• "Margaret, Diane was a remarkable person, a brave and smart..."
    - Peter Cowhey
  • "Our family would like to add our sincere condolences to the..."
    - Monica Bisgaard
  • "My deepest sympathy to the family of Diane Cornell. May you..."
    - N. S.
  • "Margaret, we are so very sorry for your loss. I always..."
    - Laurie Shedler
  • "Remembering many remarkable experiences with Diane from our..."

CORNELL Diane J. Cornell (Age 66) Of Washington, DC and Cape May Point, NJ died peacefully at home on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. A prominent communications lawyer and regulatory policy maker, Diane was both a tireless private sector advocate and a passionate public servant. She began her career in Washington in 1981 at the law firm Squire, Sanders and Dempsey (now Squire Patton Boggs), and in 1987 began the first of two tours at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At the FCC, Diane joined the Common Carrier Bureau's Division of Policy and Program Planning. She rapidly rose through the FCC ranks, assuming roles of greater profile and responsibility, including Chief of the International Policy Division of the Common Carrier Bureau, Chief of the Telecommunications Division of the International Bureau, and the Chief of Staff/Associate Chief of the Wireless Communications Bureau. She also served as legal advisor to FCC Commissioners Patricia Diaz Dennis and Sherrie Marshall, and as Acting Senior Legal Advisor to FCC Chairman Reed H. Hundt. Between the stints at the FCC she served as vice president at both CTIA (The Wireless Association), and Inmarsat where she spearheaded regulatory and government relations issues. Government service was always in Diane's blood, and the FCC came calling again. In 2013, she rejoined the agency as Special Counsel to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. She retired from the FCC in 2016, having received the Agency's Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, the Special Achievement Award, and the Chairman's Outstanding Service Award. In 2017, after her retirement, she was recognized for the sweeping reach of her contributions to the public interest, her mentorship to hundreds of members of the Bar, and significant policy accomplishments with the Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA's) Excellence in Government Service Award. Diane's professional contributions extended far beyond her "day job." She was a tireless volunteer to countless philanthropic organizations - serving in a variety of leadership roles at the FCBA - including as its President in 2007-2008. Diane had a passion for progressive issues and politics which she expressed with her support of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute, and Voices for Progress, as well as the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In 2009, Diane was a key member of the Obama-Biden transition team. Diane had a long association with USA Badminton, both as a player and an officer. She was serving as its president during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games at which time she escorted President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn and other dignitaries around the badminton venue. She also worked to support the US Bid for Olympics 2012 to be hosted in DC and just last year as chair of the USAB Ethics Committee. Diane's contributions to badminton have been felt throughout our region; her specific legacy includes the Mid Atlantic Classic and DC Open. She recently served several terms as President of Northeast Badminton Association. As a player, she held a senior national title and several regional titles. Diane's civil union and marriage to the love of her life, Margaret Flinner, were the firsts of their type in the Borough of Cape May Point, NJ. Diane had a lifelong love of Cape May Point, pursuing her love of the beach, biking, and birding with friends. She and Margaret also enjoyed travelling extensively in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Diane was born in Bryn Mawr, PA and grew up in Philadelphia and attended Springside High School. She received a BA degree from Wesleyan University, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In addition to Margaret, Diane is survived by her brother-in-law, Charles "Ricky" Flinner of Silver Spring, MD, her sister-in-law, Linda Collier (Michael) of Encinitas, CA, her niece, Lisa Hourin (Scott) of Fredericksburg, VA, and their daughters, Bay and Lilly, her stepmother, Suzanne Cornell of Kennett Square, PA, and her two step-brothers, Matt Varhola of Pigeon Forge, TN, and Greg Varhola of Boulder, CO. She is also survived by her brother, Peter Cornell (Jo) of Los Angeles, CA. A Celebration of Diane's Life will be held in the near future. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) or Dr. Issacs Breast Cancer Research Lombardi Cancer Center/IMO Diane Cornell. A Celebration of Diane's Life will be held in the near future. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) or Dr. Issacs Breast Cancer Research Lombardi Cancer Center/IMO Diane Cornell.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 12, 2020
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