Determined. Generous. Humble.
If you ask any of Diane Johnson’s friends, they’d likely use words much like these ones to describe her character. An admirable woman with a commitment to her community – she made it her life’s mission to help as many San Diegans as she possibly could.
Unfortunately, in 2015, Johnson passed away at the age of 70 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. But, her legacy fund lives on and continues to pave the way for people to succeed in San Diego.
As part of the San Diego Foundation (SDF) 2022 Annual Report to Community virtual event, the Diane Johnson Fund was recognized with the ‘Inspire Award’ for its continued commitment to the community – even long after her passing. Today, her fund is managed by her close friends, Mary Sutton and Marilyn Cathcart.
The San Diego Foundation Inspire Award is given to fund advisors who reflect the same values San Diego Foundation does as an organization. Sutton and Cathcart honor the important legacy of their beloved friend, but they also strive to be strong partners in inspiring philanthropy and improving inclusivity across San Diego.
Over the last seven years, Diane’s fund has made a huge impact through substantial grants to numerous causes and programs – including community scholarships, early childhood resilience, Black Community Investment Fund initiatives, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund and much, much more.
“We know it is a huge responsibility to honor Diane’s legacy and are so thankful for our partnership with SDF,” said Sutton in an acceptance speech written for the SDF virtual event.
“It has helped Marilyn and me continue to do what Diane was not given the time on this Earth to complete.”
A Passion for People
Johnson never lived extravagantly and saved throughout her successful legal career in order to pursue her passion for volunteerism in retirement.
“This enabled her to nurture her passion for volunteering at organizations that helped the most vulnerable in their time of need – whether they be a shut-in in need of a meal, an abandoned German Shepherd in need of a home or a child with a serious illness in need of a wish fulfilled,” said Sutton.
Johnson wanted her charitable giving to leave a long-lasting impact. Sutton said Johnson hoped her philanthropic legacy would mirror how she lived her life – by supporting her community.
It’s safe to do say it does just that. The Diane Johnson Fund has already helped hundreds and will continue to do so for years to come.