A Conversation with Diane Reichenberger
Diane Reichenberger, Vice President of Consumer Products Global Strategy for Mattel, has found her groove as a philanthropist. She is a board member of Women’s Leadership Council and co-founder of the Women’s Accelerator. She also supports the True Colors Fund that helps homeless LGBTQ youth in the US and the Rescue Train, a no-kill organization committed to animal rescue and ending animal suffering.
Diane grew up with extremely warm-hearted and kind parents, and a family life that incorporated a sense of humanity. Though her family didn’t have much money to give away, they always had “love and kindness” to share with strangers and those in need. At an early age, Diane took on a cause that she still cares passionately about today: animals. “I went door-to-door asking for money to save baby harp seals from being clubbed to death. I raised $75 from my neighbors. It felt good to help these animals.”
High school offered even more opportunities for Diane to participate in philanthropic efforts, from donating blood to volunteering at Planned Parenthood. To this day, Diane continues her work with animals, girls, and women.
Diane’s sense of humanity continues as a major force in her life. For her, it’s the kind of work that creates a rewarding life. “I tell my friends that if other parts of your life are difficult, stagnant, or unrewarding, then contributing to the well-being of others can lead to personal happiness.”
Diane identified her passions years ago. However, she recognizes that this is not easy for everyone. “Take the time to determine what’s important to you. Find a cause or charity that is inspiring and where you can feel comfortable and passionate.”
There are other benefits to working as a donor and a volunteer. For example, Diane recognizes that, from a very practical perspective, being on a board can lead to “tremendous leadership experiences—experiences that are not always available at work.” She shares examples such as negotiating a venue, supervising volunteers, creating and implementing a budget, or being a spokesperson. This work allows volunteers “to build skills in a safe environment.”
Additionally, Diane notes, experiences like these allow all of us to build networks and get out of our bubbles: “We’re able to work with new and different people—perhaps leading to new jobs and relationships.”
Diane sees philanthropic work as an extremely important for women. As a mentor, she sees her mentees wanting to grow their skills and their incomes, and to have challenging work. As a result, she encourages women to look outside their current jobs and see their communities as resources. “Volunteering is an opportunity to grow your skills, create new quality relationships, and increase your confidence.”
Aligning your life with your heart is not always easy. Like most worthy endeavors, finding the right place to share your gifts can take a bit of time. According to Diane, finding the right match will help you bring your best self to your cause and your charity. Don’t hesitate to “date” a few different organizations, because “with a shared passion, the work can be so rewarding. It’s so fun.”