Dianne Tittle de Laet is an author, harpist, poet, and Executive Director of The Arete Fund. As a writer, her theme is the hero. As a harpist and poet, she recreates the oral tradition of praise song at the harp by giving voice to women with recitation and song from the Greek, Biblical, Norse and Irish oral traditions. As a contemporary praise singer, her subjects are love and war and her original compositions include, whenever possible, surviving musical fragments. Dianne presented an annual
lecture/performance on the Greek oral tradition at Stanford University for close to three decades. In 1989, a memorable performance took place at Stanford Memorial Church. When she stood to take a bow, the Loma Prieta earthquake commenced, and her chair was struck by a piece of falling masonry. A performance highlight was her participation in the International Music Festival in Izmir, Turkey, in 2000, where she performed both in the Great Theatre of Ephesus as a guest artist, and her own story, “Mother Mary’s Secret Chest,” was presented on July 4 at Meryem Ana Evi, The House of Mary, in Ephesus, before an international audience of pilgrims. For this story and her recitation of verse from the poetry of Karol Jozef Wojtyla, she received a personal letter from the Vatican and a blessing from Pope John Paul.
Dianne is a published poet and author. She was a consultant for Scholastic Books on their Greek Myth Project for middle school children and gave programs of Greek myth, Sumerian verse and Irish poetry to elementary school children. She co-founded The Live Poets with poet, Ryland Kelley, and hosted a poetry hour on local TV for twelve years. In 1994, she initiated The Hero Project at the Redwood City Arts Center. In 2004, she participated in the cultural programming that attended the recreation of the Nemean Games in Nemea, Greece. Her presentation called: “Voices: A Praise Song for Peace” involved harp and drum and included ancient and contemporary verse. In 2005, she was invited to present her “Praise Song for Earth” in the ancient theatre of Argos, Greece. Again, in 2008, she performed in the ancient stadium in Nemea, Greece, under the auspices of the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games. In 2012 and 2016, she competed in the Nemean Games and was victorious in her class. (She also competed in five marathons, the Greek Marathon being her first race, and qualified for the USTA National Triathlon Championship - once upon a time).
In 1996, Steerforth Press published a memoir entitled Giants & Heroes: A Daughter’s Memories of Y.A. Tittle. With the proceeds from this nationally acclaimed memoir, she initiated The Arete Fund, an educational non-profit in 1996. The Arete Fund supports education locally and acts globally to encourage greater understanding by means of humanitarian, educational and artistic projects. Arete provides college tuition assistance for deserving high school seniors who exemplify Arete – an ancient Greek word for excellence and virtue – and in turn, seeks to rekindle its ancient meaning for the modern day as a means of fostering mutual respect and good will.
To date, Arete has engaged in humanitarian projects in Darfur, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Bethlehem, Mongolia, Tibet, Guatemala and the Philippines. Educationally, the fund provides ongoing scholarships annually for deserving individuals who aspire to attend college or trade school at Menlo-Atherton High School, in Atherton, California. Arete annually supports 14-20 students who attend La Escuela de los Sordos (The School for the Deaf) in Quetalzenango, Guatemala. Arete also provided scholarships at Hopi High School in Polacca, Arizona, for seven years. In 2016, Arete partnered with World Relief to provide transitional housing for refugees from war torn countries, namely Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Ta Mike’s Friendship House was the work of many hands and generous hearts before it became a home to families fleeing the ravages of war and coming to America for the first time.
As the Executive Director of The Arete Fund, a portion of all proceeds from her creative work benefits the Arete mission. Her performance piece - The Journey of Mothers - recalls “The Trail of Tears” as a metaphor for the journeys to democracy taking place in our own time. Her “Earth Icons” or “poems as earth” – are figures assembled from natural elements that evoke this journey. These figures, used in performance, were also featured as a permanent gallery installation for five years at Gallery 2611 in Redwood City, California, and exhibited at the Gallery Tonatzin in San Juan Bautista, California, Speck Design in Palo Alto, California, and elsewhere.
Dianne and her husband, Steve, have two children and five grandchildren. They currently divide their time between Menlo Park, California, and Greece, where they restored a 100 year-old peasant farmhouse and turned the old threshing floor into a theatre. This traditional stone house, called ElaGaia, is situated on a mountain between Mycenae and Argos, in close proximity to some of Greece’s most notable antiquities that include Nemea, Corinth, Tiryns, Epidauros, and the Argive Heraean. Since 2008, Arete has facilitated cultural exchange at ElaGaia and hosted presentations by local Greek school children and in celebration of the revival of the ancient Nemean Games that are held every four years. Evenings of poetry and music are the usual fare for visiting American students, and numerous performances given before the local community by international artists that include Yuriko Doi of the Theatre of Yugen, the Acoustic Vortex, and, among others, American jazz great, Howard Paul, and his Greek counterpart Christofis Lefteris. Arete was fortunate to host a talented 15-year-old vocalist from the Music School in Prosymni, Greece, to come to the United States in 2013 and attend The Stanford Jazz Workshop. In support of educational projects, support has been given to Women for Afghan Women and The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games.
As of 2020, it has been Dianne de Laet’s priority as the Executive Director to support education locally and to defend our shared humanity in a time of religious strife with humanitarian projects and cultural outreach abroad. To this end, Dianne presents her new performance piece, VOICE: A Call for Greater Religious Tolerance, and The Arete Fund expands its mission with the creation of The Arete Institute for the Arts (AIA) at ElaGaia, and The Queens Megaron. As new board members of the Mycenaean Foundation, Dianne and Steve hope to deepen their commitment to the mission and good work of MF and partner in mutual projects that serve Greek culture and education worldwide. In 2020, MF and AF hosted the first annual Greek-American-Afghani Dialogue with the participation of the Honorable Omar Sultan, then the ambassador to Greece from Afghanistan. In 2022, it is the goal of The Arete Fund, MF, and its partners to emerge from the ravages of a world-wide pandemic with a celebration of democracy.