Diane Hawley’s business expertise is put to good use

| August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments


Diane Hawley’s business acumen is being put to good use, both through Las Madrinas in support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where the past president has worn many hats the past 10 years, and at Marlborough. At the school, she is a trustee in her first of two terms and a parent for 12 years.

“My strength is to work with the auditors,” says the Harvard University business school graduate and a former auditor.

But, even with all of her financial experience, the numbers can be staggering.

“The biggest surprise in my years [at Las Madrinas] is that the amount of money you raise is overwhelming.”

This is a good thing, as the need at CHLA is so great. Many of the children there are from the inner city and don’t have access to health care.

“Children’s Hospital swoops in and helps them,” she says.

Besides “fundraising like crazy” and getting to “see the amazing things the doctors do,” members of Las Madrinas “work with the hospital to find priorities” for where best to channel the raised money.

Las Madrinas’ focus this year is to endow the CHLA Neurology Chair and Neurological Institute Epilepsy Program. Some of the past endowments previously raised by the CHLA affiliate, of $5 million each, support autism and simulation research.

Hawley says that the effort has been gratifying beyond knowing she’s part of a larger effort to help countless children.

“Along the way, I have found dear friends in all of our members — whose mission is to ‘do good’ in our community. I am forever inspired by these ladies!”

The mother of four worked in the private sector, lastly at the Disney Channel, until after her third child was born.

“I always knew I’d want to stay home and raise my kids,” she said, at her 1922 Colonial Clapboard home on Plymouth Blvd. last month.

“It has good vibes, and, we try to keep it super original,” she says. (Prior owner Sue Betty Hillman was a well-known neighborhood figure.)

Diane and her husband Vic have raised four children: Jack, 25, Victor Jr., 23, Veronica, 21, and Nell, 15. The oldest two are Notre Dame graduates; Veronica is in her senior year at the university, and Nell is a sophomore at Marlborough.

Diane’s dad, a son of immigrants, went to night school to get a master’s degree in electrical engineering; her mother was an orphan who also persevered and became a nurse.

Their work ethic and family values (her parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary) were passed on to their daughters. “As one of four girls in my family, there was no doubt that, through hard work in school, we could achieve our dreams.”

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, she worked as an internal auditor at National Steel Corp. Tired of being on the road, a boss suggested she get a master’s degree at Harvard, which initially seemed like a long way from the small town she grew up in near Pittsburgh. But, off she went, and it was at the Ivy League school that she met her future husband, who would eventually bring her to Windsor Square, where Vic and his seven siblings were raised.

“I feel very local, but I’m not the original. He’s the original,” she smiles, her blue eyes shining.

(Vic’s parents Phil and Mary Hawley raised their family on Plymouth and Hudson; two of his brothers John and George also live in Windsor Square.)

As her children grew, Diane was involved in their schools, eventually leading her to Marlborough, “a top-rated school nationally — right in our neighborhood!” As a trustee (and big cheerleader), she works on issues from fundraising to the buildings and grounds.

“I have been inspired by the ability of this educational institution to help young women achieve their dreams and be the best they can be. How lucky we are to have this gem in our neighborhood.

“The lovely thing about it is, there’s still a great core group of girls in the neighborhood who go there.”

Hawley shares camaraderie with the women she has befriended since she moved here 32 years ago, from needlepoint circles and the Los Angeles Cotillion at the Ebell, where she was chairman and patroness for many years, to a long-standing membership in the Hancock Park Garden Club.

She finds solace in her front and back yards, which she designed, trimming back the grass before it was fashionable. “I did the gravel before the rebate,” she notes, praising the Garden Club for its guidance.

Inspired by her father’s victory garden, she shows her cucumbers during a tour in her white tennis shoes and summer dress, her golden retriever, Captain, at her side.

She is a hostess at the Annual Assembly, an autumn white-tie dinner dance held in Los Angeles each year since 1931. She notes that the Assembly is not a philanthropy; it’s strictly for fun, she laughs.

She and Vic are also members of the California Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museum and the California Art Club.

A painting of a seated young girl hangs in the hallway, her large brown eyes full of hope and promise. The painting spoke to her and Vic, she says.

“I feel supremely lucky to be able to stay home and pursue all the priorities that are near and dear to our hearts: children, education and the arts,” she says, almost all in one breath.

The community, too, is lucky to have her here.

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Category: People

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