C. DIANE WALLACE BOOKER
Diane serves as the Chief Strategy Officer to drive innovative strategies and develop transformative partnership that support the long-term growth of U.S. Dream Academy. She holds the distinction of being the Founding Executive Director and led the national expansion of Dream Academy while developing a deep expertise in non-profit management.
An expert in positive youth development and mentoring with a focus on children of incarcerated parents and an attorney, Diane is passionate about creating equitable opportunities for young people to achieve their dreams. Diane has the audacious belief that every child should have the opportunity to be raised in a community free from discrimination, violence and trauma.
Raised in and around Loma Linda, CA, (one of five original “Blue Zones” in the world and the only one in the U.S.) Diane was exposed to all of the elements that create a positive, healthy community that results in longevity. This community provided a supportive backdrop for her parents, raising three kids, while fighting to break free from generational cycles of poverty that impacted both her mother and father’s side of the family.
The stability of a safe and health-focused community, along with strong academic institutions that anchored her community were gifted to her as a child and played a critical role in creating a new pathway for her family. This opened a door of opportunity to allow her to reach for her dream of becoming an attorney, the first in her family. She attended three HBCU’s in four years of college and ultimately graduated from Bowie State University with her Bachelors of Science in Communication, cum laude. She then earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland Frances King Carey School of Law.
As Diane traveled the country to set up Dream Academy programs and saw first-hand the devastating effects of poverty, crime, trauma and the lack of educational equity on the hopes and dreams of young people living there, she often reflected on her own upbringing and was committed to bringing some of those same supports to children living in high risk neighborhoods. She is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to achieve their dreams.
Diane is nationally recognized for her work in youth development, social justice, and her extensive experience in non-profit management. Diane speaks around the country on the impact of parental incarceration, poverty and trauma on children’s development, academic achievement and future outcomes along with solutions for how we can remove barriers to economic mobility through education, social justice, well-being and connected communities.
Diane has received a number of community service awards and served on several boards. Currently she serves on the board of directors for Baltimore City Head Start. In 2013, she was selected as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record for her professional accomplishments, community involvement and mentoring. In October 2018, Diane received the Icons and Innovators for Social Justice Award at the BE SOCIAL for Justice Gala presented by BronxConnect, Africa Rising and the Christian Cultural Center. In 2018 she was asked to be one of five non-profit leaders represented on stage at Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” Tour in Washington, D.C. and was recently awarded a Community Service Award from Stennis Enterprises for her work in San Bernardino, CA.