In Memoriam: Diana Morelli-Klima

In Memoriam: Diana Morelli-Klima Main Photo

17 Dec 2023

Diana Morelli-Klima, EDASC’s Director of the Latino Business Retention & Expansion Program from 2004-2020, passed away in September 2023 at the age of 81.

Morelli-Klima received her Doctor of Philosophy in romance languages, literature and linguistics from the University of Washington, and taught Spanish, English and linguistics at the college level. In 1984 she founded her own business consulting firm, Productive Management Systems.

At EDASC, Morelli-Klima developed the award-winning Latino Business Retention and Expansion Program (LBRE) program to provide customized bilingual business counseling to Latino businesses. Under her leadership, this program assisted entrepreneurs in securing almost $3 million in loans. 

Morelli-Klima also co-founded the Latino Leadership Initiative, which seeks to empower young Latinos to put them on a path to become strong community participants. She also fostered the partnership with the Northwest Agriculture Business Center to offer a Spanish-language computer skills course. Both programs continue today.

“Diana was an amazing force for good not only at EDASC and in Skagit County, but throughout the entire region,” noted John Sternlicht, CEO of EDASC, who brought Morelli-Klima back to the organization after a stint at North Coast Credit Union. “She did so much for us as an organization with her wit and wisdom about group dynamics and interpersonal connection, and she educated us all about the differing needs and approaches of the Latino community. Diana did so much to change things for the better everywhere she went. With every year that passed, we all were more and more in awe of her wisdom and indomitable spirit. 

“She carried that through to the end. And she never missed an opportunity to praise or shower affection on her friends and colleagues. She did that in the last conversation we had, after her diagnosis. To say we will miss Diana is a vast understatement – but we will carry her teachings with us, and thinking of her will always make us smile.”

Alex Perez, project manager at the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, served as an intern for the LBRE program in 2010, and regarded Morelli-Klima as a mentor and friend. He shares this remembrance of her:

“The understanding and cultural awareness approach of Diana’s work was remarkable. She taught me to meet clients where they are at, and to not just request that they do what is considered the norm. This meant becoming a patient advocate, coach, and motivator to help clients in on their challenging journey to entrepreneurship.

“Her mentorship has not only helped me professionally but has made me become a better version of myself. I have learned some valuable life lessons, which I will continue to carry throughout my career. Diana's presence was truly a blessing to all of us whose lives she touched. She was a remarkable, strong, wise and loving woman, whose energy and warrior spirit will remain unmatched. Gratitude will forever reside in our hearts for the time shared, the lessons, the teachings, and the unique contagious laughter.”

Diana Morelli-Klima is survived by a son, a daughter, and a granddaughter named after her.