Diane Smith Joens Biography
Diane Smith Joens was raised in Sierra Vista, Arizona, when it was still called Fry. As a child she waded in the San Pedro River and picnicked with her family in the Huachuca Mountains. She still enjoys exploring Arizona’s mountains, canyons, valleys and rivers. Living in the Verde Valley provides many opportunities to enjoy the fabulous outdoors.
Diane attended grade school in Sierra Vista-Ft. Huachuca. Appreciating cultural diversity is a way of life for Diane, who learned the three R’s with a very diverse population of children from all over the United States. Diane attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista. When she was 15 her parents moved to Iowa where she finished high school and then married. She and her husband Paul farmed 15 years. They raised corn, soybeans, hogs, chickens and Irish Setters. She missed the bright sunny days of her childhood home, so they sold their farming operation and moved to Cottonwood where they have lived for 22 years. Paul and Diane have been married 37 years. Their daughter, April
Leigh, and sons, Davey (see Memorial page) and Timothy, are deceased.
During four years of service to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, Diane gained a comprehensive understanding of the intricate workings of local government. Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis has been an excellent mentor in local government leadership. Her past experience also includes news reporting, banking, and loan processing. She administered federally-regulated housing programs for the elderly and disabled at the Verde Valley Manor and worked for the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Family Assistance Division. Diane is a state retiree. For 22 years Diane and Paul have owned a small Cottonwood-based business, High Desert Landscaping. Diane’s husband served in Vietnam (see Veteran’s page).
Diane has taken a variety of college courses at Iowa Western Community College and Yavapai College. Diane started attending college in the early ’80s by driving 30 miles to Harlan, Iowa, from the farm she and her family lived on outside of Manilla, Iowa. Her young son Davey was so proud of his mom when she attended her first class. Diane is a life-long learner and has taken classes in psychology, Spanish, creative writing, Planning & Zoning, college composition, business, marketing, supervision and computers. During her 22-year career, she was educated and certified in determining eligibility for Arizona Department of Economic Security programs and Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rural Development housing programs.
She is a graduate of an intensive two-year statewide University of Arizona leadership program, Project CENTRL, (Center for Rural Leadership). Diane was editor and publisher of a community-based project for her CENTRL internship, the Verde River Almanac. A partnership between the University of Arizona and the non-profit Center for Rural Leadership Foundation, Project CENTRL prepares rural Arizonans for leadership positions in government, agricultural and civic organizations.
Through Project CENTRL, Diane spent a week each in Louisiana and Washington D.C. She saw New Orleans pre-Katrina. In Washington D.C. she visited Sen. John McCain and Congressman Rick Renzi; the Departments of State, Interior and Agriculture; Federal Reserve Board; Library of Congress; Canadian Embassy and U.S. Supreme Court. Diane was honored to meet with then Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, an accomplished woman that she much admires. Diane networks with 400 other Project CENTRL graduates throughout the state of Arizona. Many hold public office.
Taking her Standard Poodle, Tessa, for walks by the Verde River is one of Diane’s favorite pastimes. She also enjoys spending time with her “adopted” grandchildren, Stephanie and Katelynn. An avid amateur photographer, Diane attends many community activities with camera in-hand. She has taken hundreds of pictures of the Verde River from the headwaters to its confluence with the Salt River. Her river photos have been used by a number of statewide organizations for their projects. Area newspapers have published some of Diane’s photos and articles. She especially enjoys writing articles about people’s lives and accomplishments, like the city of Cottonwood’s Spotlight on Volunteers series. Every person has a unique story to tell. She also enjoys reading and writing about the Verde River.