In a small coffee shop in Driggs, Idaho, Diana Peck wraps her hands around a warm cup of joe, her bright smile framed by the cafe windows that showcase an epic powder day in the Tetons.
“Don’t you just love this,” Peck beams, her eyes widening as she turns toward the unrelenting snowstorm just outside.
It’s hard not to respond to her easy enthusiasm as she turns back and leans into our conversation and confides, “I’m not really great at skiing. Yet.”
And as the snow falls on the cusp of a classic winter in the Tetons, Peck sits on the cusp of an incredible future as she prepares to assume her new post as executive director of the Teton County Library Foundation on Feb. 1. Peck’s unique journey to the Tetons has been shaped to meet this very moment, professionally and personally, and she is thankful to find a position that will continue to move a celebrated history and community-minded mission forward.
“I have shoes to fill always, and so I’m excited to learn,” Peck said. “I love to find out what people want to explore, and I know that the board of directors and donors have their passion projects that they would like to see the organization accomplish. I’m someone who gets things done.”
Founded in 1982, the Teton County Library Foundation provides critical funding that directly enhances Teton County Library programs and services and is a major fundraising arm for the tax-supported library system.
The foundation has introduced and supported such initiatives as Writers in the School, Free Tax Prep and the ever popular Page to the Podium while hosting some of the most important fundraising events in Jackson, including the annual holiday gala at the Four Seasons, which has earned close to $1.8 million since 2003.
“When I was considering my next career move, I took a look at my professional life and knew that my most fulfilling periods of work was work that I accomplished through nonprofits,” Peck said. “I also feel it’s important to be passionate about what you do, and that’s what I was looking for, something I could be passionate about. When I saw the foundation’s position I was so excited. It had everything — literacy, storytelling, education — so I applied and here we are.
“We are at this point in history where people think, because of the pandemic, that libraries are becoming obsolete,” she continued, her eyes narrowed and focused in a more serious tone. “But in fact, the library has become this connection for the people, a way for people to connect to one another. The library is more than books; it’s about community connections.”
Peck will take over the position from acting Executive Director Maggie Schilling, who will resume her role as the assistant director of the foundation.
“After an extensive and competitive search this fall, we are thrilled that Diana Peck has accepted the position to lead the Library Foundation,” foundation board Chair and ED Hiring Committee member Amy Staehr said in a news release in December.
Peck’s enthusiasm and professionalism stood out to the hiring committee throughout the process, Staehr said.
With Peck’s extensive professional experience in advocacy and fundraising, program development, media, community and government relations, communications, and special event coordination, she was an undeniable contender for the foundation position.
Peeling back her experiences further, Peck has more than 15 years in public relations, sales, and business and nonprofit management. While serving as executive director of Kings County Farm Bureau, a powerful advocacy group tucked between San Francisco and Los Angeles, she represented and supported the needs of agricultural businesses and communities of California’s rural Central Valley.
“I believe 100% in making connections with people,” Peck said of her lifelong success. “I love establishing relationships, and that’s what makes me so excited about Jackson. I’m a very social person, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to build relationships.”
Peck, who has been based in Tetonia, Idaho, since 2019, also recently pursued her dream of working in travel and tourism as an international tour manager for Holland America Princess, Adventures by Disney, and Green Light Student Tours, before the pandemic curbed the travel industry in 2020.
“During the past four years I’ve had the unique opportunity of leading families and students on memorable, once-in-a-lifetime travel and educational experiences,” Peck said, acknowledging that it was through her tour guiding that she found and fell in love with the Jackson Hole area. “This new adventure has provided me with an even greater appreciation for the magic of storytelling in connecting us to the people and places we discover.”
It was here with a tour group she was leading through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks that she and her husband looked at each other and said, “Why not?” to the possibility of relocating to the Tetons. The Pecks have four “grown and flown” sons, so with an empty nest they found their reprieve on the north end of Teton Valley. (But not for long, because as soon as the Pecks moved to the Tetons, so did their sons, who now enthusiastically ski the Tetons with their mom and dad — three sons at home in Tetonia and one son now in Bozeman, Montana.)
Here on the quiet side of the Tetons, Peck said, she found some time to take a deep breath and reconsider her career post-pandemic while offering up some of her favorite hikes in the hills including Delta Lake and the classic Table Mountain via Teton Canyon in Alta.
The conversation takes an easy turn to comparing what and who we are reading and how many new books we have stacked on our night stands. For the record, Peck recently consumed “A Night to Remember’’ by Walter Lords in two days and is working through a stack of fiction and nonfiction including “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell, and “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.