Our Centennial Winner
Courageous. Compassionate. Collaborative.
These are just a few of the words used to describe Diann Takens’ relentless advocacy for children and families caught in the cycle of generational poverty. In 1992, Diann founded Peace of the City on the West Side of Buffalo, modeled after an urban ministry program where she had worked as an intern. What started as a Homework Club to support children from low-income families experiencing trauma has grown to include creative and theatrical arts programming, literacy instruction, and teen empowerment programming comprised of three small businesses run by teens. Last year alone, over 150 children and teens participated in the programs. As the population of the community in which she works and lives has evolved to be more diverse, the programs have also changed accordingly with offerings such as English Language Learners. Diann has spent the last 27 years working around the clock to build youth skills and instill confidence in the community members she serves. She looks at situations through the eyes of children first, remaining a constant in their lives into adulthood. Today, Peace of the City employs young people and has board members who grew up benefitting from its programming. Diann fully embodies what it means to be welcoming and inclusive. She has created an environment of love, acceptance and family that many of the youth will carry with them the rest of their lives.