Diane Francis was born in Chicago, USA and attended school in Skokie, Illinois. She married one year after finishing high school then, at age 19, immigrated with her husband to Toronto Canada. She is a dual citizen and lives/works in both countries.
They launched a commercial art studio, invested in other businesses and real estate then had two children. Diane stayed at home for six years and became a political activist in her community of Mississauga Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. She decided, after helping two friends’ win local elections, that the most effective means of bringing about needed change in society belonged to the media, not to the political office holders. So she took a part-time course at a community college on feature writing. Weeks later, her professor obtained an internship for her at a small daily newspaper, the Brampton Daily Times, and she was immediately offered a full-time job.
From there, she became a freelance newspaper and magazine writer for many publications. She became Contributing Editor of Canadian Business Magazine and a columnist with Quest Magazine. In 1981, she joined The Toronto Star as a business writer, became a white collar crime specialist then columnist. This led to regular commentaries on CBC and CFRB. In 1987, she joined Maclean’s, the Toronto Sun chain and the Financial Post as a columnist and in 1988 she became a Director of the Financial Post then in 1991 its Editor until it was sold in 1998 (and became the National Post).
Diane’s first book was published in 1986 and she has written nine more. But has been a regular radio and television commentator for years on CBC, CTV, local radio stations and various U.S. broadcast outlets. She has appeared in several documentaries, mostly about white collar crime, for ABC’s 20-20, CBC, Global TV and various independent producers, most recently the Halcyon documentary about Bernie Madoff. She has also, for many years, been one of Canada’s busiest and most highly paid speakers, addressing hundreds of groups and individuals about trends, business, geopolitics, politics, trade, immigration and markets.
Diane was the first female to become editor of a national daily newspaper in Canada, founded the Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and in 2007 became the first working journalist to sit on a public company board of directors.
She has also become involved on various charitable, educational, scientific, healthcare and corporate boards. She was the Executive in Residence at Queen’s University School of Business in 2002 and has been Visiting Professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management since 2008. Her other directorships include the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce since 1989, Aurizon Mines Ltd. since 2007 (taken over in 2013), Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2008, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences from 2010 to 2013, Ryerson University Cabinet since 2011, George Brown College Foundation, from 1997 to 2004, Care Canada from 1997 to 2006, York University East-West Exchange from 1992 to 2004 and the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry from 1987 to 1994.
She has received many writing awards: the Western Ontario Newspaper Award for environmental writing in 1976, and the National Journalism Award for energy writing in 1984, 1985 and 1987. She received the National Newspaper Award for business writing in 1982. She won the Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence in 1990 and was awarded the Journalist of the Year by the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in 1994. She was also named Chatelaine Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1992; won the National Citizens Coalition Freedom Award in 1995 and Woman of Achievement, Canadian Hadassah-Wizo in 1996. She has received honorary doctorates from St. Mary’s University, Niagara University, Sheridan College, and in 2013, Ryerson University.
She now divides her time between Toronto and Manhattan.