Amazing Mom: Diane Granito

Filed under: Adoption, Childcare, Resources, Amazing Parents

Diane Granito is all about catching attention through a photograph. Credit: Courtesy of Diane Granito

Amazing Mom: Diane Granito, founder of the Heart Gallery, a nationwide, traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care.

Diane's Family: Kids: Nicole, 40, Kyle, 18

Diane Lives In:
Sante Fe, New Mexico

Why Diane Is Amazing: Twenty years ago, Diane Granito was working in Italy for Columbia Pictures, followed by a stint in New Mexico as a legal researcher.

Then one morning she woke up to a life-changing epiphany. She didn't want her efforts to benefit rich folks any more; she wanted to help those less privileged.

Spotting an ad for a job with her local Children's, Youth and Families Dept. (CYFD) as a recruiter for adoptive and foster parents, she applied and landed the job. Her first task: Upgrading the bad quality photos of the kids on the registry.

"The kids never stood a chance," she says of the original photos. She recruited professional photographers and had portraits done of every child, showing the hope and aspiration in their eyes and the essence of their budding personalities.

Then she had another brainstorm. She engaged a local gallery to do an exhibition of the portraits in an effort to attract potential adoptive parents. The idea took off and the first Heart Gallery was born in 2001. The opening attracted 1,200 people and half a dozen children were found forever families that night.

"When I saw the emotion on the viewers' faces and felt it in myself," Granito recalls. "I knew we were on to something."

Since its inception nine years ago, the Heart Gallery has spread to 120 locations around the United States.

One of the Kids Diane Placed for Adoption Says:
"We have to go and get some more kids!," he told his adoptive family after he read an invitation to a Heart Gallery exhibit.

U.S. Children's Bureau Adoption Excellence award and best practice honor in the field of social work, an award from the Adoption Means Love Foundation and several from The Adoption Exchange; Diane was named one of the 10 Who Make a Difference in 2005 by The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper.

Fun Fact: Diane doesn't just help rescue kids, she is also a home-design hobbyist. She recently gave new life to a 1939 adobe house.

Diane's Guilty Pleasures: Diane likes words, so to relax she does crossword puzzles and plays Scrabble.

Best Advice: "For every sad story about a child being abused or neglected, I see a wonderful family who wants to change that."

Author Rosy Cole lives on the West Sussex Coast in England, where she writes articles, poetry and novels. Read her blog on Red Room.

Related: Amazing Moms: Nursing Mothers of Marquette, Mich.

Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Moms!


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