Champion of the Arts

Champion of the Arts

The Champion of the Arts Award recognizes a Texas Women for the Arts member who has made significant contributions to the arts statewide, and whose work has embodied the mission and vision of the organization.
Sponsored by Texas Monthly.
The 2017 Champion of the Arts is: Dian Graves Stai
Portrait of Dian Graves Stai

Dian Graves Stai is a native West Texan, born and raised in Midland.  In 1969, Dian and her late husband, Jean, co-founded Owen Healthcare, a pharmacy management company.  After Jean’s tragic death in an airplane crash, Dian, a single mother of two children, took the helm of the company.  Under her management, Owen Healthcare became a leader in the industry with over 3,500 employees and operations in 45 states.  In 1997, the company merged with Cardinal Healthcare and Dian re-focused her energies, creating Mansefeldt Investment Corporation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation, both headquartered in Abilene. This year the Dian Graves Owen Foundation is celebrating two significant milestones; its 20th anniversary and the cumulative donation of over $100 Million in grants to non-profit organizations, including significant support for the arts in Texas. The Foundation has provided brick and mortar funding for visual and performing arts venues in ten Texas communities.

Recipients of Foundation grants include professional performing arts organizations such as the Houston Grand Opera, the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, and Ars Lyrica.  Organizations receiving support for the visual arts include The Grace Museum, The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, the Center for Contemporary Art, and the Old Jail Art Center.

The Foundation also seeks to support education in the arts and artistic expression among students and non-professionals through significant grants to local and amateur organizations including the Fredericksburg Chorale, the Paramount Theatre, Abilene Community Theater, Fredericksburg Theater Company, Chorus Abilene, Houston Opera Studio, Abilene Ballet Theatre, and local high school and college performing groups and productions.

The Foundation helped to initiate the annual Children’s Art and Literature Festival in Abilene which encourages childhood literacy through exploration of both visual and performing art.  Last year’s Festival brought over 5,000 children to Abilene to participate in parades, performances, sculpture, painting and drawing in celebration of children’s author and illustrator, Mark Teague.

Dian, together with legendary businessman Warren Buffet, was recently inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.  Also a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and the Committee of 200, Dian has served on the board of Zale Lipshy University Hospital in Dallas and was a founding commissioner of the Texas Department of Commerce.  Dian’s philanthropic and business leadership have also led to recognition as Abilene’s Outstanding Citizen and honors from the Houston Grand Opera, the Abilene Philharmonic, The Grace Museum and the United Way of Abilene.

Dian and her husband, Harlan Stai, reside in Fredericksburg where they enjoy entertaining their four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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Given out during the Annual Meeting each year, the Champion of the Arts Award recognizes a Texas Women for the Arts member who has made significant contributions to the arts statewide, and whose work has embodied the mission and vision of the organization.

The special award was created by Texas Monthly, generous sponsor of the Texas Cultural Trust and Texas Women for the Arts.
The 2017 award was also sponsored by Ron Boyd of Duncan & Boyd Jewelers.

Previous Champions of the Arts include:

Sandra Gilliland
Donna Axum Whitworth
Patsy Donosky
Debbie Montford
Ginger Blanton
and Joci Straus

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Texas Cultural Trust