From working in corporate consulting to leading the Friends of the Library of Southport and Oak Island to volunteering in a variety of ways around town, Diana Fotinatos is connecting the dots in Brunswick County.
Diana Fotinatos has been making matches for nearly 30 years. As founding partner and managing director of Alexander Consulting, she connects executives to leading global organizations. Her executive search firm works with a range of industries from consumer goods and retail to healthcare, information technology, energy, aerospace, banking, media and entertainment.
“I serve my clients with uncompromised ethics and I am proud of the relationships I have built with them,”
Fotinatos says. “Many of her clients have been customers for ten years or more.”
Fotinatos started Alexander Consulting nearly 30 years ago to achieve a balanced quality of life when her son, Michael Alexander, was born. Living in New Jersey and commuting to New York City made it difficult to be present at home. “The decision to start my own business was right for my family,” she says. “No regrets.”
Fotinatos now operates her consulting business from Southport, needing only a good Internet connection and a phone. “Only a few clients request onsite interviews and meetings,” she says. “Video conferencing is a far more cost effective way to conduct business.”
Fotinatos’ instinctive ability to connect with people has found a higher purpose. And it began in a library.
Growing up, Fotinatos spent a lot of time in libraries. “It was a safe and welcoming place to hang out until my mother got off work,” she says. “There was always something interesting to do there.”
Today Fotinatos is the president of the board of directors of the Friends of the Library of Southport and Oak Island (FOLSOI), a 501(c)3 nonprofit supporting both libraries. She directs the 10-member volunteer board that raises funds to deliver adult and child programs, lease new book titles, purchase needed library equipment and supplies and help the libraries meet literary, technological, cultural and community goals.
More than 65 experienced volunteers support library programming through funding received from members, grants and the operation of a bookstore with more than 1,000 titles in the back office of Southport Realty. Fotinatos is particularly proud of the book sales team. “Our bookstore really brings our larger community together through the joy of reading,” she says.
Under her leadership, FOLSOI has delivered new youth programs to both Margaret and James Harper, Jr. Library in Southport and G.V. Barbee Sr. Library in Oak Island. Other new programs include the Lego We-Do robotics class for third through sixth graders and Crafts-4-Kids hosted by the St. James Artisans.
In an unprecedented action, Fotinatos initiated a meeting with the presidents of Friends of the Library groups from Rourk Branch Library in Shallotte, Leland Library and Southwest Brunswick Branch Library in Carolina Shores. They are working together to identify best operational practices, share ideas and influence positive change in the libraries.
“A well-run and well-funded library is a smart investment that transforms a community,” Fotinatos notes.
Recently Fotinatos has been out and about in Brunswick County connecting FOLSOI with other nonprofit organizations that have similar goals. She has delivered keynotes to Southport Rotary Club, St. James Plantation Service Club and the Kiwanis Club of Southport-Oak Island. She imparts a key message: “Libraries are a great equalizer in today’s society and play an increasingly critical role in leveling the playing field by providing free access to technology and information to everyone.”
While Fotinatos is passionate about libraries, she is even more passionate about helping underserved youth.
“Statistically speaking, I was one of them,” she says. Yet she was the first person in her family to go to college, graduating magna cum laude from Seton Hall University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree in management and industrial relations.
Fotinatos personally knows that “after school is when youth need help the most,” which is why she volunteers for Communities in Schools (CIS) of Brunswick County, Inc. Every Tuesday she tutors second through fifth graders at Supply Elementary. “When I see a child who was struggling advance to the next reading level, it makes it all worth it,” she says. “Youth are our future.”
Fotinatos is also the Constitution Chairperson for the Brunswick Town Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR.)
“Being involved with DAR is a tribute to my biological father, who I never knew,” she says. “His family has five patriots who served during the American Revolution. It’s a privilege to serve with DAR.”
Donning full Colonial attire, Fotinatos educates fifth graders at Bolivia, Southport, Supply and Virginia Williamson Elementary Schools about the Constitution. Last spring, DAR recognized Fotinatos’ exemplary community service with an award.
Fotinatos’ history has not been her destiny. She’s not counting accomplishments. Instead, she’s bringing people together. “I believe we are all capable of great contributions if given the right tools and an opportunity,” she says.