Dione Friends joined Equality Federation as Director of Communications in August 2019. Prior to joining Equality Federation, she spent eight years on the communications team at the ACLU of Texas, where she substantially grew their digital presence, communications capacity, and ability to reach people offline. Dione has been committed to social justice throughout her career, and previously spent three years as an organizer for the Houston Organization of Public Employees Local 123. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a Minor in Art History from the University of Missouri Kansas City. Read her full bio on the Equality Federation website.
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We asked Dione a few questions to get to know her better. Check out her answers below.
Who inspires you?
My mom is my biggest inspiration. I watched her go back to college after she and my Dad divorced. She was raising two small kids at the time and we were a handful so I’m sure it had to be hard. We would go to college with her and hang out in the library while she studied. I loved being on campus as a kid and I actually ended up enrolling in the same University when I went to college. After my mother graduated, she held a number of high level Human Resources positions for companies like Walmart and Isle of Capri Casino. She is now the Director of Human Resources for the Kansas City Zoo, where she created the department while running it and is leading their diversity and equity work.
What’s the last book you read?
I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s book but I haven’t gotten too far into it. The last book I finished was “Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul” by Anthony Graves. He has a powerful story that you can learn about by googling his name. The book really brings you into the nightmare he endured over 18 and 1/2 years and through the other side when he was finally exonerated and started his activism.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
I’m excited to be working on growing Equality Federation’s presence. I just spent my first full week getting into some of our systems like EveryAction, our database, and Meltwater, our media tracking tool. I also spent some time looking at our branding guide, website, and social media pages. I have a lot of ideas for new and interesting ways we can engage our audiences so I’m just looking forward to the months ahead.
What’s the best concert you ever attended?
I was a huge N’sync fan growing up. Huge like pictures covering my bedroom walls, re-watching their behind the scenes VHS tape, and playing every CD on repeat. I’d been to their first concert which was awesome because I was down on the floor near the stage and JC flew right over me. My favorite concert was definitely N’sync’s last tour before Justin went solo. That concert was so dope to me because Justin sang “Gone” and I was obsessed with that song at the time Earlier this year, I saw Justin in concert in Houston and he brought it. I was singing along to every song and rocking my N’sync t-shirt.
What drew you to the Equality Federation?
The Equality Federation’s work is needed right now. I’ve heard from many people in the LGBTQ community about discrimination they’ve faced in doing simple things like going out to eat or interviewing for jobs, especially black trans women. I joined the Equality Federation because I want to contribute to changing that. On a personal level, I believe I should be able to live my life with the person I love without fear of being discriminated against or harmed. My fiance and I think a lot about our safety and whether or not we’ll be welcome before going places and that tells me that something is not right with our society. I think the historic marriage win has caused some folks to believe the work is done on making LGBTQ rights a reality, but I know that there is a lot more work to do. I also know that the fight never stays won, so I want to help create change and then stay vigilant to prevent us from going backwards.
Last question, how can people get in touch with you?
I’m available to chat about all things communications. If you need help with talking points, press releases, messaging, or want to talk through your communications plan I’m happy to help out. I can also give you pointers on website coding, video editing, and social media strategy for the technical Equality Federation members. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.