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Get to Know 2012 Dorothy Honoree Diana Richter!

Tell us about how you got involved with the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.


I wanted to transition out of my education career into something more involved with social action and the non-profit sector.  After 30 years of teaching I wanted to transfer my skill set to something new. The opportunity to be Executive Director of the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen has allowed me to fulfill both these desires.  And in addition it gave me the opportunity to use my marketing and networking skills to re-brand a crucial non-profit in New Haven.


You are involved in so many local organizations; where does your passion for that involvement stem from? 


The passion comes from wanting to use my skill sets to help others in some way.  Personal social action, I guess.  And sometimes the passion is fueled by necessity.  Being involved and being able to network and collaborate certainly are necessities in the non-profit community.  And I guess it is about giving back too.  You can only take for so long and at some point you need to give back.


How have you seen LGBT life in the New Haven and surrounding areas change since you have been working in New Haven?


For me, I hopefully think that LGBT life is always getting better and changing to meet the needs of the LGBT community.  In New Haven LGBT folks are everywhere, we have definitely “mainstreamed” into the community at large.  We are very visible; maybe that is change in itself!  New Haven’s academic and liberal environment has certainly contributed to this mainstreaming. But it also seems that quality LGBT folk seem to rise to the top here in their respective fields.


What do you love most about your job?


The absolutely wonderful people you meet on a daily basis.  From every sector of the community.  It amazes me how people can come together when needed.  I also enjoy the networking, marketing and the event planning associated with running a Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry in New Haven.


Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us!


In my life, I had lunch with Jesse Owens, a Birthday beer with Joe DiMaggio (his Birthday) and met Michael Jackson at a magic shop in NYC. In addition, I went to Woodstock!  And I’m on the Board of Directors for the New Haven Crypt Association. How’s that for diversity!


What are some of your favorite things to do in New Haven?


My favorite thing to do in New Haven is work.  New Haven is by far the best city I have ever lived in or worked in in my life.  The environment here is extremely accepting, educated and supportive.  Three ingredients for a great experience.


Another favorite thing is participating in my B.P.O.E. Lodge #25.  This lodge is over 125 years old and despite its history and age is very accepting and inclusive.  From the Pig Roast to Sinatra Night I enjoy the faternal friendship and their mission to local charities.


Who or what inspires you?


I guess I would have to say successful people inspire me.  That is why I try to surround myself with successful people and situations.  In this way I have always learned great life lessons.  I guess it is condition of life for me to be inspired by positive people and thinking.  Each day it is those little successes that keep me going and inspire me to move forward to the next day.


In your opinion, what is the biggest issue currently facing the local LGBT community, and how can we work together to address it?


A big issue facing all communities is bullying, especially in schools.  And unfortunately LGBT youth can often be at the center of bullying.


Working with the local school districts and communities is integral in understanding, preventing and handling bullying situations.  As LGBT folks we certainly can and should speak to this issue and should inform and support the efforts of the larger community as best we can. Educating ourselves is also important so we can afford the best support.  Learning strategies so that we can support the entire community as needed can only bring about needed collaboration but also educate the community about the LGBT community.  The next generation is here and more than ever we are mainstreaming into the community at large.  This issue is so conducive for collaboration and gives good reason for communities to unite.


Who would play you in the movie about your life?


Jennifer Lopez, oh wait wrong answer and she’s not butch enough.  I guess Jane Lynch comes to mind.  She already has the “gym” teacher role down and I know she can represent as a lesbian.  And she has the sense of humor my life deserves!


Where do you hope to see yourself in five years? 


Still doing what I enjoy for a living, knowing that I do make a difference.  And of course enjoying and traveling with family and friends and as always, enjoying the “Other Jersey Shore”.

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