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Diane Quance: Partnerships are key to protecting our lakes

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

TWF Posted by: TWF

TWF board member Diane Quance floats with her beloved dog, Oakley.
It’s All Connected

A few years ago, on a road trip home from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Diane Quance took a detour. She wanted to see where the Mississippi River began. “I don’t know what I thought I’d find–waterfalls?” she laughs. “But it’s, like, a ditch.” Turns out, the mightiest river in the United States begins as a trickle. As it flows south, the Mississippi gathers water and strength from smaller streams and rivers, connecting them all to something much, much bigger: the Gulf of Mexico.

The Tippecanoe River is the headwaters of the Mississippi River watershed in Indiana. As Diane points out, it too begins as a small ditch in Whitley County, gathering water as it flows southwest, including from Pike Lake, where she lives. The Tippecanoe joins the Wabash, then the Ohio, then the Mississippi River, adding its piece to a much bigger picture of water quality.

Diane is a big picture thinker. As a resident of Pike Lake and the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed, she knows what happens in her backyard affects not just her lake and her neighbors but also communities far downstream–for better or worse. That big picture informs even her small choices, like cleaning up after her dog. 

“It’s all connected,” Diane explains. “People might think what they do doesn’t make any difference. But if we all do whatever we want because we think it doesn’t make a difference–well, then it makes a huge difference. 

We have to take responsibility for each other and for our environment.”

The Power of Partnership

Connection and collaboration are at the heart of Diane’s work and leadership. 

Diane uses her skills and experience as a counselor, lay minister, elected official, and environmental advocate to make a difference in her community.

As a licensed social worker, she worked for Bowen Center and DCFS before joining Warsaw Community Schools, where she was a guidance counselor for 28 years. As an elected official, she’s in her 14th year on Warsaw City Council and has served on the Board of Works and the Planning Commission. Both experiences have given her a nuanced understanding of how many different factors come together to influence the health and wellbeing of people and communities.

Now retired, Diane spends her time using two other passions, faith and environmental stewardship, to make a difference. She became an Indiana Master Naturalist and, later, a lay minister in the United Methodist Church. She volunteers for the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams, helping craft and lead educational programs for students. She served on the Pike Lake Association board, and in 2019, she joined the Board of Directors for The Watershed Foundation. 

Through her work and leadership, Diane has built relationships with a variety of people and organizations, and she’s skilled at bringing folks together to create innovative, lasting solutions to community issues. On TWF’s Watershed Management Committee, for example, she helps local organizations collaborate to guide water quality improvement projects. As the Warsaw City Council representative to the Parks Board, she worked with many stakeholders to create improvements at Pike Lake. Projects included a handicap-accessible pier, a safe public access boat ramp, and a shoreline restoration featuring glacial stones, native plants, and safe spaces for both fishing and pedestrian activity. 

That’s what partnership can accomplish. “Relationships get things done,” says Diane. “That’s one thing I love about TWF. We don’t say we do everything. We don’t put ourselves above other organizations. We know we’re all working together for the same thing.” 

That’s also the power of big picture thinking. When we work together, we create something larger than ourselves–something mighty.

We’re grateful to Diane for using her talent and passion to make our lakes and our community healthier!