This is shocking and hurtful news. Diane was a force in the Oakland business community, not just for Blacks, but for Oaklanders. Her Black Business. The Globe Newspaper reports:
Renowned throughout the Bay Area for her steadfast commitment to the African American community, Howell used Black Business Listings, Black Expo and SEEDS as her platform on which to advocate on behalf of African American businesses. A social and political powerbroker in her own right, Howell used her multifaceted enterprise to promote issues of economic empowerment, education access and political and social activism in every way conceivable.A native of Chicago, Howell was born on July 20, 1950, to Doris Howell and the late William Howell. She was baptized at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., and was confirmed at St. Edmond’s Episcopal Church in Chicago. Ever active in her faith community, Howell was a longstanding member of the Oakland-based East Bay Church of Religious Science, under the leadership of her spiritual mentor, Reverend Elouise Oliver.A graduate of Chicago’s Hyde Park High School, Howell earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University. She went on to pursue graduate studies at UC Berkeley, where she completed her PhD in clinical psychology.A licensed clinical psychologist, Howell worked as a staff psychologist at UC Berkeley upon completion of graduate school. She also operated a private practice for more than 15 years. Even after deciding to devote her energies to full-time publishing, Howell remained active in her profession. She saw clients on an ad-hoc basis and remained in good standing with the California Board of Psychology.Howell was active with the Bay Area Association of Black Psychologists for many years and was elected president of the association in 1983. Recognizing the need to increase the visibility of African American psychologists in the Bay Area, she published the association’s first newsletter, Black Perspectives, in 1984.Through her work in her profession and in various social and political circles, Howell recognized the need to better promote African American businesses in the Oakland San Francisco Bay Area. Doing her part to fill this void, Howell launched Black Business Listings newspaper from her personal computer on her dining room table. With no staff and no capital reserves, Howell published the first edition of BBL in newsprint in 1989. Initially published bi-monthly, Howell began publishing BBL 10 times a year in 1990. A short-lived Southern California edition of BBL was in print from 1991 to 1993. She was editor and publisher of BBL for almost 20 years.From 1991 to 1996 Howell served as the local coordinator for Black Expo USA. When the organizers took Oakland off of its national schedule, Howell took over as producer of the Oakland Black Expo in 1997. It was from here that her entrepreneurship and influence reached unprecedented levels. Under Howell’s leadership, Oakland’s Black Expo attracted long-standing partnerships with local, regional and national corporations and organizations. These have included Citibank, Wells Fargo, Comcast, State Farm, Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Macy’s, KBLX, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Safeway, BART, the county of Alameda and the Port of Oakland, among many others.In 1995 Howell expanded the Black Expo to include the annual African American Excellence in Business Awards and Scholarship Gala. Over the years, this program has recognized the accomplishments of hundreds of small businesses, corporations, political leaders and everyday people making a difference in their communities. A steadfast supporter and advocate of educational opportunities for young people, Howell established the nonprofit, SEEDS (Self-Empowerment though Education, Entrepreneurship & Dreams) in 2000. Since its inception, SEEDS has awarded more than $25,000 in scholarships supporting the educational aspirations of local youth.Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums was among many who paid tribute to Howell upon learning of her passing. “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. C. Diane Howell, who meant so much to our community as a leader, friend and pioneer of social entrepreneurship,” said Dellums. “She was a tireless advocate for the African American community and small business owners. Dr. Howell empowered the community and helped all whom she touched to realize their potential. We shared a common bond through our training as psychologists and often times joined in establishing values and principles which served a moral purpose for the betterment of our community.”Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who was a regular columnist in Black Business Listings, paid tribute to Dr. Howell as a “beacon of optimism and hope, particularly for the owners of minority businesses throughout the Bay Area.” Lee also stated, “Dr. Howell was a great friend and human being. I was proud to call her my sister, and I will miss her kindness, wise counsel and her love. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, her staff, and those in the business community whose lives were enriched by Dr. Howell’s unwavering commitment to her community. She will be missed terribly by all who knew her.”Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson mourned the loss of Howell, stating, “Dr. C. Dianne Howell sacrificed her professional career to create the Black Business Listings. The newspaper is an essential communication vehicle for those in the African American business, educational and social communities. She will always be in my prayers.”Bob Butler, president of the Bay Area Association of Black Journalists, stated, “C. Diane Howell was a tireless champion for the African American business community. Her Black Business Listings and Black Expo Trade Fair were premier events for anyone wanting to conduct business in the black community. The Bay Area Black Journalists Association mourns Howell’s passing. She is a treasure and will be sorely missed.”Over the course of her illustrious career, Howell was recognized by numerous organizations. The most recent of these include the Social Entrepreneur Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Local Hero Award from KQED, the 2008 Community Award from 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, a Citation of Achievement from the Oakland City Council, and the Woman of the Year Award by Sacramento’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Howell will be honored posthumously with the Madam C.J. Walker Award from the Oakland-Bay Area Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 2009.Howell is survived by her mother, Doris Howell; her sister, Lynda Middleton; her brother, William Howell Jr., and his wife, Rhonda; one nephew, William Howell III; and a niece, Shawn Wilkins, and her husband, Randall. All are residents of Chicago.Memorial services for Howell will be held Monday, Jan. 5, 2009, at 11 a.m. at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center in downtown Oakland. In lieu of flowers, the Howell family has asked that contributions be made to the Dr. C. Diane Howell Memorial Fund at Alta Alliance Bank, located at 1951 Webster St. in Oakland. To make contributions to the memorial fund (account number 1800102992), contact Alta Alliance Bank at (510) 899-7500.For more information about memorial services and other activities planned in honor of Howell, visit the Black Expo website at http://blackexpoltd.com.