Community Advisory Council Profile: Diane Kresh

Our Community Advisory Council, established in 2006, serves as a sounding board and network of support for Encore Learning’s Board of Directors. The Council, comprised of community leaders and representatives from our affiliates, advises the organization on topics which range from acquisition of classroom and office space, to membership levels and diversity, to recruitment of instructors and additional affiliations. The broad, deep and diverse experience they bring to the discussion is invaluable.

We continue our series on current Council members with this interview of Diane Kresh, Director, Arlington Public Library. Diane has served on Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council since 2010 and is a familiar face to many Arlingtonians given the outreach the library has made since her tenure began 12 years ago this month.

Diane, our public libraries are the new gathering spaces in our community. How long have you worked in libraries?

I began working for the Library of Congress as a college student — a summer job that became a 30+ year career.  When I felt the call to try something else, I took an early out from the Library only to find myself happily employed a couple of months later as the Director of Arlington Public Library.  While I wouldn’t say that I started out in life to be a librarian (although I did alphabetize my baseball cards), the profession has served me well.  It allows me to “advocate” for values I embrace like social equity, intellectual freedom and inclusion.  And it’s a career that has never been boring.  Although the tools of the trade have evolved, and the names and faces of colleagues have changed, the core missions to make information freely available and the mandate to collect and share the stories that define our cultural heritage, have never gotten old.  They are as vital and as important today as they ever were.

So you have been in the metropolitan area for a long time!

I lived in DC, raised two boys (Matt and Nate) and worked there for more than 30 years. Actually, I have lived in this area since 1958 when my family relocated here after my father left the Marine Corps and began to work for the Federal government. I attended Arlington public schools (Tuckahoe, Williamsburg and Yorktown) and went to college at Catholic University of America, where I earned my BA in Speech and Drama and my Masters in Library Science.

Diane and author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Google says there were more degrees and honors involved. Don’t be shy.

I received CUA’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for contribution to the field of library and information science, 2002. In 2010, I was awarded the Top Student Award by George Mason University when I earned my Master’s in Public Administration (Northern Virginia Fellows Cohort). I picked up my Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership in 2013. And, like other local leaders, I am a graduate of the Signature Program of Leadership Arlington, now known as Leadership Center for Excellence.

 {Marjorie Varner: I remember Diane coaching a segment of my Signature Program in 2015!}

Author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen and Diane discuss his book.

Thanks for your contributions to that nonprofit organization as well. Tell us what you think about our organization.

Marjorie Varner reached out to me shortly after I became Library Director and invited me to serve on the Community Advisory Council. Indeed, the mission of Encore Learning is closely aligned with the role of the public library. We both promote lifelong learning and encourage the young and the not so young to be curious and open to new paths. Over the years, Arlington Library has benefited from a close relationship with Encore Learning. We host programs and classes each month; sometimes we co-sponsor and sometimes we don’t. Encore Learning’s use of the library reinforces our commitment to helping citizens become the best they can be.  And the wide range of class offerings taught by experts in their fields reminds us all of how fortunate we are to live or work in this smart and caring community.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t running Arlington’s library system? Where would we find you on the weekend or on vacation?

Downtime for me is filled with taking photos (the iPhone camera is amazing), singing with a semi-professional choral group, and creating mixed media collages and assemblages.  And when I’m not working on my own projects, I enjoy going to the theater and art galleries, eating at the latest pescaterians-friendly restaurants or spending time outdoors with my wife, Colleen Donnelly.  She grew up in upstate New York near the Canadian border and we spend a couple of weeks each summer hiking in the High Peaks of the Adirondack mountains or canoeing.   

Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin, at a book talk with Diane.

Sounds like you stay busy even when you are away from the job! What would you delve into if you were an Encore Learning member?

I love to read (an occupational hazard) and am interested in many of the subject areas Encore Learning offers, especially those focusing on the arts. I also enjoy politics and current events and relish keeping up with what’s happening across the Potomac. I hope to be able to teach a class or two someday for Encore Learning. I have always enjoyed teaching and it would be a fun and interesting way for me to give back to a community that has given me so much.

We are passing your name right along to our Academic Programs Committee. Let’s add another title to your list: Instructor, Encore Learning. Thanks so much!

Photos courtesy Diane Kresh.

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