement don’t understand this yet. I feel like the divides in the food space are getting bigger.
My vision for Change Food (my nonprofit) is to use it as a platform to promote and market great work being done in the nonprofit food space, to give a megaphone to those working on solutions to food problems who aren’t getting the attention they deserve. I’m also looking at my transition plan – when and how I’d like to pass on Change Food within the next ten years as I gear up an focus more on my for profit Whole Healthy Group LLC.
The food space has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. You do not have to work at a nonprofit to do social good – more and more food companies and startups are incorporating social impact into their business plans, so it is possible to save the world and get paid a decent wage at the same time. “Impact Director” or “Social Impact Director” is becoming a new job title.
For profit food companies hold more power these days because of all the money and investment going into them. Like it or not, with money comes power. Often funders don’t factor in employee salaries and are giving large enough grants to effectively launch and manage programs.
This means nonprofit employees – executive directors especially – spend most of their time trying to raise money and not working on the issues. In addition, many nonprofits chase funding which can mean the organization ends up doing work the funder wants done, not necessarily the work the org could most effectively do.
I believe we should all pay it forward. I’ve sponsored a brother and sister in Nepal for many years now, even helped raise money to build the monastery the (now) young man lives and works at. He and his sister were orphaned at a young age and lived in the Himalayan mountains in Mustang, in a village that was about a five-day hike from a road. I’ve been supporting him at the monastery and she at boarding school in India and now college. She’ll be graduating nursing school in the fall. My biggest success has been having the opportunity to help a young woman I have never met and to see her blossom into an amazing individual who will go on and help others.
Everyone will die, including me. (Think about it. It’s a meditation on living a joyful life.)
The Dalai Lama and Bruce Springsteen.
The Southwest, especially Arizona and Southern Utah. My goal is to spend 2-3 months a year in Sedona AZ.
Quantum entanglement! Google it.
The purpose of my life is letting go
To breathe single pointedly
Think well of/have compassion for everyone I meet
It’s progress, not perfection. Let go. Breathe. Laugh.
My Pic of the Day:
Everyone should help and love a shelter pet.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about New York City?
Every day you walk out the door you can reinvent yourself into anyone or anything you want to be. And the city will celebrate it.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Green tea! Lots and lots of organic green tea throughout the day.
A cup of rooibos before bed
What should everyone try at least once?
Everyone should spend time outside their own culture, beyond just being a tourist. By immersing yourself in other people’s lives and livelihoods, you’ll find your own.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
In a rental car with no maps, no watches, no gps. Everywhere is somewhere exciting to get lost, in order to discover. In the end, you discover yourself.