By the time France was liberated at the end of World War II, almost 350,000 Jews in France had been killed or targeted for Nazi annihilation. Through courageous efforts of French locals, 7,000 Jewish children were hidden and saved from the authorities, including one girl who grew up, came to America and whose thankful daughter, Diane Hartz Warsoff, now repays that 70-year-old act of humanity here in Utah.
How did your mother's survival story get you interested in the nonprofit world?
My family was saved by people who acted purely out of goodness in spite of great danger and that has had an impact on how I view the world. I exist because of the humanity of others who rescued my mother. There's a book about her, Your Name Is Renée, by Stacy Cretzmeyer. That story has impacted the charitable work I do.
You are CEO of the Community Development Corporation of Utah, a nonprofit that reduces homelessness and increases home ownership. How did you get into this?
I have a finance background in banking. I worked for the Federal Reserve in New York, and then I worked for several commercial banks both back East and here in Utah where we've lived for the past 22 years. I thought it was time for a change and the CDCU wanted someone with strong management skills and who understood mortgage lending. Previously, I had worked on standardizing mortgage lending procedures.
What is CDCU's mission?
To assist aspiring homeowners along the path to home ownership, develop sustainable and affordable housing, revitalize neighborhoods and communities and promote self-sufficiency through home ownership. This alleviates homelessness, because people currently renting become successful homeowners, freeing up their apartments to provide more capacity for others. Part of homelessness is a capacity issue.
How do you accomplish this?
For people with incomes up to 80 percent of area median income, we provide counseling, education classes, mortgage assistance through our low-cost mortgage program and we do acquisition and rehabilitation by purchasing foreclosed and houses in poor repair. We improve and resell them to low- and moderate-income people. We work with clients and banks to prevent houses from being foreclosed on. We have a homeowner repair program and we partner with Salt Lake County on the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.
What else should we know about you?
My husband and I do a lot of volunteer work. We like to travel. We love the mountains and hike and bike. I love to read and have piles of books everywhere. After 22 years here, people still ask me where I am from and I enjoy answering "Salt Lake City." But, I am originally from Philadelphia and I am proud of that.