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A Go West Mom You Should Know: DiDi Foley

Diana Foley has a lot on her plate.

She is the Aurora/Copley Campus Manager for Waubonsee Community College. She recently completed work on her master’s degree. And she also works part-time as as DJ at radio station WTMX (101.9 FM). Did I mention she has two young children? Foley and her husband Sean are parents to Duncan, who is nearly 6, and Roxanne, who is 18 months old. Sean is the director of human resources for a security company in Chicago.

Photo by Waubonsee Community College.Nearly everyone calls Foley, 35, by her awesome nickname “DiDi.” She grew up in Naperville but graduated from high school a year early because she was so desperate to get out on her own. Now she and her husband are back raising their children in Naperville – proof that you really can go home again.

Read on to find out why we think DiDi Foley is a Go West Mom You Should Know.

Q. I hear you jut finished your master’s degree. Congratulations! How on earth did you manage to get an advanced degree while working two jobs and having two children? Any advice to share with other moms trying to keep many balls in the air?

A. I just completed my Masters in Leadership Studies from North Central College.  I look back and don't know how I did it, but I know that I could not have done it without the support of my husband, children and my mom and stepdad. They were all instrumental in the logistics and the support.  My co-workers and supervisor at Waubonsee also gave me a lot of encouragement.  I took one class a quarter (minus two due to bed-rest and the birth of my daughter) and it took three years to compete the program. While I was unable to always give 100% to everything (something has to give, right??) I just kept plowing through. I knew it was all temporary and the education that I was getting will be an asset during my life and also to my children's.

I am not sure how to relax. I need to practice! I enjoy being busy and am always moving.  I think the busier that I am, the better I function. I don't think I can pass any specific advice on to someone with out knowing her situation. What works for me might not work for her. However, you must believe in yourself that you will accomplish your goals. Just stay focused and persevere!

Q. Can you describe your role at Waubonsee Community College? What do you most enjoy about your job there?

Foley and her husband Sean on their wedding day. She says it's the first and last time she rode a motorcycle in heels. Photo provided.A. I am the Aurora/Copley Campus Manager and work with a great team that are primarily front-line staff members at the Aurora, Copley and Plano campuses and are the point people in the evenings and weekends at all four campuses. I enjoy working with many different people within the college, but I enjoy the students the most.  I like building relationships with them as they are working on completing their goals.

Q. Waubonsee's new downtown Aurora campus just opened this summer. What do you like most about the location or the services offered there?

A. There is so much to like! It is a full-service campus for the students and community with state-of-the-art technology. It is a beautiful campus in the heart of the community, allowing us to serve the community’s needs more effectively. Students can get their full associates degree now at the new downtown Aurora Campus and there are numerous certificates they can receive as well. And … no gym membership needed!!  I am walking the building numerous times a day. It's four floors and a city-block long. Lots of exercising for me!

 Q. You also work part-time at WTMX. Have you worked in radio for a long time?

A. My "former life" was in radio. I lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for many years. My radio career started when I was 17 while I was working on my undergraduate degree at Columbia College in Chicago. I have worked at many stations and was the program director for some stations for about 10 years. I have been part-time at 101.9 The Mix for about 3 ½ years. It allows me to still be within radio while working full-time at Waubonsee.  Even though I love radio, it is not the most secure business and I was getting a bit burned out. I knew that for my family, I had to make a change. Working part-time at the Mix allows me to still have that creative outlet. 

Q. What's something about being a DJ that readers might surprised to learn?

A. Being on-air is a lot of work. There are a lot of technical needs, being on top of current news and pop culture, being "on" while you are on the air and multi-tasking. Radio has taught me to always be one or two steps ahead, always have a Plan B, to be focused and have fun.  I use the term "planned spontaneity" a lot, as you can only plan so much; then you just need to go with the flow. 

Q. Focusing on your family, can you tell me a bit about your children and their personalities?

Foley and her son Duncan. Photo provided.A. My children rock! Duncan is going into first grade and is full of energy. He really enjoys science and animals. He is full of energy and (hopefully) polite to everyone. He's very inquisitive and asks many questions as well as sweet and aware of others. 

Roxanne, who we can Roxi, is very determined and has no fear! We had a long journey adding her to our family and I believe our determination is evident in her personality. She talks up a storm and wants to do everything that Duncan does.  They wear me out, yet bring so much to our family. I do everything for them.

Q.  Can you describe your parenting style?

Evolving? I think you have to take everything when it comes, but I am loving, honest and talk with them all the time. I am learning along with my husband on how to answer questions and handle each situation. We want to be the cool fun parents (rocking out to our music embarrasses the kids, so I think we're failing at that!) while still having boundaries. I want my children to be well-rounded, tolerant and respectful children, yet we run around like crazy and have fun too!

Q. What was your experience growing up in Naperville, and how does that compare to being an adult in the suburb?

Foley's 18-month-old daughter Roxi. Photo provided.A. I moved out at 17, graduating a year early as I just needed to get out. I moved to Chicago went to Columbia College at 17. Looking back I still wonder how I survived but know it was the best decision for me. When my husband and I started dating he loved Naperville; I never thought we would live here. I have some of the best neighbors and it's funny -- three of us on our 12-house block graduated from Naperville Central a year early and moved out and quickly as possible. Now we're all back raising our families. Fun dynamics!

Q. Do you have any concerns about raising your own children there?

A. One thing I know we will have to deal with (and it's beginning now) are the different expectations living in an area like Naperville. I grew up in Naperville; my children will go to Central which is where I went. However, I had a hard time finding my place there. I was thankful I had a car to drive, but of course my little beater was parked next to corvettes, Saabs and BMWs that 16-year-old classmates had!

We live in a neighborhood with new construction homes as well as original homes built 50 years ago.  We're in one of the fix-em-uppers.  While we are able to provide for our children, we're creative with our quality time together.  I foresee "Keeping up with the Joneses" being an issue that we will need to deal with more.  I don't care what type of car you have, I don't care about your name brand clothes, I don't care that you make that much money. I care about the person you are. I want that to be instilled in my children.

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