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Meet the Staff: Dia Foley

Meet the Staff: Dia Foley, Investment Director

Sharing the same birthday as Elvis Presley, Dia Foley serves as the Ohio Arts Council’s rockin’ Investment Director. A mother of two and a concert connoisseur, she always makes sure to spend time with her family and play some frisbee with her standard poodle, Bella.

Q: How did you find yourself at the Ohio Arts Council (OAC)?
I worked at CATCO for five and a half years, and because it was such a small staff, we wrote all the grants and a lot of the grants we wrote were to the Ohio Arts Council. A friend of mine who I went to college with was at the OAC, and there was a job opening and she told me about it, and that’s how I ended up here.

Q: How did you come to be the Investment Director?
Well, I started out as a grants coordinator in the grants office. There were five of us, then somebody retired and I became the assistant director. When the director retired, I moved into this position. We didn’t fill the other two jobs, so we just merged the grants office director and the assistant director into one, and now we only have three people. So, I’ve always been in the grants office. It is the best of both worlds.

Q: If you have a day-to-day routine, what is it?
I don’t! I help manage the office; I have two wonderful team members (shoutout to Janelle and Kim!), so they really help me a lot. It’s varied, but I like that. I spend a lot of time corresponding with grantees and applicants. I also am responsible for managing the entire subsidy budget, which is the budget (from which) we give out grants, so I help manage that and make sure we balance and award grants that way.

And then, of course, during grants season, my day is totally different than what it is during the offseason. When grants season comes up, we are busy processing grants, checking for eligibility, and making sure that everything is in order.

I’m on the leadership team, so I spend a lot of time planning and discussing policy. It’s a whole cycle — I think my job is cyclic, which is good. It’s like there is always a beginning and end. There are times in any given fiscal year that we are working in threes: We are doing final reports for the past fiscal year that just ended, managing grants for the current fiscal year we just awarded, and getting ready for grants for the next fiscal year. Primarily, we are always working in three fiscal years.

Q: What do you like best about your job?
I love working with constituents. Coming to work every day, I feel like I learn something new. I love the fact that I am never bored — I am totally challenged. I like budgeting, and I love working with the staff.

Q: You’ve been with the OAC for a long time. What does it mean to you to be a part of this organization?
I feel so honored to be chosen to help flourish the arts across the state of Ohio and to improve and to grow the arts. I am just so passionate about what the arts can do for communities and for people and children. It’s also such an honor to work with the people I do, who are so smart and so bright, and I have learned so much from them. And to have that long tenure, it's been amazing to see the OAC grow since I started in 1994 to now, 23 years later. I am proud, not so much because of the work that I do, but because of the work that then helps the agency move and be at the forefront in this state and country. 

Q: What are you most proud of at the OAC?
I think I'm most proud of the two grants management systems that we have. And I’m proud of my team. They do such an amazing and immense amount of work efficiently and excellently. It’s grown in different ways. The mission has always been the same, but how we implement that vision or mission has changed a lot. I am just so proud to be a part of a lot of the changes within the organization.

Ohio Arts Council Investment Director Dia Foley's dog, Bella

Q: How do you spend your time outside of the office?
The arts are my avocation and my vocation, so what I do socially is pretty much wrapped up in the arts.

My kids are older, 19 and 23, and I spend a lot of time with them. My one son is in musical theatre, so we’ve spent pretty much his whole life taking him to rehearsals and auditions, and my older one is working full-time. My sister and I married brothers, so we spend a lot of time with family. We have some family that lives here, and a majority live in Cincinnati.

My dog loves to play frisbee—she’s very athletic and agile. I garden and love to travel. I love visiting the ocean, New Orleans, and Savannah, Georgia. I’ve been to Ireland, and I want to go to Italy.

Q: Finally, what does art mean to you?
Passion, life, vibrancy, beauty, and a way in which people can all come together with one common goal. It’s like when you get people together and it doesn’t matter where we all come from, what we look like, what clothes we have on, the color of our skin, or our religion. It doesn’t matter because we are all there for one unified reason. It’s about bringing people together for something that’s bigger than ourselves. 

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Kayla Draper, 2017-18  Social Media and Events Fellow
Photos courtesy of Dia Foley

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