Comments from the Community

Diana Gurieva, President of the Dyson Foundation for 24 years, passed away on February 6, 2017 at her home in Clinton, NY following a courageous battle with cancer. Diana leaves a legacy of uncompromising service to the people of the Hudson Valley. As the leader of the Dyson Foundation, Diana made sure that the foundation invested in things that mattered. The Walkway soars, the Bardavon shines and children play joyfully at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum thanks to Diana’s attention to these and many other important institutions.

By any measure Diana's impact was impressive. While at the helm of the Foundation she personally oversaw more than $330 million in grant awards, providing core support for a dizzying array of human service, education, animal welfare, and arts organizations. But behind those lofty numbers Diana also tended to the stream of details—hundreds of calls, meetings and memos—attached to every initiative in order to smartly steer the foundation’s resources where they would have the greatest impact. Both the Dyson Foundation and the community benefited immensely from Diana’s many contributions.

We believe that Diana's philanthropic life served as an example to be replicated by others, and in that sense, it is our hope that her legacy will live on in the good works of others throughout our community. Diana touched many lives during her years in public service.

In the months following her death, community members celebrated the rich life of Diana Gurieva by sharing their thoughts and stories here on this blog. We thank them for their comments.

For more information, see our press release.

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From Donna Blackwell

Diana and I first met when we were in our 20's. We were living in St. Louis. She was already a pro in reproductive health. I was an intern at a reproductive health center and she was my supervisor. We met again a few years ago by chance and learned that we both lived in Clinton. It was as if no time had passed. She was and remained an honest, honorable and compassionate woman throughout her life. It was a privilege to know her and learn from her.

From Pari Forood, Miles of Hope

I remember sitting at the Foundation offices in Millerton before they moved to Millbrook, 20 years ago with Diana and Annie talking about issues in the Hudson Valley, philanthropy, solutions- it was a heady experience to be with such smart, motivated women who had the experience and power to affect real change.

Diana was the person you called when you wanted background and history on any problem or worthwhile cause in the Hudson Valley. Her memory was encyclopedic and her advice, always golden. She will be missed by the entire nonprofit community as well as everyone touched by her helping hands and insight.

From Candace Meth, EisnerAmper

I feel so privileged that I had the opportunity to work with Diana. She was a brilliant mind with a candor that you don't often find these days. The fact that Diana chose to invest her passion and energy into the philanthropic sector is a gift, and her contributions were significant. She is dearly missed.

From Jane Levy LCSW-R, CancerCare

This year with guidance from Diana and support from the Dyson and Goldman foundations and individual donors, CancerCare started a patient support and assistance program for cancer patients in the Hudson Valley. Despite her own health challenges, Diana was the catalyst for the funding and implementation of this project. To date, hundreds of patients have been helped. We will miss her support and wise counsel.

From Andrew Mauer, Hudon River Rowing Association

On behalf of everyone at the Hudson River Rowing Association, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Diana's family, at home and at the Dyson Foundation. Both myself and HRRA had the great fortune to have gained the advice and guidance of Diana through the Dyson Foundation during our project to build the Hudson River Rowing Association Boathouse. Diana was the representative who worked with our project team through the Dyson Foundation process and she was a firm, tough and fair advocate for our project.

Diana continually pushed us to do our homework and refine our project so that it would result in a long lasting legacy that would serve the members of our community for years to come. Diana and the Dyson Foundation, as a whole, were a big part of the successful completion of our goals - we could not have done it with out her on our side.

From Besty Brockway

I was fortunate to interact with Diana and her team while we were building the Children's Service Council as part of our DC Government effort to build collaboration with non government organizations, collect data and promote outcomes and a common grant application. Diana was very understanding of the big picture of human services in Dutchess County, and recognized that it  takes all of us working together to solve problems. I feel very honored that she was part of my professional career.

From Douglas Gould

I first met Diana when she was with the St. Louis Family Planning Council and by coincidence, our careers intersected numerous times -- at Planned Parenthood of Maryland, PPNYC and at the Dyson Foundation. Working with Anne Dyson and Diana was a wonderful experience of two strong-willed, intelligent and devoted women who helped change the world in so many ways. I will miss Diana and only regret not having had more opportunities to conspire and collaborate with this incredible woman.

From Dean Temple and Alex Tuller, Drake Creative

When Alex and I think of Diana, we remember someone who spent her energy creating opportunities for people: opportunities to better themselves, to strive for success, to make our world a better, friendlier, and more beautiful place. And while Diana legendarily did that for nonprofits, she also did that for us as a client and friend. She pushed us to do our best work. She trusted us to break new ground. She took two New York City transplants trying to make it in the Hudson Valley and gave us the opportunity to be a part of this community and make an impact. She changed our lives and we are better for it both in our work and as human beings.

We will miss her curiosity, her encouragement, her high standards, and her deep love for dogs.

From Elizabeth Rowley, Community Foundation of Orange & Sullivan

On behalf of everyone at the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, we extend our sincere sympathies to all affected by Diana's passing. She was a staunch advocate for so many valuable programs and projects throughout the Hudson Valley, including our organization. Under her leadership, the Dyson Foundation impacted thousands of people and for that our region will forever be grateful.

From Didi Barrett, New York State Assembly

Diana was a fighter -- on so many important fronts. I know I am a better person for having had her in my life. I first met Diana when she became CEO of Planned Parenthood of NYC and I was on the board. When she came to the Dyson Foundation our friendship continued over our shared passions for the beautiful Hudson Valley region, reproductive rights and the critical role of philanthropy in social change. Thoughtful, serious and determined, Diana made a profound difference in the world around her.

From Ned Sullivan, Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson deeply mourns the passing of Diana Gurieva, who for more than 20 years shepherded our strong relationship with the Dyson Foundation. Diana possessed an unerring inner compass about what needed to be done to create healthy, prosperous communities in the Hudson Valley, and she used her firm guidance, wisdom and resolve to encourage us and others to meet those needs. Diana leaves behind a legacy that will continue to enrich the lives of all residents and visitors for generations to come.

From Janet Offensend, The Wassaic Project

I had the great good fortune to work with Diana at two widely separated times: while she was President of Planned Parenthood of New York City and I was a very young board treasurer, and then recently while I was serving as board chair for the Wassaic Project. In each situation, Diana was wise and energetic, deeply committed and warm. Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley will miss her leadership and vision.

From Erin Cafarelli, The Children's Home of Poughkeepsie

On behalf of all of us at the Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, please accept our deepest sympathies on the passing of Diana. The Children's Home, our community and each of us are incredibly blessed to have known such an amazing woman. Diana was a true philanthropic cheerleader for so many wonderful causes in our community and for that, we are so grateful. May you rest in peace Diana.

From Jacki Brownstein, retired ED of Mental Health America

Diana's understanding of the needs of the community were unparalleled. She had a way of asking questions that got to the essence of an organization. You knew in talking with Diana that she was a person of deep intelligence and a humanitarian. Her support of not for profit organizations as the CEO of the Dyson Foundation made the MHV a better place to live for so many people. Her imprint will remain.

From Doug Sauer, New York Council of Nonprofits

Diana was such a magnificent and caring soul with a gift for understanding the simplicity as well as the interwoven complexity of community needs, services, philanthropy, and the political environment. Her values were always clearly reflected in her work and I learned much from her. I and our NYCON team have missed her dearly over the past few years. Our sincere condolences to Diana's family, friends and those at the Foundation.

From Caren Mahar, XP Society

I first met Diana when I approached the Dyson Foundation in the late 1990's. My daughter had been diagnosed with a rare, genetic disease where we were told she would never see the light of day and die young from skin cancers. My husband and I started the XP Society to find other families, figure out how to live our lives and share support and tips. She took time with me, not in a monetary gift, but vital time to teach me some early fundraising basics that became the backbone of how we finance our activities now. She didn't have to do anything at all, but she cared for all people and graciously helped us in more ways than she will ever know. I think of Diana often and appreciate her wonderful gift to us and to so many. You will be sorely missed Diana!

From Bob Dandrew, Local Economies Project

Diana was so generous with her time as I began establishing the Local Economies Project's work in the Hudson Valley. She helped me shape my funding strategy, introduced me to nonprofit leaders, and was always seeking ways to collaborate.  She was a model of servant leadership in our region, and I'll miss her greatly.

From Brian Doyle, Family Services

This is very difficult news. Diana was a stalwart supporter of our work at Family Services and, personally, I benefitted greatly from her counsel and support as I came to lead Family Services. When I spoke with her several weeks ago I did not have any sense of her impending passing, so this news is all the more sad. Diana was a truly remarkable and powerful person, not merely by virtue of her influence on the direction of Dyson Foundation funds but, perhaps more so, given her values and judgment, all accompanied by a razor sharp sense of humor. This community has lost a true champion. We would be well served to carry on in her spirit. A beautiful woman, indeed.

From Carol Ash, Carey Institute for Global Good

There is a particular sadness that occurs when someone so gentle, so thoughtful, so gracious yet tough, and so dear, will not be on the other end of the phone when you call. As I look through the photos attached, one remembers how proud Diana was of her new short hairdo, how vigilant she was about the things she cared about, and how touching it was to watch her with her beloved animals.

Max--please consider us part of your family too

From Phillippa Ewing

Diana Gurieva and the Dyson Foundation helped the historic sites of Hyde Park (FDR Presidential Library and Home, Val-Kill and the Vanderbilt Mansion) recover from a period of great decline after 9/11. She guided organizations to be more independent and strengthened them in the process. Her impact will be felt for many years. As a board member of Dutchess Outreach, I also witnessed her great understanding for those in dire need. She is a great loss but was an inspiring leader.

From Linda Marston-Reid, Arts Mid-Hudson

All of us at Arts Mid-Hudson send our great appreciation for Diana's legacy of supporting the local arts and cultural scene. She was a joy to work with - we will miss her but feel grateful for her service to this community.

From Brian Riddell, Dutchess Outreach

Diana had a unique ability to make everyone she worked with feel special and needed. It came through very clearly that she wanted our efforts to succeed, and she worked tirelessly to make it happen. She had a real understanding of the community's needs and the challenges that EDs of non-profit organizations faced and she tailored the giving of the wonderful Dyson Foundation to fill gaps where needed, cut back where necessary, and expand as demanded. It is with both sadness and tremendous admiration I lend my voice to our memories of and tribute to Diana.

From March Gallagher, Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley

Diana Gurieva counseled and supported hundreds of nonprofits in the Hudson Valley over the last 25 years. Her wisdom and compassion have affected thousands of lives for the better and the impact of her work will be felt for generations. The Hudson Valley and the world is a better place because of her work. She is loved and she will be missed.

From Amy Husten

It’s hard to believe that a person with so much force, determination, intellect, and passion is gone. I will always be so deeply grateful to Diana for giving me the opportunity to work with the Dyson Foundation and the Walkway - the project of a lifetime. She spoiled me - nothing will match the beauty and impact of that project. I feel so very lucky to have benefited from her unrelenting support and leadership that took us to the finish line. Among so many other of her good works, the Walkway is a gift to the Hudson Valley that will always be remembered. What better tribute of a life’s work could one ask for?

From Daniel Z. Aronzon MD

Diana was a mentor and inspiration to many of us who made our careers in the not for profit world. Every person in the Hudson Valley has benefited from her work and there will never be another like her. We are all fortunate to have known her and we are confident that her legacy will live on through the many she has taught and inspired.

From Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Mid-Hudson Children's Museum

Long before I came on the scene to lead the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, Diana was our advocate. In many respects, I came to the Hudson Valley for the chance to work with her and be a part of a larger effort to transform this community. Her most visible role for the museum was that of a key funder, leading the Dyson Foundation as its CEO. But I will be forever thankful that she chose to serve as my personal mentor and a trusted confidante in my early years here. Thank you, Diana. You will be missed.

From Nevill Smythe

The Hudson Valley is a better place because Diana was here to help nurture it. Her knowledge and wisdom made a positive difference and I am a better person for having know her. Bless you Diana.

From Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart, Walkway Over the Hudson

I join everyone at the Dyson Foundation and the Hudson Valley Community in expressing  sympathy at Diana's passing. Everyone affiliated with the Walkway Over the Hudson was inspired by her commitment, directed by her good strategic thinking, and impressed by her persistence which helped bring the Walkway to fruition. May she rest in peace.