By Catherine Shen
Growing up in a multigenerational Trinity family, it was natural for Diane “Dede” DePatie Consoli ’88, P’19, ’22 to stay involved with her alma mater. “Trinity has always been very important to my family. I basically grew up on campus,” she says with a laugh. “The experience was more than just getting an education. It was about making connections and creating lifelong friendships, which began with her service through Tri Delta sorority, now known as the Ivy Society.
The strong Trinity family legacy started with her father, Thomas DePatie ’52, a former trustee of the college, followed by brother-in-law Robert Buffum Jr. ’77 and cousin Peter DePatie ’85. She married Victor Consoli ’87, and they are Trinity parents to two daughters, Olivia ’19 and Grace ’22.
For the first 15 years after her own graduation, Consoli, armed with a degree in economics, embarked on a career in the garment industry, working retail and wholesale with companies including Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor in New York and eventually running the women’s division of Nautica Sportswear. Over time, she launched her own business, Boxtree Interiors, serving a variety of residential and commercial clients. She also volunteers as a manager of merchandise sales for her summer community of Quonochontaug, Rhode Island, where she once served as town clerk.
Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, Consoli says, her flexible schedule has allowed her to get more involved with committee work at Trinity. Throughout the years, she has served on the Trinity College Alumni Association Executive Committee and the Social Reform Charter Committee and as a member of the Long Walk Societies. She has been an admissions volunteer, an alumni interviewer, and an Elms Society ambassador. She currently serves as her class president, as a class agent, and as a member of the Board of Fellows, the Women’s Leadership Council, and the Parents Leadership Council.
She particularly enjoys being on the Parents Leadership Council because of the relationships formed among parents, students, and the college. “It’s important for families to know that we’re here for them, too,” says Consoli. “Being on the council is especially gratifying because I facilitate new families becoming connected with the college. Creating a welcoming environment for them will help them see the work we do and hopefully encourage them to become involved. The more new parents are involved, the better work we can do.”
Consoli says that philanthropy was a large part of her upbringing, and she continues to value that philosophy. “I’ve been a donor to the college for a lifetime, and I can’t imagine not helping our school,” she says. “When I saw there were specific improvements needed, that really spurred me on to become more involved. I love being the person who connects everyone and shows them what a wonderful place Trinity is.
“It is gratifying to be the one who connects a new family with a passion to a need we have at the college,” she continues. “Most people donate to specific things that resonate with them, and Trinity has so many specific needs right now that it is all about [matching] the right people to the fundraising efforts for that need. I feel very connected to my father through my fundraising for Trinity as that was his focus through his years as a trustee of the college. It’s my pleasure to continue that legacy for him.”
Kerry Smith, Trinity’s director of family giving, says Consoli plays an important role in creating a warm and friendly environment for parents. “She’s a valuable asset to the college through her ability to welcome and connect parents to one another,” says Smith. “Her advocacy and dedication to help Trinity become the best that it can be is an embodiment of all we desire in a volunteer. We’re very fortunate to have her.”