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Diana Josephson, NCAR Associate Director, 19362006

March 8, 2006

BOULDER—Diana H. Josephson, known for her vision in revitalizing organizations ranging from government agencies to nonprofits, died on Monday March 6, at her home in Boulder, Colorado, from complications of cancer. She was 69. Josephson spent much of her career in the Washington, D.C., area, beginning in 1959. Her career spanned over forty years in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Navy, Environmental Defense, and other public and private institutions. At her death, Josephson was one of five associate directors of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and head of NCAR's Societal and Environmental Research Laboratory.

"We are devastated at the loss of this brilliant and incisive leader," comments NCAR director Timothy Killeen. "Both during her short year at NCAR and before that as a member of our advisory council, Diana brought clarity, lucidity, and decisiveness that bypassed conventional thinking. We will greatly miss her friendship and warmth." At the time of her death she had embarked on a new thrust for NCAR to bring climate impacts to policymakers and citizens in new and relevant ways.

Josephson was born in London, England, and began her career as a lawyer, holding degrees from Oxford and George Washington Universities and being a member of the bar of both the United Kingdom and the United States. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1962.

Early on, her interests turned to community organization. In 1968 she joined the Washington, D.C., city government, first coordinating youth programs citywide and later overseeing programs run by 22 agencies and setting up a process by which citizens could participate in the budgeting process. After running the American Civil Liberties Union for the National Capital Area for three years, she joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1978, where she managed the weather satellite service and the commercialization of the Landsat satellite system through 1982.

Diana Josephson
Diana Josephson. (Photo courtesy of the family)

After a number of positions in the aerospace industry, Josephson rejoined NOAA as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere from 1993 to 1997, during the modernization of the National Weather Service, spearheading development of a $2 billion annual budget and developing NOAA's first strategic plan. Her contributions led to major improvements in climate forecasting and earned her a NOAA Special Recognition Award for lifetime service.

In 1997 she moved to the U.S. Navy as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Installations and Environments, a position that gave her status equivalent to a three-star admiral and allowed her to be recognized as such aboard naval vessels. Among her duties was finding an environmentally friendly way to dispose of napalm left from the Vietnam War. Her contributions at the Navy garnered her the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Navy's highest civilian honor.

Between 2000 and 2004 she served as Senior Vice President for Environmental Defense, which she reorganized to bring in new talent and to help create marketing campaigns that increased its endowment by almost 40%.

Josephson shared her life for 30 years with her partner, Jim Alexander, who died in 2001 and whom she sorely missed. Avid sailors, she and Alexander lived aboard sailboats for much of their life together—in Annapolis, Maryland, and on the Potomac during her years in Washington and at a marina in New Jersey during her years in New York.

She is survived by three siblings—a sister, Jean Hayward Branston, of Highworth, Wiltshire, England, and two brothers, Roger Hayward Bailey of London, and John Hayward Bailey of Oxford—as well as numerous loving nephews and nieces in the United Kingdom.

A celebration of her life will be held in Boulder on Monday, March 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the UCAR Center Green auditorium, 3080 Center Green Drive. Services in Washington, D.C., will be held on Saturday, April 29, at 2:00 p.m. at the Friends Meeting of Washington, 2111 Florida Ave., NW.


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