Our Mission

To make Oakland’s Dimond District a vibrant, safe, and beautiful place for everyone to live, work, shop, and play.

Our Motto

Involvement Builds Community

Who We Are

We are a community-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with membership and participation open to all. We bring together residents, businesses, agencies, and other groups to engage in community projects, to address issues of common concern, and to cultivate a friendly, inclusive neighborhood.


The Dimond Improvement Association has many committees and projects to benefit the community. Take a look at our Projects & Committees page and see what might interest you! There are opportunities to volunteer from once a year to once a week.

Serving on Our Board

If you are interested in becoming a board member, please contact our chair, Chris Harper, at  ChrisH@DimondNews.org. Our board 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. See more about joining the board.

Public Information

  • Our board meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at the Dimond Branch Public Library at 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA, 7-9pm. Committee meetings take place as determined by the individual committees.
  • The public is invited to our board meetings. If you would like to request an item added to the agenda, please email our chair, Chris Harper, at ChrisH@DimondNews.org.
  • Board meeting minutes are posted to the website approximately one month after the meeting, following board review and approval. See elsewhere on this page for minutes dating back to 2015, when we became an incorporated nonprofit.

General Meetings

DIA General Meetings are held approximately five times a year, on the first Wednesdays of Feburary, April, June, August, and October, unless otherwise announced. The meetings are typically at the Dimond Branch Public Library, 7-9pm. See the Events Calendar for upcoming meetings and topics.


April 2020
February 2020
November 2019
August 2019
May 2019
February 2019
November 2018
August 2018
May 2018
February 2018
November 2017
August 2017 (Fall)
May 2017 (Summer)

Board of Directors 2020


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.

DIA Accomplishments and Current Activities

Dimond Branch Library

In the 1980s, the DIA worked with the City of Oakland to move the Dimond Library to a new site with improved facilities, a larger space to house the library collection, and a community meeting place. The Dimond Library is now an extremely busy branch library and provides educational and fellowship programs for all age groups, also hosting community meetings and events in the large meeting room. The Dimond Branch Library celebrated its 100th year Anniversary in 2015. Website: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/dimond-branch.

Closure of Hillcrest Motel
In 2003, a group of DIA members and neighbors were able to work together in closing the Hillcrest Motel. The DIA partnered with Boston Avenue neighbors, the Oakland Police Department, our Oakland City Council members and other supporters to shut down a motel that had become a mecca for drug traffickers and prostitutes. In 2004, the motel was leveled and a senior housing facility, Lincoln Court, was built at the former Hillcrest Motel site. The DIA continues to work with the directors and residents of Lincoln Court to include these seniors in Dimond activities.
Dimond Public Safety Council / 22X NCPC

The DIA formed the Dimond Public Safety Council incorporating the Oakland Police Department Beat 22X into a neighborhood crime prevention council. After a number of years of working with the City, this council became its own organization encompassing several surrounding neighborhoods. It is now the Neighborhood Council 22X (NC22X). Both the DIA and NC22X work to address crime issues in the Dimond District including burglaries, robberies, aggressive panhandling, and quality of life issues. Website: http://ncpc22x.org.


Fruitvale Alive Project & Champion Transit Plaza
Between 2004 and 2013, the DIA worked with the City of Oakland and Alameda County to create a pedestrian and bike friendly corridor starting in the Dimond District and continuing south along Fruitvale Avenue. The Dimond District is an Alameda County transit hub providing accessible means of travel for residents and visitors. The Fruitvale Alive Project was completed in 2013 with the dedication of the Champion Transit Plaza, a dramatic transit structure that now stands in the middle of the Dimond District surrounded by a garden area maintained by DIA volunteers.


Dimond Gateway Garden & Beautification in Dimond
DIA volunteers created a mini-park at the major intersection at MacArthur Blvd and Lincoln Avenue, supported by both the DIA and Dimond merchants. This is known as the Dimond Gateway Garden. The land is owned by the City of Oakland, but maintained by community members. In addition, DIA volunteers have established and continue to maintain many planted pots and flower containers on various corners and sidewalks in the Dimond District.


Economic Development

From 2002 to 2013 the DIA has surveyed residents, built relationships with commercial property owners, and has actively encouraged businesses and merchants to establish their businesses in the Dimond District. As a result, Farmer Joe’s, a major family-owned market; La Farine Bakery; Peet’s Coffee & Tea; Paws & Claws; and, additional coffee spots, a variety of restaurants, a copy shop, and a purveyor of handmade ice cream have energized the neighborhood. With the opening of Oaklandish in 2013, there is hope with combined effort between the leadership of the DIA and the merchants, more businesses will choose to locate in the Dimond District. The Dimond’s economic development is an ongoing focus of the DIA. If you are a DIA member and would like to help the Dimond’s economic growth, you can do so by joining the DIA board and serving on the Economic Development Committee.


Public Art
The DIA fosters and encourages Public Art and is supportive of many local artists. The Dimond is home to several large public murals depicting its history, diverse cultures, and vibrancy; and, a mural featuring the diverse cultures in Dimond. In addition, there is an exhibit created by children “Stars of Dimond”; a photographic exhibit featuring residents and local scenes; directional sidewalk mosaics; and, mosaics on several of the City utility structures. DIA–A Nonprofit, continues to work with local artists to bring more Public Art to Dimond.


District Maintenance

THe DIA’s Keep Dimond Clean program came to exist becasue the City of Oakland is no longer able to provide maintenance to districts other than street sweeping. The DIA and the Dimond community believe that a clean district is of primary importance in the economic viability, growth and safety of a neighborhood. In 2009, Keep Dimond Clean was organized by the DIA and continues to be sponsored by La Farine Bakery. This volunteer driven project handles maintenance issues in the Dimond District, including the removal of litter, graffiti, cigarette butts and debris. Keep Dimond Clean is a volunteer work group of approximately 30 volunteers organized by the DIA. Volunteers work every week and remove 12,000 pounds of sidewalk litter per year. There is also a dedicated volunteer team removing graffiti from signs, posts, newspaper stands, utility boxes and various sites. In 2012, the DIA and the Merchants Association each made contributions to hire a paid crew to supplement the volunteer team in removing litter and debris. A fundraiser was launched which raised additional funds by contributions from residents and merchants. Maintenance in the Dimond District is now accomplished through the combined efforts of volunteers and a paid crew.