Diane “Di” Saunders joined Oregon University System in November 2002 as Director of Communications. In this capacity, Saunders provides leadership in the management of external and internal communications for the state’s public higher education system. She works closely with the Chancellor, the State Board of Higher Education, campus leadership and staff, and OUS staff to effectively disseminate public information, including system and Board initiatives, research and reports, legislative action, and progress towards system goals. Saunders develops, manages, and executes statewide communications strategies and public outreach, staffs Board committees and working groups, co-directors the College Access Challenge Grant for the state of Oregon, serves as institutional spokesperson with news media, and keeps stakeholders and the public informed through print, broadcast and web-based communications. She staffs a council of OUS public information officers and coordinates internal communications to maximize efforts of the Chancellor’s office and system.
Prior to returning to her hometown of Portland, Oregon, Diane Saunders was Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs for Nellie Mae Education Foundation in Boston from 1999 to 2002. Here, she managed all internal and external communications outreach and activities; sponsored education research projects including dissemination activities; legislative relations and policy development; and grantee and Board communications. She was previously Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs for Nellie Mae Student Loan Corporation from 1987 to 1999. Here Saunders managed all marketing communications including publications, advertising, and other activities. She acted as spokesperson discussing issues related to student loan debt, repayment, and borrowing, on national and local network television and radio and in print media. She also managed research for the Corporation and authored or co-authored several policy and research studies, including: Life After Debt: Results of the National Student Loan Survey (1998); and BROKEN PARTNERSHIP: The Impact of Increased Education Debt on Students, Higher Education and the Work Force (1996).
Before joining Nellie Mae, Saunders worked for six years in Africa, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and later as a private consultant for the Ministries of Education and Local Government and Lands in Botswana. She was on the Board of Directors of the New England Educational Opportunity Association, or NEOA, (formerly NEAEOPP) from 1989 to 2000; was a volunteer at Casa Myrna in Dorchester, Mass., a shelter for battered women and their children from 2000-2002; was a volunteer writing tutor at Portland State University for several years; and is currently on the Board of Directors of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing.
Saunders received her B.A. in English and a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate from Portland State University; and an M.S. in Communications Management at Simmons College in Boston. She lives in Portland with her husband, Charles.