Akron Board of Education
Northeast Ohio, Local
Diana Autry is a long-time advocate for the students of Akron City Schools. She has had two children go through this school system, and participated in its PTA. Diana is also a key organizer of the Buchtel Stadium Project. The goal of this project is to provide more funding for the Butchel Stadium as a way to engage students in athletics and teach them important life skills. It also aims to create a tighter-knit community and stimulate the local economy and revenue for local sports teams. She has been employed at Akron Children’s Hospital since 2002, and has worked in the Children’s After Hours Department since 2002. Diana’s agency and passion that she has already shown would very well translate to the Akron Board of Education!
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
I have always been an involved parent with my 2 children, now ages 17 and 27. I continue to be a PTA president at my alma mater, even though I do not have biological children there. I claim them all. I have been at the helm for the last 13 years. As my last child left the system I felt strongly about expanding my platform of advocacy and empowerment. I had gained much knowledge and experience and didn’t want it to go to waste. I did not want to look back on my life and wish I would have, but didn’t try. I began to gain confidence and encouragement, after attending a nationwide day of training, VoteRunLead. I learned to run as I am and that I am qualified. Linda Omobien is someone I truly admire as a leader in Akron, Ohio. She encouraged me to get involved with The Matriots. My most pressing motivation to become a candidate was witnessing the unmet needs of students and families, who felt voiceless. I want to be their voice.
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers continue to be an inspiration to me, as I grow older and better understand the challenges they faced and conquered, in a time where the rights of women were limited. My maternal grandmother, Elaine, was a 1946 college graduate, in the segregated South. I remember watching Phil Donahue with her as a child, asking her questions about the topics and her patiently explaining to me. I attended citizen council meetings with her, where she seemed to be the boss. I didn’t know at the time, but she was a precinct leader. Elaine never used her teaching degree in the professional/formal setting, but she instilled the importance of education and civic engagement into all of her children and grandchildren. My paternal grandmother, Beatrice, was the oldest of her siblings and helped raise them all, after losing her mother at an early age. Her home was a home to not only her children, but her grands, great grands and other extended family and friends. She was an example of quiet strength, who provided the stability that is needed for growth and security.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
I have been a Registered Nurse for 23 years. I have worked in a pediatric setting for the last 17 years. My career compliments my school board candidacy and has equipped me to effectively work with children and their families. My career has developed my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which will be an asset to the school board.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I want to continue to encourage and mentor new leaders for my community. This is something I have always done, during my PTA tenure. I have gained valuable skills by attending PTA trainings, conferences and conventions. These skills are transferable to public office, such as chairing a meeting, chairing a committee, setting agendas, writing proposals, preparing budgets, bylaws, writing grants and more. PTA has traditionally been majority occupied by women, which aligns well with the goals of the Matriots, to put more women in leadership.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
In my community, I think voter apathy and economic challenges are 2 major issues that need addressed. I think the status quo relies on the apathy to stay in power. People do not think their voices matter, especially if they do not know the “right people” or in the “right circles”. Civic engagement is not a priority, when you are economically challenged and depressed. These 2 issues can exacerbate each other.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I am child of the “golden age of hip hop”. I enjoy listening to old school hip hop music of the 80s and early 90s. I was even part of a rap group in junior and high school. I am the advisor for the talent show and enjoy surprising the students with my talent, that I usually reveal during dress rehearsal.