Helping the community warms Diana’s heart

Diana Taylor was also honoured with the Australia Day Honours’ Member of the Order of Australia (AM) close to two months ago. (Supplied)

Highton’s Diana Taylor received the 2023 Frank Costa Leadership Award close to two months after being honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). She speaks with Jena Carr about her commitment to the Geelong community.

Diana Taylor AM has always been passionate about giving back to Geelong, with the concept of service above self, as shown by her parents.

The Highton woman has an extensive career across football, legal, and community roles, with her involvement featuring 25 years in Australian Rules Football.

Diana said she admired the selflessness others showed on a daily basis and that her work in the Geelong community was “multifaceted”.

“Giving back is one of the most important things that you can possibly do for your community and the people around you,” she said.

“My interests run long and deep, but leading and supporting the areas that I do in Geelong to build better lives and a better Geelong for all our community is really my core purpose.

“The greatness of Geelong lies in our people, the strength of our relationships, our care for each other and our unwavering commitment to achieve the best possible outcomes for our community.

“I got involved in football because I love it, and I love the fact that it’s such an important part of our community… We really do create positive change through football.

“It’s Australia’s greatest catalyst for positive change and I love seeing what it did for Geelong. It galvanises Geelong and assists in creating a community of people with wonderful life memories.”

Diana first met Frank Costa when she was invited to his East Melbourne home after Geelong had beaten St Kilda in the 2009 premiership and said he was her friend.

“It was a pinch-myself moment as I was sitting in the presence of greatness and Frank had made me a cup of coffee,” she said.

“Frank was Frank, and he was in complete control. He spoke about his love of Geelong, his family, and his business interests, significantly the Geelong Cats and how the Cats should be led.

“He was also my friend and provided me with wonderful life and business advice, as well as about how Geelong works and the importance of our relationships.

“I got some wonderful relationship and dating advice from Frank, and what he would say to me is, ‘You need to start with their values, Diana and whether their values are aligned to your values’.

“Frank was completely non-judgmental, he was just interested and concerned in me and how I was going. I didn’t get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from Frank, but I got guidance from him.”

Diana said she was “absolutely thrilled” to receive the 2023 Frank Costa Leadership Award from Committee for Geelong (CfG) during its International Women’s Day Breakfast on March 8.

“It was an incredibly special morning and I’m very grateful to the CfG for recognising my work and my leadership in our community,” she said.

“I love being a part of and making a contribution to Geelong, and I thank the CfG for its significant work and for recognising me in this way.

“Frank was my champion and appointed me to the Geelong Football Club Board. It was because of his gentle nudging that I also became chair of Anam Cara House Geelong.

“I continue to recall his wonderful life and business advice to me when I need it most. To receive this award that is named in Frank’s honour is incredibly special.”

The annual Frank Costa Leadership Award celebrates community leadership in Geelong and recognises Mr Costa’s legacy following his death in 2021.

CfG chair Clive Pugh said Diana’s leadership in Geelong was “truly remarkable” and was proud to present Diana with the award.

“She is a true inspiration to us all and we celebrate her dedication to the region,” he said.

“Her dedication to continually making a positive difference in the Geelong community is evident from her work with multiple organisations.”

On top of receiving the leadership award, Diana was recognised with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the general division during this year’s Australia Day Honours on January 25.

“To have received this recognition from the Australian government, but also from the Committee of Geelong, I feel quite overwhelmed and incredibly grateful,” she said.

“It’s wonderful that community service is being seen and recognised. There are so many people, including myself, who work so hard for our community in quiet places that don’t get seen.

“I think that what it also says for others is the work you do is seen, and wonderful organisations recognise what people are doing.

“There’s so much goodness in the Geelong community and everyone deserves to be recognised. It has been an incredible month.”

Diana said she had two highlights over her career, with roles as Geelong Cats Football Club’s vice-president and Anam Cara House Geelong’s chair continue to “warm my heart”.

“I get absolute pleasure from seeing Geelong Cats members arrive at GMHBA Stadium with their families and friends with that look of joy and expectation on their faces,” she said.

“Another significant highlight was October last year when we officially opened Anam Cara House Geelong after almost a 10-year journey and thousands of hours of work.

“To have that open for our community, it’s just a brilliant thing to be able to provide for our community members.”