Dianne Madoni, 54, state official with agency for children, families

April 01, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Dianne L. Madoni, an official with the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families for more than two decades, died Monday of complications from diabetes at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 54.

Ms. Madoni entered state government in 1979 as a legislative liaison for the agency. She wrote the text of bills that became state law and often met with elected officials to get those laws passed.

Colleagues said that in 1987, she played a role in creating the Maryland Children's Trust Fund, which assists in the prevention of child abuse.

"Dianne was committed to the advancement of children's issues and gave her life to that issue," said former state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, now a lobbyist in Washington and Annapolis. "She was a beautiful person on the outside and on the inside. She focused on making the world a better place for kids."

"I learned a lot from Dianne. She really understood how government worked and how you could craft policy that would benefit children," said state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

"She was absolutely tireless in her advocacy. She really understood what would be required to initiate opportunities for a child and how you would have to pull the state's resources together. She was strong in her knowledge of legislative process."

Born Dianne Wofford in Washington, D.C., she earned a communications degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Ms. Madoni was named chief officer for budget, fiscal matters and government relations in her agency in 1995 and its chief administrative officer in 1998.

Ms. Madoni became the office's director of research, evaluation and monitoring in 2001. She stepped down from that post last year. Most recently, she was a special assistant for policy issues in the state's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' Division of Parole and Probation.

"As an administrative person, she needed to deliver and keep things running by the rules. She would not let you skip around," said Patti Flowers Coulson, a friend and co-worker who lives in Riderwood.

"Dianne was the kind of person you could have a shouting match with one afternoon, then turn around and call at 3 in the morning if you needed her. She was there for everyone. She spent a lot of time at work, but her own children always came first."

Former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said, "She was extraordinarily dedicated to children and families and to making their lives better. ... She leaves a great legacy."

Ms. Madoni had long been active in state Democratic Party circles, and was a member of the National Organization for Women for more than 30 years.

She enjoyed campaigning for the Maryland Democratic Party. She served on the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee for more than a decade and was a delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. She was a Maryland elector to the 1996 Electoral College.

"She was a strong and independent kind of person who accepted your right to make your own decision. She continually looked for ways she could expand her knowledge and learning," said the Rev. Fred Weimert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, 120 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Towson, where Ms. Madoni was an active member. Services will be held there at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Survivors include her two daughters, Cara T. Madoni and Julie Anne Madoni, both of Lutherville; her mother, Betty W. Herron of Towson; her father, C. Arnold Wofford of Tyler, Texas; two brothers, Eugene Herron of Baltimore and John Herron of Belcamp; and a sister, Helen P. Rowe of Westminster. Her marriage to Dennis Madoni ended in divorce.

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