Board of Directors

Board Minutes 2020

01/202002/202003/2020 04/2020

Board Minutes Archive


General Meeting Minutes


Board of Directors 2020


The Board of Directors may have up to 17 members. All boardmembers serve one-year terms and may be re-elected without limit. An election takes place every April, with nominations open several months in advance. New board members may also be appointed by the board at other times of the year if there are vacancies.

Board meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at the Dimond Branch Public Library at 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA, 7-9pm. (Note: During the pandemic, the board is meeting via Zoom.) Committee meetings take place as determined by the individual committees.

The public is invited to attend board meetings. If you would like to request an item added to the agenda, please email our chair, Ryan Romaneski at

Board meeting minutes are posted to the website, following board review and approval at the subsequent meeting. See elsewhere on this page for minutes dating back to 2015, when we became an incorporated nonprofit.

If you are interested in becoming a board member, please contact our chair, Ryan Romaneski at See more about joining the board


Jay Ashford
Jay has lived in the Dimond district since 2005. Since moving to Oakland, Jay has served on several City of Oakland boards and commissions, including the Public Ethics Commission, the Budget Advisory Commission, and the Community Policing Advisory Board. He has been active in his daughters’ elementary and middle school PTA organizations, and volunteered for several local and statewide political advocacy organizations. Professionally, he is the founder of ATS Partners, Inc., which provides project management and business process improvement consulting services.

Jay’s vision for the Dimond: to create a vibrant, inclusive destination commercial district that draws residents from across Oakland, and to strengthen a shared sense of community among local residents.

Zandile Christian
Zandile has been a resident of the Dimond for 23 years and has served on the DIA board for six years. She has participated in many efforts and on many committees, including Finance, Oaktoberfest, Membership, Database, Crime & Safety, Dimond Public Art, Art in the Street, and Keep Dimond Clean.

Zandile’s vision is to have the Dimond be clean and safe for all and to maintain the district’s charming characteristics.

Fran Donohue
Fran is a local realtor who lives, works, and plays in the Dimond. She’s been a Dimond homeowner for ten years and a DIA board member for nine of those. Fran is chair of the DIA’s Finance Committee, a member of the Execuitve and Membership committees, and active on Oaktoberfest finances and in Keep Dimond Clean administration. Previously, she’s been involved on the Business Development Committee, Membership Committee, and in working to develop marketing materials. A long-time fan of the Dimond, she has represented many in our community both as buyers and sellers. She enjoys dining, hiking, and meeting up with friends in the area.

Fran’s vision is to continue the mission of the DIA to beautify the neighborhood through public art; develop a safe and vibrant business district, drawing new businesses and bringing variety to the community; invite new customers and residents to our neighborhood; and continue to serve our community.

Paul Epstein

Paul and his family have lived in the Dimond-Glenview area since 2005.  Paul is a trusts and estates attorney, and has been practicing law for over 20 years. For several years, Paul served on the Board of East Bay Trusts and Estates Lawyers (EBTEL). His wife is a psychologist and their daughter will soon attend Oakland School for the Arts. She learned to ride a bike on the tennis courts at Dimond Park. Paul enjoys trying new, healthy recipes, exercising, spending time with his wife and daughter, and noodling around on the guitar. He wishes he could boast of being an avid gardener but, alas, he is not.

Paul’s vision is to build on the great work that the Dimond Improvement Association has already accomplished. He envisions the Dimond as a vibrant, clean, and safe shopping district, with more murals, more art, and more trees.  



Tomasz Finc
Tomasz has lived with his wife and daughter in the Dimond since June 2016. He’s lived in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland for the last 16 years. He’s volunteered for local organizations such as Code 2040, Wikimedia Foundation, and the Circus Center, along with local industrial arts groups such as Flaming Lotus Girls and the Crucible. Recently, he started participating with Keep Dimond Clean to pick up litter and meet more of his neighbors.

Tomasz’s vision for the Dimond is to retain the diversity that motivated his family to move here, fill in the empty storefronts and vacant lots with thriving businesses, and keep up Dimond Park and Sausal Creek.

Chris Harper
Chris remembers visiting the Dimond as far back as 1972, when his grandmother lived on Dimond Avenue. In 1986, as a young teacher, he made the Dimond his permanent residence, and in subsequent years married and raised two children, now college age. In 1998, Chris joined the faculty of Head-Royce School, where he has taught Physics, Astronomy, and Robotics ever since. Chris served on the DIA board from 2011 to 2015, most of that time as board chair. Improving the DIA’s fiscal management and transitioning to a new listserve were two significant achievements during his chairmanship.

Chris’ vision for the Dimond is to further its growth as a community built by involvement. This means facilitating communication among community members, DIA members, merchants, visitors, and the many organizations that have the Dimond as their focus.

Julie Johnson
Julie was born in Oakland and is a 22-year resident of the Dimond, where she raised her two daughters. She loves Oakland and working to benefit our community. Julie has been a DIA board member for 11 years and is currently Treasurer, Dimond Public Art Committee chair, and a Finance Committee member. She’s also been active on the Economic Development Committee. In the accounting field for 25+ years, Julie currently works as finance department head at Ray’s Electric. Her hobbies include masters swimming, gardening, hiking, travel, cooking & baking, sewing, decorating, and paper collage.

Julie’s vision for the Dimond is a thriving business district with a variety of cool offerings, including interesting retail and dining experiences. She would love to help usher in more public art and is passionate about retaining some of Dimond’s architectural aspects from the past.

Marjorie Jones

Marjorie is happy to have been a resident of the Dimond for 26 years. She was active in various parent groups at both Sequoia Elementary and Bret Harte Middle School, where her three daughters attended. Her small business, MarjTax, provides tax preparation and bookkeeping services for non-profits. Marjorie feels fortunate to be working with a variety of amazing agencies with a diversity of missions including: at-risk youth outreach, scientific research, animal rescue, environmental education, human trafficking rescue, as well as a couple municipal improvement districts. She also serves as treasurer for the Dimond Business & Professional Association.

Marjorie’s vision for the Dimond is a place that continues to have amazing grocery options and a variety of affordable diners. Going forward, she envisions fun and appealing places for young folks to safely gather and regular entertainment events for families.


Marion Mills
Marion has lived in the Dimond since 1985 and started her volunteer activities picking up litter in the upper Dimond. She was a board member and secretary for the NCPC 22X for eight years, serving as chair of the beautification and bylaws-revision committees, working on fundraising, and organizing a pros & cons forum on city measures. She’s been on the DIA board since 2014 and serves on the Panhandling & Homeless and Beautification committees. She also leads a weekly litter group in Dimond Park.

Marion’s vision for the Dimond is to make it a more attractive place to live through beautification projects, eliminating panhandlers and homeless encampments, and working with city agencies and the community. She wants to increase the community’s knowledge of DIA with the hope that more people will join and volunteer to add greater strength to our endeavors.

Ryan Romaneski
Ryan moved to the Dimond in 2016, after three years working in Oakland and living in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Originally from Washington state, Ryan has worked in technology, real estate, and community development, including as Executive Director of the Pioneer School Community Association and the Pioneer Square Business Improvement Area (now the Alliance for Pioneer Square) in Seattle. Ryan is currently Regional Director of Operations for KIPP Bay Area Schools, an Oakland-based nonprofit network of 14 charter public schools operating across the Bay Area.

Ryan’s vision for the Dimond is a robust, safe, and highly walkable commercial district, increased mixed-use development that brings more residents to the transit-rich neighborhood, and a DIA that is an engaged and responsive voice of the community.

Ben Stein-Lobovits

Originally from San Francisco, Ben returned to the Bay Area in 2009 and became a homeowner in the Dimond in 2017. He has worked in the tech sector since 2008, most recently as the Lead Web and Analytics Engineer at Ripple, a finance-tech company in downtown San Francisco. Ben is a hospice volunteer at Pathways, where he visits patients with his canine good citizen, a goldendoodle named Cow. He also volunteers at the Oakland Hebrew Day School. Using his tech skills to give back to the community, Ben has created websites for a number of nonprofits, including Doctors of the World and the International School Counselor Association. Ben lives with his wife and baby daughter. He enjoys gardening, listening to his record collection, and building furniture.

Ben’s vision for the Dimond is to improve this already thriving community by creating safer walking spaces, cultivating new businesses and supporting those already in the area, and ensuring that the community remains inclusive for all. 

Daniel Swafford
Daniel has served on the DIA board since 2005. He is executive director for two Oakland-based non-profits and Business Improvement Districts (Laurel and Montclair). He is also vice chair for the Oakland BID Alliance and a member of the city’s Small Business Task Force. As a past DIA chair, Daniel worked to modernize and grow the organization to best address community issues and communicate effectively with residents and merchants. He helped found the NCPC 22X, worked aggressively on business attraction, and was a founder of Oaktoberfest in the Dimond—the principal fundraiser for the DIA and Dimond merchants association. He is currently managing director of Oaktoberfest and a member of the DIA Public Safety Committee.

Daniel’s vision for the Dimond is to see positive, progressive solutions for the challenges that currently face the Dimond District and the City of Oakland.

JoAnn Tracht-Rawson
JoAnn has lived in the DImond for seven years. Before moving to Oakland, she was a board member at-large on the Ocean Avenue Revitalization Collaborative in San Francisco for seven years and helped form a successful Community Benefits District. She has been on the DIA board for nearly six years and is one of the leads for Keep Dimond Clean. She also serves on the Dimond Public Art and Finance committees, and has been a member of the ad hoc Board Nominating Committee the past two years. In 2017, she led the design and launch of the new DIA website and the quarterly e-newsletter.

JoAnn’s vision for the Dimond is to see a more vibrant commercial area, stronger unity between the DIA and the merchants association, and a safer environment to explore food and art in the Dimond day or night.

Victoria Wake
Victoria is an East Bay native and 16-year Dimond resident. She is retired from AC Transit, where she managed service information, marketing, and outreach programs. Her long-time interests include the environment, public transportation, and history. She joined the DIA board in 2006 and has been the Recorder for the past several years. She enjoys working to improve organizational and communication effectiveness, and has helped develop and lead DIA general meetings on Dimond history, water conservation, and transportation. She currently serves on the Beautification, Communications, and Executive committees.

Victoria’s vision for the Dimond includes people walking more and driving less, knowing each other better, and spending more time patronizing our businesses and enjoying our magnificent park. She would like to see a safer, more beautiful, and culturally vibrant Dimond where everyone contributes to a positive community spirit.

Kevin Whittinghill

Originally from Santa Cruz, Kevin has lived in New York and San Francisco before becoming a homeowner in the Dimond district in 2019. He has a background in theater, film, stand-up, and graphic design, and currently works as a Publisher for Horsley Bridge Partners, a global private equity fund-of-funds, in San Francisco. He’s also produced live theater and comedy events, including the nerd comedy shows Eureka! and You Should Know This! When he’s not spending time with his wife and baby daughter, he loves to cook, travel, and write.

Kevin’s vision is to continue the work of others in creating a thriving and prosperous commercial district and making sure the Dimond is a safe and beautiful place for those in the community.