Written by The Business Journal Staff
Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County
What We Do: We enable youth, especially those who need us most, to become productive caring responsible adults. We provide youth, ages 6-18, with programs in character and leadership, education and careers, healthy life skills, the arts, and sports and recreation including developing social skills. We are open every day after school from 2:30 to 8 pm and provide professional trained and caring staff that develops relationships with the kids.
Education: Centralia High School, Centralia, Kansas; Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas: Bachelor’s in physical education and biology; Ohio University, Athens, Ohio: Master’s in sports administration.
Family: I grew up in a large family in Kansas with 13 brothers and sisters, 10 still living. Mom is 93. My husband is John Carbray, sons David and Kyle both work for CBS Sports. Tuxedo the dog has been the family “kid” for 6 years.
How did you arrive at your position as executive director of Boys &
Girls Clubs of Fresno County, Diane?
I started volunteering for events and became involved in the Boys & Girls Clubs annual fundraising activities in 1993. My husband John was on the board of directors at the time, and so I came along to help with the marketing and events, particularly in 2006 with the Rotary centennial project that renovated the West Fresno Club. I was impressed with the dedication that the Board and staff had in providing services to youth in the Clubs and could tell what great work they were doing with changing lives in a positive way on a daily basis. I came on board as the Assistant Executive Director in 2006. When our President Ken Quenzer decided he wanted to do more sailing and work part-time, I was asked to become the executive director. I am really proud of the caring staff and this organization.
What are your primary responsibilities as executive director, Diane?
I oversee a large organization with 80 employees, 17 clubs located in Fresno and Madera County, with over 6,000 youth members of the Clubs, ages 6 to 18. We only have 12 administrative staff and a budget of $2.1 million. Primary responsibilities are managing the safety of the kids we serve. This is a paramount responsibility. The day-to-day operations of human resources with staff, budget and finances, facility management, and finding and sustaining resources are very important also. I do most of the grant writing for our organization, and that is both a challenging and rewarding part of my responsibilities.
What are some of the challenges your organization faces each year, Diane?
We need more resources to sustain services to the youth in both our urban and rural Club sites. Staff has been on furlough for three years now — one day a month is an unpaid day off. We have teamed together as an organization to cut expenses as governmental funding in grants has decreased over the past 3 years. As an organization we decided we would not close clubs or lay off staff, but went on furlough instead. We are starting to turn the corner with increased grant funding, but filling up the bucket for resources for operations and sustaining personnel is a constant challenge.
Has Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County changed during the time that you have been involved with the organization, Diane?
Yes in two important ways. We have had to adapt to the economic times to maintain our resources, keep Clubs open, consolidate expenses, and reinvent how our funding is derived. In the past six years as state and federal funding resources for prevention and education programs has decreased, we have been fortunate to receive new grant funding through the generosity and investment in youth from both local and statewide foundations. The second change has occurred in our management of staff and encouraging leadership development at the Club level. We have an expectation for success for the youth we serve, but also for middle management and all staff. With individual and corporate contributions there is an increased expectation for a return on their investment. We have improved our organization and our operations through training in leadership, and our ability to show outcomes that validate investment in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County.
What is the most rewarding part of your job, Diane? The most difficult?
Seeing the results of Boys & Girls Clubs program and mentoring and coaching kids. When a youth gives testimony that because of the Club they were saved from the streets, from gangs, or survived a difficult home life and are now in college; those are the great stories that keep all of us going. And we hear new stories every week. We also work very hard at seeking grants to sustain us and when we get a letter or phone call that says we were awarded it is very rewarding, and we are liable to do the “happy dance!” The most difficult part is keeping clubs open and operating on resources and adjusting to the cards we are dealt. We live by contributions and the level of generosity of individual donors is very hard to predict, but we have faith in our community.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Diane, Diane?
My first job was flipping buffalo burgers (yes, real buffalo meat) at a roadside tourist attraction called “Ft. Markley” on Highway 36 in northeast Kansas. I learned good things like showing up on time, but also a lot about what NOT to do; I learned its better to be kind to employees and motivate by teaching instead of intimidation; I also learned I was not very good at, not did I aspire to be, cooking buffalo burgers. It motivated me to get my education.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Diane?
I love to read, swim, play sports, golf, spend time with John and my friends and play with my dog Tuxedo.