Meet Diane Court
8 years ago Diane Court and I met at a meet-up group called Digital Media Bistro (or DM Bistro) in Downtown Orlando. I remember after the event we sat around and had a great one-on-one conversation around Tech and Orlando that lasted about an hour. It’s no surprise to see where she’s at now and I’m excited to share her story and what she’s up to!
Defining The Orlando Life
Diane Court is a community leader and currently the COO of the Orlando Regional Tech Association. She grew up in the Washington DC area and was part of the first class of women who entered as Freshman at Dartmouth College in 1972. While Diane’s major was in French Language and Literature, her introduction to technology was pretty fascinating due to the President of the college at the time, who had been an assistant to the one and only, Albert Einstein.
A Unique Introduction to Technology
Before Moving to Orlando
Her first work out of Graduate school was creating a television program for CSPAN, who was covering news at the Capital. Unlike today, there were no cameras inside the Capital that were recording at all times. This caused quite a bit of dead airtime with the news channel, which opened the door for Diane to be a part of new call-in program that filled these slots.
With Ronald Reagan in Office, and a fan of the camera, Diane ended up producing the same program across the street from the White House at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where they had converted their 4th floor to television facilities.
After the recording, Diane would take the tape to Bonneville Satellite, put it up on a Satellite, have it picked up by Public Radio and she would turn around and sell it to Public TV Stations across the country.
Moving to Orlando
10 years later she moved down to Orlando with her husband who took a job with Disney while she continued to work with TV and events. By 2010, her interest in where technology was going, primarily in the local region, took hold and she began to look for ways to get involved.
Orlando Tech began in 2011 with four friends who were entrepreneurial thinkers and developers in town. The heart and soul of Orlando Tech was behind these meet-ups, where the group would talk about what they were doing/building. It became an association around 2012/13 when it was funded through the Main Street Program in Orlando. It was given a home at what was then CANVAS, down at the exchange, and was run by Orrett Davis.
The Orlando Regional Tech Association became the largest local tech meet-up, and overtime, the ecosystem and community changed with its growth. With such a large geographical pull, and more people seeing the value and purpose, smaller pockets of community meet-ups formed out of necessity and the future of the Association was starting to re-shape.
Diane Joins Orlando Regional Tech Association as COO
By the time Diane Court took over at Orlando Regional Tech Association in 2017, the audience had evolved. She felt the organization should take another look at the business model to build something that would create more of a sustainable approach. They looked at large companies, local startups and individuals across the entire central Florida region who were involved in tech, and in 2018 launched their new approach.
The Transformation of Orlando Regional Tech Association
Looking for Your Community
In this video Diane shares how she connected with her community and offers advice to others who are looking for theirs:
Diane recommends a few different books, and a couple specifically for us Floridians. She points out that Florida has its curiosities, and you hear about it at times through the infamous “Florida Man” commentary often found in the news. While we have our oddities, she recommends everyone read Weird Florida as well as books by Carl Hiaasen, whose narratives are about the odd things and not always the good things that we do, but still written with a love for Florida.
In this video Diane talks about one of her favorite authors and a book she’s currently reading
Extending the Orlando Story
Wrapping up the interview, Diane put a perfect bow on it. Her statement is exactly why The Orlando Life exists. She is a jewel in our city and I’m grateful for the opportunity to introduce you to her!
Links: John Kemeny, BASIC, Richard Florida, George Monbiot