CK Insights

March 8, 2018

Women Who Inspire Us: Diane Barrett, Lead2Feed

Jessica Chen

Throughout March, we are featuring women who inspire us both professionally and personally. To kick off the series we are honoring Diane Barrett, Lead2Feed.


Diane Barrett is a former school teacher who helped launch USA Today’s nonprofit, which eventually became the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning, where she is currently the executive director. In her current role, she manages the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program, which teaches students leadership skills by having them complete service projects that partner with local nonprofits.


I have had the pleasure of working with Diane to elevate Lead2Feed and see the inspiration she brings to the program and students across the country, which is why I interviewed her for our #WomenWhoInspireUs series. 


CooperKatz (CK): What have been some of the most important factors in advancing your career and life journey?


Diane Barrett (DB): A teacher took the time to send me a letter of congratulations for my high school graduation. He had been the advisor to student government when I was President. Although he praised my work, he gave me a bit of advice that remains with me to this day. He told me to look around, listen and make sure that the team is “walking with me.”


Whether navigating your life journey or advancing your career, building relationships based on mutual respect, listening and learning together, celebrating success, aligning your strengths with others, and loving new challenges are positive elements. I love new projects, but I know that being successful requires that others are a part of the vision and work.


CK: What is your favorite thing about the work that you do?


DB: Over many years, my “job” has changed. From teaching secondary school, working for a fledgling newspaper that over time became a national brand (USA TODAY), to building a nonprofit whose mission is to bring excellent resources to schools (The Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning), the passion driving me has always been working towards a positive goal and serving with the best team.


Teaching students the skills they need to be successful adults is powerful. Bringing news and information to people so that they are informed and civically engaged is also important. And collaborating with donors and like-minded individuals to bring needed resources to teachers and students has been impactful.


Believing in the mission, striving towards the goal and embracing teamwork drives my work.


CK: What do you hope to see from – or for – the next generation of female leaders?


DB: Grit! I hope the next generation of female leaders have grit!


Whether in business, politics, education or any other field, women not only need to have the skills for success, but also the resolve to challenge and work hard towards the goal, determination and most importantly, the ability to listen and lead.


I have seen women move forward and accomplish great things, but the challenge for women is still a pervasive issue. I feel strongly that women must learn the power of collaboration and have the courage to make positive change happen.



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