From The Blog
Sitting Down With Diana Mezzanotte
At the March Annual Meeting, the board asked KICA Finance Committee member and former Town Council member Diana Mezzanotte to serve as board chair. Digest sat down with Diana to ask her a few questions and give members a chance to get to know her.
You first came to Kiawah in 1980, when the island was much different than it is now. What’s a favorite memory of that time on the island?
The Jeep safaris. In 1980, my husband, Dave, and I went to work for DuPont at the Savannah River Plant in Aiken. For the next few years, we visited various coastal communities. We loved coming to Kiawah, staying at the Kiawah Island Inn, and going on the safaris. They went as far back as the Ocean Park area, but it was called Cougar Island at that time. During one safari, we came upon an alligator and nest of babies. We think that spot was the first property we bought in 1989 on Bufflehead Road.
You’re a veteran of the TOKI Town Council, KICA’s Finance and Nominating committees and the Kiawah Conservancy Board. What inspires you to give your time to community service?
I believe in these organizations and I enjoy the people I meet along the way. Our island is full of talented people with a wide variety of backgrounds; who wouldn’t want to work alongside them toward a common goal? Understanding our community and contributing to its improvement and sustainability is rewarding.
Off island, I serve on the board at Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach. This organization makes a difference, not only in assisting and giving, but in helping people make significant changes in their lives.
What are you most proud of in your past Kiawah service and most excited about tackling this time around on the board of directors?
I’m proud of my time as chair of the town’s Environmental Committee (EC). Several members of the EC committee were interested in addressing sea level rise so we established the Sea Level Rise Committee. John Leffler stepped up and did a wonderful job chairing a core team of 10 volunteers. The output was a 124-page Sea Level Rise and Adaptation report. Both TOKI and KICA have shown strong support for the committee’s recommendations and, as you know, KICA has identified six infrastructure improvement projects that will move water off the island more efficiently.
Going forward, I hope KICA can continue to operate in a leadership role, and partner with other community entities, to adjust to changes in our environment.
You volunteered for a time as a mediator for the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Does that experience inform your perspective on the board?
As a mediator, your job revolves around identifying ways opposing parties can come to a consensus. It’s similar to what we do on the board. I think my role in mediation certainly helps me be a better board member today.
Beyond community service, what are your hobbies?
I like to swim, bike, and hike. Our family incorporates these activities into our annual vacations.
What’s the most recent book you read and enjoyed? Or a podcast you listen to?
Although not the most recent book I have read, one that stuck with me is I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Initially, my husband read it and gave it to me and now both my son and daughter have read it as well. We all really enjoyed it.
I listen to The Drink Culture podcast out of Indianapolis. My daughter is a part of the team that produces it each week.
You live in Rhett’s Bluff, which is such a beautiful part of the island. What makes that neighborhood special?
I love Rhett’s Bluff – it’s secluded and quiet, surrounded by water, and Dave and I have wonderful neighbors. We can watch the dolphins strand feed from our back deck and walk over to the boat dock for sunsets.
There’s also history here. We have a cemetery containing the graves of Mary and James Shoolbred, who owned half of Kiawah from 1797-1841.
Besides attending KICA board meetings (obviously!), what’s one thing you recommend other members try on the island at least once?
I’d recommend joining one of our many social clubs. I’m a member of the Garden Club, Art’s, Etc., and the Kiawah Women’s Group. There are too many clubs and activities to name – various book clubs, mahjong groups, biking, etc. It’s a great way to meet people while doing something you enjoy.
What is your favorite thing about Kiawah?
My children have spent their entire lives visiting, or living on Kiawah. Now that my husband and I are living here full time, Kiawah has become a very special gathering place for our family and many of our closest friends that we met through our children. My favorite part of Kiawah is sharing it and making memories with so many people that I love.