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Diane Dunn Receives Houghton College’s Alumna of the Year for 2022

April 13, 2022

For many first-year Houghton College students, Highlander Wilderness Adventure is a fun way to start their college career: they make new friends, they explore the wilds of Western New York, they transition to life as independent adults. For some, it is a crucible, one that forms and shapes them in ways that prepare them for God’s unique calling on their lives.

For the recipient of this year’s Alumna of the Year Award, Highlander was, in many ways, that crucible.

The skills she explored—team-building, bonding, testing herself—transferred well to her life and the career she would eventually lead in the National Guard. She learned to overcome challenges, to reach goals she did not think she was capable of reaching, to rely on the support of others, to trust in God’s plan, and to apply leadership skills and mental health care skills in everyday life.

For Diane (Meserve ’88) Dunn, Highlander paved the way to participation in Houghton’s ROTC program. When she commissioned into the Maine Army National Guard upon graduation from Houghton in 1988, Diane was equipped to fill the many roles of national guardsman, civilian employee, wife and mother.

Dianne Dunn portrait
Photo of Diane Dunn at Houghton College.

In Diane’s civilian career, she was employed by Community Health and Counseling Services as a licensed social worker providing services to adults with major mental health disabilities. She has owned her own mortgage brokerage – Moosehead Mortgage Company – and currently owns and operates Jim Dunn Stable LLC, a harness racing horse stable with 8-10 harness racehorses.

In 1997, Diane was offered the opportunity to work full time for the Maine National Guard, combining the Houghton skills she’d honed in the civilian workforce with new skills acquired on the job, and her ongoing monthly National Guard contributions. This transition began a steady ascent through the ranks of the Maine National Guard, where Diane excelled at leading others and at navigating the logistics necessary to ensure those around her thrived.

Diane’s service in Maine, during deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and during joint service with US Army North in Texas, garnered her well-deserved accolades from her superior officers. She is the recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism-Service Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal, among many others.

Diane is a Lifetime Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of The Military Officers Association of America, the National Guard Association of the United States and was named to the St. Bonaventure University Army ROTC Hall of Fame.

In addition to Diane’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Houghton College, she holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Maine and a Masters of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.

In 2014, Diane was appointed the first woman to command a brigade in the Maine Army National Guard.

In July of 2020, Diane was promoted to Brigadier General in the Maine Army National Guard, the first female general officer in the state’s 200-year history. She was also the first Houghton College alumna to become a general officer in any of the Armed Forces. She served as the Assistant Adjutant General in Maine beginning in June of 2020, and was dual hatted in April of 2021 as Deputy Commanding General, Defense Support to Civil Authorities with US Army North, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Diane retired from military service in the fall of 2021. She has recently taken on a new challenge as the Senior Advisor for Special Initiatives to the President of the University of Maine, a position that allows her to continue using the many gifts with which God has blessed her. Her role is varied and challenging, including oversight of campus construction projects and the university’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.

In addition to Diane’s incredible career in both the civilian and military sectors, she is a dedicated wife to her husband James; a loving mother to her three children Kayla, Kristin and Marcus; and a doting grandmother.

Diane is a loyal and faithful supporter of Houghton’s Student Scholarship Fund, has presented on the topic of leadership for her alma mater’s BEST Talks series, and is enthusiastic about seeking out opportunities to connect with Houghton alumni in her region.

For Diane’s lifetime of service to her country, her family, and her faith, it is my privilege to award her Houghton College’s Alumna of the Year for 2022.