Diana Woodbridge is the former executive director of Home Repair Resource Center, a community-based nonprofit that works to maintain and strengthen the houses of Cleveland Heights to support the community’s rich diversity. HRRC’s commitment to healthy and sustainably housing now extends to neighboring communities in the Northeast Ohio region as well. The organization began in 1971 as the Forest Hill Church Housing Corporation, an outgrowth of the mission commitment of the Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Diana has been part of HRRC since its inception 35 years ago, first as founding trustee and volunteer housing counselor, then in 1975 as part-time staff and finally as the organization’s first director.
Diana has been involved in her community in a variety of ways over the years. Major commitments include serving as a member of the Greater Cleveland Roundtable’s Insurance Redlining Task Force (1997-1998), as chair of a council-appointed housing advisory task force in Cleveland Heights (1988-1989), as trustee of the Reaching Heights Public Education Foundation (1991-1997) and as Elder, Deacon and Clerk of Session at Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian. Currently, Diana serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Cleveland Heights and is on the Core Team for her church’s participation in Greater Cleveland Congregations, a coalition of faith-based congregations working for social justice and system change.
Diana received the Frances Payne Bolton Award from the Junior League of Cleveland for outstanding contributions in her field (1993), the Shield Award from Delta Gamma Fraternity for community involvement and leadership and the Bernice E. Lott Award from Heights Community Congress in 1989 for the outstanding citizen of Cleveland Heights-University Heights.
How did you discover SVP?
An invitation from Jim and Debbie Vail to a “get acquainted party.”
Why did you join SVP?
Several reasons: the professionalism of the staff, the opportunity to be involved in decision-making, the collective giving that maximizes my donation, and the collegiality of the partners. I love the idea of donating time as well as money.
What project are you working on with SVP?
I want to do the Investment Team again, I will attend the A Team for NAC and Magnolia Place when I can and I plan to be a coach for one of Edwin’s students.
What has been a significant/moving experience at SVP?
The impact that SVP had on the ED’s of the organizations that participated in bigBang. The growth that occurred in their ability to present the mission of their organization was astounding. Proof that we do more than give money! Proof of the amazing abilities of SVP Partners.
What inspires your passion for philanthropy?
Not sure — but it includes my faith that calls me to care for my neighbor, experiences where I have witnessed discrimination against others on basis of race, religion, sexual orientation etc., and just plain a recognition of the blessings in my life.
What social issue are you most passionate about?
Racism/racial justice; the escalating income gap between the rich and the poor.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to social change?
I wish I knew.
What is your favorite place in Cleveland?
Depends on my mood. I love the Metro Parks, the collection of restaurants on Lee Road, Playhouse Square etc.What makes Cleveland special?
If you were to spend a day in the Greater Cleveland area, what would you do?
Oh my, there are so many choices. If I’m showing someone my city, I would tour some of our historic old homes, show new developments, for example, the flats and the plans for downtown. I’d visit at least one of the museums at University Circle, find an interesting restaurant for lunch and a different one for dinner. Lots of choices there. I might also visit the Garfield Monument, with its history and incredible view of the city, as well as the Wade Chapel. If time, we might take in a play or concert. One day is not enough.
What makes Cleveland special?
University Circle — all the arts and culture that are available to us, way more than in other cities of similar size. Our people — all the wonderful diversity, the friendliness. We have the Lake, admittedly we haven’t used it as we might — but hopefully that’s coming. All that and more, plus the cost of living is much less here!
What are your hopes for Cleveland?
It gets known and appreciated for all its assets; we attract jobs for the unemployed, poverty is drastically reduced, people move back to the city and our inner suburbs.
Besides SVP, in what other ways are you involved in the Cleveland area?
I am on the Planning Commission for the City of Cleveland Heights, active in my church (Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian and through that am now on the Strategy Team for Greater Cleveland Congregations.
If you could have lunch with anyone, whom would you choose?
That’s hard. Perhaps Rosa Parks. I’d be curious to learn more about how she got the courage to do what she did. If a living person, perhaps Elizabeth Warren.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
If you had the opportunity to do something spontaneous, what would you do?
Hop a bus or train or plane and go to somewhere for a couple of days, New York City, Chicago or Charlotte perhaps.
Or, I would throw a come as you are party. I have always wanted to do that.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Who is your favorite musical artist?
No favorite, but I like Harry Chapin, Donovan, and a whole host of the 60’s artists and their music.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I have traveled some incredible places. Of all those, the Netherlands in spring was tops. I would love yet to go to Spain. In the US, I would choose the northwest, especially Oregon and I would love to take the train across Canada.
What was your childhood dream job?
I don’t think I had one, or at least I don’t remember having one.