VersAbility Board Member a World Traveler with a Heart for Community Service

Blind person using computer with braille computer display

Dian Calderone grew up in tiny Ashtabula, Ohio, on Lake Erie and ventured far.

She started her own company, traveled the world, raised two children and served on too many boards to count. She is currently on VersAbility Resources’ Board of Directors, supporting its mission that pairs well with a core value of hers.

Summed up: You and I have a lot in common.

Calderone grew up playing outdoors with a group of kids, two with special needs. Other than attending a separate school, “The whole neighborhood played together,” she says. “They were just like us. It was a normal part of life to play with them and then you get out into the world and see that it’s not like that.”

Kids aren’t always kind to one other. Acceptance can be fleeting when people perceive differences. The fix isn’t that complicated, Calderone says.

“I’ve always believed that the reason people don’t accept people, whether special needs or other differences, is because of communication. Just talk to people. You find out you have the same worries, the same hopes, the same concerns.”

That’s why Calderone touts VersAbility’s Supported Employment program, which provides career opportunities for people with disabilities. “There are many jobs in this country for people with disabilities and people just don’t realize it,” she says. “They are very good at doing things by rote. And there are many things in every company you want done by rote.”

Calderone spent her freshman year at Ohio University before  her life took an unorthodox term. She married a military officer and moved to Germany, home for the next three years. With limited experience — Calderone had been treasurer of her sorority and spent summer doing accounts receivable at a small dress shop — she began looking for a job. A captain sent her to interview for an accounting position. She got the position and flourished.

“I learned all the basics of accounting,” she said. “By the time I got back to the United States, I knew I wanted to be an accountant.”

Calderone finished college at Christopher Newport University and passed the CPA exam. Looking for work was difficult for a military wife even though by then her husband had decided to leave the service. Back in the early 1980s, a woman in accounting often was unusual. She initially worked at a Hampton firm and was met with “You’re a woman!” greetings when she arrived at clients’ offices for an audit. She brushed it off and thrived, opening her own business.

“The way I was raised is you set your mind to something, and you do it,” Calderone says. “If there are obstacles, you work around them.”

The firm began in 1988 with various name changes over the years and continues today as Calderone Abbott PC.  “It’s been a real journey,” Calderone says. “I’ve loved all 45 years of my career.”

Calderone’s board experience began when she was president of the Junior League. Since then, she’s served on major boards in her community and several in the state. She’s been president of the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank Board and was appointed twice to the Newport News Planning Commission. Two governors appointed her to the Board of Accountancy, which governs the CPAs in the Commonwealth. Her time commitment for the Sentara Health Board, where she still serves, has been immense.

This is the second time she has served on VersAbility’s board, and she was instrumental in the nonprofit’s acquisition of Hired Hands, which expanded opportunities in Supported Employment.

Calderone’s board work is only interrupted by her travels. Living aboard in her 20s made her hungry to see and learn about more countries.  She’s traveled all over Europe, just returned from Egypt and will head to Australia later this year. “When you live overseas, it changes your perspective,” she said. “You go abroad and see things built hundreds and thousands of years ago and children who speak five languages.”

Differences indeed, but the similarities connect us.

Copyright 2024 VersAbility Resources - All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy

Website by Consociate Media