TACA board member Diane Souder was born in Detroit and grew up in Birmingham, Michigan. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley Massachusetts with a degree in Urban Studies and got her Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. To get some work experience she decided to become a VISTA Volunteer and moved to Albuquerque to “eradicate poverty.” She immediately fell in love with New Mexico.
One of her first planning projects with the UNM Design and Planning Assistance Center in 1976 was to help the village of Madrid incorporate. She asked a resident why they moved to Madrid. “To get away from people like you!” was the response. She never forgot that in her entire planning career.
In 1978, she joined the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service and worked with communities in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Projects involved National Register sites and Nominations, National Landmarks, Wild Rivers, Land and Water Conservation Funded recreation areas and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program. When HCRS was abolished in 1981 programs were absorbed by the National Park Service and so was she, working in the Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe.
In 1990, because of her contacts as co-Chair of the National Open Space Conference, she was assigned to a 90 day detail as the first employee at Albuquerque’s Petroglyph National Monument. This became a permanent career, from which she retired in 2018. She worked on creating a General Management Plan, as a Volunteer Coordinator, Public Affairs Manager and Chief of Interpretation and Outreach.
Diane’s first house was in the South Broadway neighborhood and she helped to form the neighborhood association. The tiny brick house allowed her to try out skills she had read about: repointing bricks, stripping paint and making stained glass. Some of these skills were perfected, others not.
She currently lives in the Huning Castle neighborhood and remains involved in neighborhood affairs and protection of the nearby Open Space. Married to architect Jim Graf, they have two daughters, all of who love Albuquerque and New Mexico. Diane has been on the TACA Board for years and chaired the TACA Awards event many times.