Diane R. Irvin, B.A., B.S. Co-Founder
Diane R. Irvin was raised throughout the deep South, and earned her B.A. in English, with a minor in Education, from Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Having grown up in segregated neighborhoods, she knew little about African American life until she began teaching seventh grade in an all-black school in rural Louisiana. There she learned much about systemic racism, the socio-economic suppression and exploitation of African Americans, and the inferior schools and social systems that limit their choices. Mostly, she learned that her passion was outside of the classroom, in social work.
She then moved to Colorado, where she earned a B.S. in Sociology from Colorado State University, and began working for a county department of Social Services. Her caseload focused on families and victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Diane was drawn to community organizing in her largely Hispanic Denver neighborhood where she co-founded an active neighborhood association. She motivated and empowered residents to close five disreputable bars, obtain Historic Landmark status for a school to prevent its demolition, eliminate gang-generated graffiti, and shut down drug houses. The bilingual neighborhood newsletter she helped to start was a powerful community organizing tool.
In her column for a local bilingual newspaper, she confronted public officials for diverting a $26 million dollar grant away from the poor neighborhood for which it was designated, and for failing to provide quality city services to minority neighborhoods.
In 1988, Diane co-founded a human resource and organizational development firm that, among its services, conducted employee exit interviews for companies in thirty countries and nine languages. Each company’s combined data produced a turnover report that helped its management improve working conditions. Besides retaining talent they had invested in, these companies benefitted by increasing employee commitment and engagement. This led to greater productivity, reduced the company’s high cost of turnover, and increased profits. She left that company to its co-founder after twenty-seven years.
In 2017, Diane founded 3 R’s, LLC, which provides management and leadership services for before- and after-school care providers for K-8 children in the schools they attend. The organization actively seeks parents who need financial assistance for childcare, and some families they serve are homeless. The staff also offers community-based bilingual care in schools where Spanish is the primary language.
Willem O’Reilly, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Co-Founder
Willem O’Reilly attended public and Catholic schools in Chicago and Northern Illinois. The oldest of fourteen children, Willem received support to attend the University of Notre Dame from Lyndon Johnson’s anti-poverty Educational Opportunity Program. At N.D. he earned a B.S. in Mathematics. Next he completed an M.A. in Speech and Theater at Indiana University, Bloomington and ultimately a Ph.D. in Dramatic Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
For ten years, Willem held faculty positions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in theater and performing arts, teaching a full range of performance and literature classes, as well as multi-disciplinary honors courses.
Willem transitioned through positions with the Basic Skills Assessment Program at the Dept. of Higher Education in New Jersey and the Office of Academic Planning at Rutgers University. In the latter, he co-authored budget requests to the State Legislature of New Jersey for new degree programs.
He then began a distinguished ten-year career in development and fundraising at Princeton University, where he was part of a capital campaign that raised $750 million. He is most proud of his funding contribution to Princeton’s new undergraduate physics laboratory. While there, he also co-founded the Diversity Table program, which then led him to help found the Diversity and Spirituality Network.
His grant writing skills then took him to the University of Pennsylvania where he was part of a campaign effort that raised $1 billion. While at Penn, he earned a Certificate in Management at the university’s Wharton School. Soon thereafter, he left for a less hectic pace in Colorado.
At Colorado Mountain College, he taught Public Speaking, English Composition, Philosophy, and American Literature. During this period, he also served on the board of Habitat for Humanity.
As a freelance writer, Willem has created online courses on topics such as decision making and problem solving. While a full-time caregiver for his spouse with Alzheimer’s, he published What Do I Do Now? A Caregiver’s Journey with Alzheimer’s. He has spoken in Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, and Illinois on care giving for Alzheimer’s patients.
Currently, he is a Policy Analyst at the Colorado State Legislature, working with Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet on her progressive agenda.
Having adopted three children from the Philippines, and having three mixed-race grandchildren, Willem is passionate about education and diversity. As an advocate for a mentally ill, addicted family member, his experience with the criminal justice system has made him an advocate for reforming the system.