Dianne O’Connor came to the Capital Region office of Parent to Parent of NYS in October 2014. Prior to working with Parent to Parent, she worked for the NYS Research Foundation of Mental Hygiene at the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services implementing a sub-contract for SAMHSA on the Prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). She is a certified FASD trainer through the Center for Disease Control and has been a national speaker and advocate for families who have loved ones with FASD. Over the years she has helped her children to also advocate for themselves and has brought them with her on many New York State and national speaking engagements. In 2005, Dianne received the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner’s Service Award for her work on FASD prevention. Dianne’s passion to help those with FASD and the families who love them has kept her going. She tells families, “Don’t stress if you don’t get it right or fall back on old parenting ways. It’s OK. Our loved ones have memory issue so you get a ‘do over’ to try it again.” Dianne continues to work with NYS OASAS on the FASD Interagency Workgroup.
Dianne’s family is a blend of foster, adoptive, and birth children and a huge sense of pride for her and her husband. In addition to her work in the field of FASD, Dianne also is an adoption and foster-care advocate and worked as a Post Adoption Advocate for many years. Through this work, she was able to help set up many parent support groups and connect people with needed services in their communities. She was the foster care and adoption family member on the Children’s Coordinated Service Initiative Tier III, working with state level representatives from the various service delivery systems to help families with children who had unique treatment and service needs. Dianne is a certified MAPP trainer and has helped develop several foster and adoptive family curriculums.
Dianne and her husband Mickey have been married for 40 years and have nine children, several with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. They also have four grandchildren, two of which they are raising. Dianne states about her grandchildren, “We are having fun with our grandchildren. They keep us young and we seem to be more patient with them than we were with their parents. We aren’t starting over, we are just continuing with our family.” Dianne enjoyed her time as a volunteer at a local day care center rocking babies until starting at Parent to Parent. When Dianne is not busy working on her college course work, she loves to read and go to camp. Her guilty pleasure is watching Project Runway.