Alumni Couple Pay it Forward
Oct 1, 2015
By Laura Smith, Photo By Paul Wingler Flagler alumni Diane Evia-Lanevi, ‘87, and Ingemar Lanevi, ‘86, have come a long way since the mid-80s, when both were undergraduates at Flagler College. The couple, who met during their first week of school at Flagler, had something in common from day one: they both were immigrants to the United States — she as a toddler from Cuba, he as a teenager from Sweden. And they both benefited significantly from Flagler’s ability to offer them much-needed financial aid packages.
Now in a position to “pay it forward,” Diane and Ingemar continue to support their alma mater and to pursue philanthropy and leadership in other venues, as well. In the last two decades, they have pledged generous funds to name the conference room in the Solarium and to fund an annual scholarship to a minority student. They have made leadership gifts to the Flagler Fund and to the Thomas E. King Memorial Scholarship. And they have been members of the Flagler Heritage Society (Flagler’s planned giving society) since its founding.
Diane has made philanthropy a focus of her professional and personal life. She serves on several non-profit boards in Durham, N.C., and was recognized in 2015 by the organization Hispanics in Philanthropy for founding of The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students in North Carolina. The Tomorrow Fund has awarded $660,000 in scholarships for low-income Hispanic students. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics recently selected The Tomorrow Fund as one of 230 programs recognized as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.”
She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C.
After graduating from Flagler, Ingemar earned his MBA at Purdue and worked at both HP and Silicon Graphics before launching his latest venture, Transcirrus, a cloud computing set-up and management company. Like Diane, he remains committed to supporting his undergraduate alma mater Flagler College, an institution he credits with helping to jump-start his assimilation into American culture.
“I had a language barrier as a college freshman, being newly arrived from Sweden,” he said. “I remember a psychology class with Dr. Jerry Noloboff in my first semester. I was struggling through a cycle of listening to a portion of the lecture, then painstakingly translating that in my head from English to Swedish, and in the process I was missing big chunks of the lecture.”
He said he was very close to packing his bags and heading back to Sweden, but instead went and talked to Noloboff and the rest of his professors. “They were all extremely sympathetic and very helpful,” he said. “Once the pressure was off, I caught on quickly. I started listening, thinking and taking notes in English. It’s an experience I remember very well; it shaped my belief that providing extra assistance to those who need it can have a tremendous payoff in the future.”
Diane agrees, noting that the help she and her husband received at Flagler College opened the doors of opportunity that ultimately allowed the couple to achieve great successes in business and philanthropy.
“One of the things I’ve learned about working in philanthropy, and that I think Flagler College really taught me, is that sometimes we’re challenged to do things we didn’t think we could do,” said Diane. “I’m a prime example. Through philanthropy we can really help to change lives.”