Our Vision

For Oakland’s Dimond District to be a vibrant, safe, and beautiful place for everyone to live, work, shop, and play.

Our Mission

We are a community-based, non-profit organization, with membership and participation open to all. We bring together residents, businesses, agencies, and other groups to engage in collective efforts to beautify our neighborhood, promote a thriving commercial district, improve public safety, and build a stronger sense of community and belonging.

Our Values

Inclusiveness: We seek diversity on our board and in community involvement, with openness to all voices and interests.

Respect: We treat each other, and the community, with consideration and kindness.

Collaboration: We prize teamwork, transparency, and the sharing of opportunities to shape our work.

Leadership: We each take initiative and responsibility for aspects of the organization, and aim to inspire each other and the community to make a difference.

Impact: We focus on making significant and meaningful contributions to the community, continually assessing and improving our effectiveness.

Our Motto

Involvement Builds Community


The Dimond Improvement Association has many committees and projects to benefit the community. Take a look at our Projects & Committees page and see what might interest you! There are opportunities to volunteer from once a year to once a week.

Serving on Our Board

If you are interested in becoming a board member, please contact our chair, Ryan Romaneski, at  RyanR@DimondNews.org. Our board election takes place every April, with nominations open several months in advance. New board members may also be appointed by the board at other times of the year if there are vacancies. See more about joining the board.

Public Information

  • Our board meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at the Dimond Branch Public Library at 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA, 7-9pm. (Note: During the pandemic, the board is meeting via Zoom.) Committee meetings take place as determined by the individual committees.
  • The public is invited to our board meetings. If you would like to request an item added to the agenda, please email our chair, Ryan Romaneski, at RyanR@DimondNews.org.
  • Board meeting minutes are posted to the website approximately one month after the meeting, following board review and approval. See elsewhere on this page for minutes dating back to 2015, when we became an incorporated nonprofit.

General Meetings

DIA General Meetings are held approximately five times a year, on the first Wednesdays of Feburary, April, June, August, and October, unless otherwise announced. The meetings are typically at the Dimond Branch Public Library, 7-9pm. See the Events Calendar for upcoming meetings and topics. Note: During the pandemic, general meetings are being held virtually via Zoom


December 2021
October 2021
August 2021
June 2021
April 2021
February 2021
November 2020
August 2020
April 2020
February 2020
November 2019
August 2019
May 2019
February 2019
November 2018
August 2018
May 2018
February 2018
November 2017
August 2017 (Fall)
May 2017 (Summer)

Board of Directors 2020


Jay Ashford

Jay has lived in the Dimond district since 2005. Since moving to Oakland, Jay has served on several City of Oakland boards and commissions, including the Public Ethics Commission, the Budget Advisory Commission, and the Community Policing Advisory Board. He has been active in his daughters’ elementary and middle school PTA organizations, and volunteered for several local and statewide political advocacy organizations. Professionally, he is the founder of ATS Partners, Inc., which provides technology project management and business process improvement consulting services to its clients. 

Jay’s vision for the Dimond is to create a vibrant, inclusive destination commercial district that draws residents from across Oakland, and to strengthen a shared sense of community among local residents.

Zandile Christian

Zandile has been a resident of the Dimond for 26 years and has served on the DIA board for eleven years. She has participated in many efforts and on many committees, including Executive, Finance, Database, Membership, Keep Dimond Clean, Oaktoberfest, Crime & Safety, Dimond Public Art and Art in the Street.

Zandile’s vision is to have the Dimond be clean and safe for all and to maintain the district’s charming characteristics.

Tomasz Finc

Tomasz has lived with his wife and daughter in the Dimond since 2016 and the Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland area since 2000. He’s volunteered for local organizations like Code 2040, Wikimedia Foundation, and the Circus Center along with local industrial arts groups like Flaming Lotus Girls and the Crucible. At the DIA, he focuses on technology needs, Economic and Business Development, and Membership and Outreach. Tomasz has been on the DIA board since 2018.

Tomasz’s vision for the Dimond is to retain the diversity that motivated his family to move here, fill in the empty storefronts and vacant lots with thriving businesses, and upkeep Dimond Park and creek.

Sara Goldware

Sara moved to the Dimond in September of 2020 with her husband and three year old daughter. She grew up in the East Bay suburbs and has lived in Oakland for eight years with no plans to leave. Sara’s career is focused on improving education and career outcomes for transition age youth. For six years, she led education and employment programming at a nonprofit serving youth with experience in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. She currently directs workforce education efforts at Ohlone College in Fremont, with the goal of improving access to workforce training, degrees, and certificates for underserved youth and adults. 

Sara’s vision for the Dimond is a diverse, affordable community that allows all residents to access a vibrant and safe neighborhood with a thriving commercial district and clean parks and streets.

David Gross

David has been a resident of the Dimond since 2006.   Both of his children attended Sequoia Elementary, where he has been active as a volunteer parent for the Dad’s Club and after-school chess classes.   He has also served as a baseball coach in the NOLL / SOLL Little League for the past several years.   Professionally, David is a practicing attorney specializing in commercial real estate transactions in California and throughout the United States.   

David’s vision for the Dimond is to support and grow a thriving business district, maintain clean and safe parks and public spaces, and to encourage the involvement of all residents in making the Dimond a safe and welcoming neighborhood for everyone. 

Chris Harper

Chris remembers visiting the Dimond as far back as 1972 when his grandmother lived on Dimond Avenue. In 1986, as a young teacher he made the Dimond his permanent residence, and in subsequent years he married and raised two children. In 1998, Chris joined the faculty of Head-Royce School, where he has taught Physics, Astronomy, and Robotics ever since. Chris served on the DIA board from 2011 to 2015, and rejoined in 2018. Most of that time he has served as Board Chair. Improving the fiscal management within the DIA and transitioning to a new listserv have been two significant achievements for Chris.

Chris’ vision for the Dimond is to further its growth as a community built by involvement. This means facilitating communication between community members, DIA members, merchants, visitors, and the many organizations that have the Dimond as their focus.

Julie Johnson

Julie was born in Oakland and is a 25-year resident of the Dimond, where she raised her two daughters. She loves Oakland and working to benefit our community. A DIA board member for 14 years, she is currently Treasurer, Finance Committee member, and Beautification Committee member. She has also been active on the Economic Development Committee and Oaktoberfest Committee. In the accounting field for 30+ years, Julie works as finance department head at Ray’s Electric. Her hobbies include masters swimming, gardening, hiking, travel, cooking and baking, sewing, decorating, and paper collage.

Julie’s vision for the Dimond is a thriving business district with a variety of cool offerings, including interesting retail and dining experiences. She would love to help usher in more public art and is passionate about retaining some of Dimond’s architectural aspects from the past.

Marjorie Jones

Marjorie has been a resident of the Dimond for 26 years. She was active in various parent groups at both Sequoia Elementary and Bret Harte Middle schools, where her three daughters attended. Her small business, MarjTax, provides tax preparation and bookkeeping services for non-profits. She feels fortunate to work with a variety of amazing agencies with a diversity of missions, including: at-risk youth, scientific research, animal rescue, environmental education, human trafficking rescue, and municipal improvement districts. She also serves as treasurer for the Dimond Business & Professional Association. Marjorie joined the DIA board in 2020.

Marjorie’s vision for the Dimond is a place that continues to have amazing grocery options and a variety of affordable diners. Going forward, she envisions fun and appealing places for young folks to safely gather and regular entertainment events for families.

Alex Park

Alex has been a Dimond resident for most of his life, beginning in the early 1990s. He’s worked as a journalist and researcher in the Bay Area and around the country. You can read some of his work at his website, www.alexcpark.com. Alex has volunteered with the DIA’s beautification committee since 2018 and has been involved with most of its major projects in that time. 

Alex’s vision for the Dimond is a refuge for in-person connection with friends and neighbors of all backgrounds, where people feel welcome and all who live, work, and enjoy the neighborhood can be confident their voice is heard and their wants and needs are recognized. 

Erica Perez

Erica has lived in the Dimond since 2013 and in Oakland since 2009. She and her husband John founded Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland in 2011, and Erica works full-time as co-owner. The shop provides fresh, small-batch spices and herbs for home cooks and chefs alike. She currently has two children at Sequoia Elementary School. She enjoys good food, spending time with friends and family and going for runs in the neighborhood.

Erica’s vision for the Dimond is a safe, inclusive and welcoming neighborhood where residents of diverse backgrounds feel they belong, and where a thriving, attractive business district adds to the joy of everyday life.

Bret Peterson

Bret has lived in the Dimond with his wife since 2015, where they are raising their growing family. He moved to the Bay Area in 2010 from Hawaii, where he worked on a submarine in the Navy. After completing his PHD at UC Berkeley he now works as a microbiologist at a cancer immunotherapy company in Berkeley. He is a daily bike commuter and loves taking trips on AC transit with his son on the weekends. Bret cares deeply about homelessness and housing affordability and spends time volunteering to promote pro-housing policies and zoning reform.

Bret’s vision for the Dimond is a healthy, bustling and diverse commercial and residential center where the pedestrians’ pleasure and safety is prioritized over expediency for privately owned vehicles, and where enough housing exists to support a diverse range of Oakland residents that have a shared stake in their neighborhood.

Ryan Romaneski

Ryan moved to the Dimond in 2016, after three years working in Oakland and living in San Francisco. Originally from Washington state, Ryan has worked in technology, real estate, and community development, including as Executive Director of the Pioneer School Community Association and the Pioneer Square Business Improvement District in Seattle. Ryan is currently Regional Director of Operations for KIPP Public Schools, an Oakland-based nonprofit network of 17 charter public schools operating across the Bay Area and Northern California. Ryan joined the DIA board in 2017, and has served as Chair since 2020.

Ryan’s vision for the Dimond is a robust, safe, and highly walkable commercial district, with increased density and mixed-use development that brings more residents to the transit-rich neighborhood, and a DIA that is an engaged and responsive voice of the community.

Ben Stein-Lobovits

Originally from San Francisco, Ben returned to the Bay Area in 2009 and became a homeowner in the Dimond in 2017. He has worked in the tech sector since 2008, most recently as the Lead Web and Analytics Engineer at Ripple, a finance-tech company in downtown San Francisco. Ben is a hospice volunteer at Pathways, where he visits patients with his canine good citizen, a goldendoodle named Cow. He also volunteers at the Oakland Hebrew Day School. Using his tech skills to give back to the community, Ben has created websites for a number of nonprofits, including Doctors of the World and the International School Counselor Association. Ben lives with his wife and baby daughter. He enjoys gardening, listening to his record collection, and building furniture.

Ben’s vision for the Dimond is to improve this already thriving community by creating safer walking spaces, cultivating new businesses and supporting those already in the area, and ensuring that the community remains inclusive for all. 

JoAnn Tracht-Rawson

JoAnn has lived in the DImond for over 10 years. Before moving to the East Bay, she was a board member on the Ocean Avenue Revitalization Collaborative in San Francisco and helped form a successful Community Benefits District (CBD). She has been on the DIA board for nine years and helps lead the Keep Dimond Clean fundraiser. She is co-chair of the Beautification Committee and also serves on the Membership and Outreach Committee. JoAnn has a background in Graphic Design and was instrumental in the design and launch of the DIA website and the new bi-monthly e-newsletter.

JoAnn’s vision for the Dimond is the growth and renewed health of a vibrant commercial district, serving a diverse community and inspiring involvement with its residents. Seeing its growth as a leader of community art installations and maintaining its natural beauty with Sausal Creek and Dimond Canyon.

Lindsey Vontz

Originally from Massachusetts, Lindsey moved to Dimond to start a family with her husband in 2017 after three years in the Grand Lake neighborhood and 10 years in San Francisco.  Lindsey has spent most of her professional career in brand and growth marketing – managing creative teams, planning memorable events, and producing useful and compelling content.  Lindsey is currently working as Head of Brand for a multinational Ed-Tech company and raising two girls. She enjoys entertaining friends and neighbors, hiking around JMP, and gardening. 

Lindsey’s vision for the Dimond is for existing businesses in the district to reach their full potential, to usher in interesting new occupants in the vacant spots, and for residents to feel empowered and invested in creating a beautiful, vibrant neighborhood that is safe, clean and inclusive for all.

Victoria Wake

Victoria is an East Bay native and 20-year Dimond resident. She is retired from AC Transit, where she managed service information, marketing, and outreach programs. Her long-time interests include the environment, public transportation, and history. She joined the DIA board in 2006, and currently serves on the Beautification and Public Safety committees. She is very concerned about the community’s (and the city’s) urban forest, seeing street trees dying at an increased rate and current city restrictions preventing equivalent replanting. 

Victoria’s vision for the Dimond includes people walking and taking the bus more, and driving less, and generally knowing each other and local businesses better. She would like to see greater environmental stewardship and a flourishing greenscape. She hopes more of the community will get engaged in local projects and activities because it’s gratifying and fun!

Kevin Whittinghill

Originally from Santa Cruz, Kevin has lived in New York and San Francisco before becoming a homeowner in the Dimond district in 2019. He has a background in theater, film, stand-up, and graphic design, and currently works as a publisher for Horsley Bridge Partners, a global private equity fund-of-funds, in San Francisco. He’s also produced live theater and comedy events, including the nerd comedy shows “Eureka!” and “You Should Know This!” When he’s not spending time with his wife and baby daughter, he loves to cook, travel, and write. Kevin joined the DIA board in 2020.

Kevin’s vision is to continue the work of others in creating a thriving and prosperous commercial district and making sure the Dimond is a safe and beautiful place for those in the community.

DIA Accomplishments 

Dimond Branch Library

In the 1980s, the DIA worked with the City of Oakland to move the Dimond Library to a new site with improved facilities, a larger space to house the library collection, and a community meeting place. The Dimond Library is now an extremely busy branch library and provides educational and fellowship programs for all age groups, also hosting community meetings and events in the large meeting room. The Dimond Branch Library celebrated its 100th year Anniversary in 2015. Website: http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/dimond-branch.

Closure of Hillcrest Motel
In 2003, a group of DIA members and neighbors were able to work together in closing the Hillcrest Motel. The DIA partnered with Boston Avenue neighbors, the Oakland Police Department, our Oakland City Council members and other supporters to shut down a motel that had become a mecca for drug traffickers and prostitutes. In 2004, the motel was leveled and a senior housing facility, Lincoln Court, was built at the former Hillcrest Motel site. The DIA continues to work with the directors and residents of Lincoln Court to include these seniors in Dimond activities.
Dimond Public Safety Council / 22X NCPC

The DIA formed the Dimond Public Safety Council incorporating the Oakland Police Department Beat 22X into a neighborhood crime prevention council. After a number of years of working with the City, this council became its own organization encompassing several surrounding neighborhoods. It is now the Neighborhood Council 22X (NC22X). Both the DIA and NC22X work to address crime issues in the Dimond District including burglaries, robberies, aggressive panhandling, and quality of life issues. Website: http://ncpc22x.org.


Fruitvale Alive Project & Champion Transit Plaza
Between 2004 and 2013, the DIA worked with the City of Oakland and Alameda County to create a pedestrian and bike friendly corridor starting in the Dimond District and continuing south along Fruitvale Avenue. The Dimond District is an Alameda County transit hub providing accessible means of travel for residents and visitors. The Fruitvale Alive Project was completed in 2013 with the dedication of the Champion Transit Plaza, a dramatic transit structure that now stands in the middle of the Dimond District surrounded by a garden area maintained by DIA volunteers.


Dimond Gateway Garden & Beautification in Dimond
DIA volunteers created a mini-park at the major intersection at MacArthur Blvd and Lincoln Avenue, supported by both the DIA and Dimond merchants. This is known as the Dimond Gateway Garden. The land is owned by the City of Oakland, but maintained by community members. In addition, DIA volunteers have established and continue to maintain many planted pots and flower containers on various corners and sidewalks in the Dimond District.


Economic Development

From 2002 to 2013 the DIA has surveyed residents, built relationships with commercial property owners, and has actively encouraged businesses and merchants to establish their businesses in the Dimond District. As a result, Farmer Joe’s, a major family-owned market; La Farine Bakery; Peet’s Coffee & Tea; Paws & Claws; and, additional coffee spots, a variety of restaurants, a copy shop, and a purveyor of handmade ice cream have energized the neighborhood. With the opening of Oaklandish in 2013, there is hope with combined effort between the leadership of the DIA and the merchants, more businesses will choose to locate in the Dimond District. The Dimond’s economic development is an ongoing focus of the DIA. If you are a DIA member and would like to help the Dimond’s economic growth, you can do so by joining the DIA board and serving on the Economic Development Committee.


Public Art
The DIA fosters and encourages Public Art and is supportive of many local artists. The Dimond is home to several large public murals depicting its history, diverse cultures, and vibrancy; and, a mural featuring the diverse cultures in Dimond. In addition, there is an exhibit created by children “Stars of Dimond”; a photographic exhibit featuring residents and local scenes; directional sidewalk mosaics; and, mosaics on several of the City utility structures. DIA–A Nonprofit, continues to work with local artists to bring more Public Art to Dimond.


District Maintenance

DIA’s Keep Dimond Clean (KDC) program came to exist when the City of Oakland could no longer provide maintenance beyond garbage can pick-up and street sweeping. KDC was organized in 2009 as a volunteer-driven project to remove litter, graffiti, cigarette butts, and debris. Some 30 volunteers pick up about 12,000 pounds of sidewalk litter each year. Volunteers also remove graffiti from signs, posts, newspaper stands, utility boxes, etc. Starting in 2012, DIA and the Dimond Business & Professional Association (DB&PA) pooled resources to hire a paid crew to remove litter and debris five days a week, supplementing the volunteer teams on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In 2019, graffiti removal from public infrastructure and storm drain clearing were added to the paid services. Since 2012, an annual fundraiser has raised about one-third of the paid-crew cost from residents and merchant contributions. DIA believes that a clean commercial district is key to economic vitality, livability, and safety.