Diana Allinger, 34, is the volunteer engagement and partnerships director at Campaign for Working Families. She is a social justice advocate, talented writer and music enthusiast.
As the director of volunteer engagement and partnerships, she plays a vital role in the strategic direction and leadership of the nonprofit. She is responsible for volunteer recruitment; she works with corporations, universities and the School District of Philadelphia to build partnerships and spearhead new initiatives.
Allinger earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University in 2011. When asked what she wanted to do after she graduated, Allinger replied:
“Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I tried a bunch of different things, including the restaurant industry, social worker’s rights organizing with the Restaurant Opportunities Center United- ROC United, blogging and corporate work. Then I worked with The Philadelphia Youth Network – PYN, a nonprofit.
After a few years at PYN, Allinger decided she needed a change. So, she began volunteering at the Nationalities Service Center, where she taught English. After earning her TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification at the International TEFL Academy, she moved to Colombia.
Taking a leap of faith
Allinger said the decision to move to Colombia in 2018 was a difficult one.
“I thought about going when I graduated from college in my early 20s, but I was a little bit afraid to go,” she said. “It was intimidating. It took me a while to actually do it. I was very nervous because I went by myself, and I didn’t have a job lined up when I went there.”
Luckily, two weeks after she arrived in Colombia, she found a job teaching at Centro de Idiomas Blendex, a language institute, in Medellin, Colombia.
Allinger was enjoying her time there until January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic caused countries around the world to begin lockdowns. Suddenly, she had to learn to become a virtual teacher.
She said Medellin established “very extreme COVID policies.”
“The local government instituted extreme curfews and closed bus routes,” Allinger said. “They instituted a rule that you could only leave the house once a week according to the last number on your ID.”
On a mission to help others
When she returned to the United States in 2021, she wanted to work for an organization with a “positive mission” that was “trying to help people and prevent harm.”
Fortunately, she got a job as an operations specialist at Philly Counts. The city initiative is focused on helping all Philadelphia residents understand why they should consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since then, aside from teaching, all the jobs I have had are sort of service-related,” Allinger said.
Before working at Campaign for Working Families, she was an operations manager for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO).
At CEO, Allinger met Dr Nikia Owens, who was her supervisor.
“I really enjoyed working with her,” Allinger said. “She saw potential in me and encouraged me to join her at CWF. She is a great leader and very inspiring.”
When asked what advice she had for others, she quoted Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Do something that scares you every day.”
Allinger said she tends to be a worrier but added that “taking risks and trying new things have helped her become a better worker and a better person.”
“Being a director was outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “I didn’t think I was ready at first. It has been a great challenge, but now I feel confident and capable in my role.”
To learn more about Campaign for Working Families, go to cwfphilly.org.
Interview by SueAnn Rybak, FunTimes Magazine
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