Diane Abraham, who holds an undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh, said coming back to the Fox Valley to lead the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is like “coming home.”
“I’ve been gone a few years and now I want to get to know this community well,” said Abraham, who previously lived in the region for about 10 years before relocating for a career opportunity. “This role is going to allow me to leverage all of my previous experiences.”
To take over as the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation’s president and chief executive officer, Abraham will depart her job as the vice president of philanthropy for Dignity Health Arizona and interim president and CEO of Barrow Neurological and St. Joseph’s Foundations, where she oversaw five charitable foundations.
Closer to home in Oshkosh, Abraham previously served as the executive director of the ThedaCare Foundations and Volunteer Services. Her past experiences also include planned giving and estate planning positions at Marian University and Baker Tilly Virchow Krause.
“In my career, I’ve done all the different parts and pieces that are needed to run a community foundation. This will let me pull it all together,” Abraham said.
She knows that step one in her new position, though, is getting reintegrated with the community, something she said she’s very excited about.
“You can make a larger impact when you work with all sectors of a community,” she said. “That’s what excites me. Everything I’ve worked for my whole life is coming together.”
Among the things Abraham has worked hard for is her education. A business person by education and a philanthropist by life experience, Abraham believes “education is critically important,” calling herself a “lifelong learner.” Beyond her degrees from UW Oshkosh, Abraham has a doctorate in leadership studies from Marian University.
“My master’s degree probably had the most impact to learning the business side of things,” she said. “It taught me how to think; the program developed my thinking skills to a different level. In a master’s program, you have to think and process differently than you do at the undergraduate level. It really gives you an edge.”
Abraham said she credits the graduate program at UW Oshkosh with helping her be logical, thoughtful and rational, all characteristics and life-skills she knows she’ll need in her new role.
Throughout the years, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization, has been a catalyst for change in the Oshkosh community. The organization has led or played roles in numerous major community projects, most recently facilitating the purchase and renovation of the Oshkosh Premier Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center, a project that the UW Oshkosh Foundation is a partner in.
“The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a great asset to this community. I’m privileged and honored I get to do this work,” she said. “I hope to continue the vision the Community Foundation already has while enhancing where it is today.”