Success Built on Respect

Diana Rupert Livingston, who managed a 1,200-employee QVC call center, has been so dedicated to serving others that President George W. Bush gave her the 2008 Volunteer Service Award. Photo by Tom Yurkovich.

Diana Rupert Livingston ’71 set forth a vision as general manager of a QVC call center that opened in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in 1999. Co-worker Tom Yurkovich still has those words hanging on his office bulletin board: “Create an environment where people feel valued, want to come to work, and feel time here is well spent.”

“It’s how we treat one another,” said Yurkovich, who credits Livingston with fostering an atmosphere of respect and truly caring about the people around her. “She has a sincere interest in understanding people. If you’re going to sit down and have a conversation with Diana, she is going to be interested in what you’re saying.”

Livingston worked in two of the three domestic customer contact centers of the multinational home shopping network QVC before opening her own 1,200-employee QVC call center as general manager.

A teacher of emotional intelligence and a consummate volunteer recognized with the 2008 Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush, Livingston plans to retire this spring and move to Richmond, in part to be near her Mary Washington roots. She said her education in psychology and sociology at the school has shaped her personal and professional relationships.

“I’ve always been intrigued with the human personality,” she said. “It’s part of an intellectual curiosity that I have.”

Her mother, Martha Sadler Rupert, fostered that curiosity.

“Early on, Mother could see what an education meant and was determined to complete high school and four years at Salem College even though she had a baby at age 18,” Livingston said. Her mother earned a doctorate in history later in life and taught economics, sociology, world cultures, and history in the public schools until 1991.

“When she died in 2000 from Alzheimer’s disease, it seemed most fitting to use funds from her life insurance to establish a scholarship so that a deserving student could benefit,” Livingston said. She endowed that Mary Washington scholarship in 2002.

Livingston was just 17 when she left her small Maryland hometown for college in the late 1960s. Her quiet world soon turned to turmoil and change. The courage of her Mary Washington sisters who marched to Washington, D.C., inspired her throughout her life and shaped her desire to be “a good person who helps others.”

Another model was the late psychology professor Alice Rabson. “She demonstrated genuine caring and concern for me,” said Livingston, noting that such concern led her to the realization that recognizing emotions in others enables a person to reach out and help.

Livingston was selected to serve as a director on the University of Mary Washington Foundation Board in April 2009 and said she looks forward to continued relationships with like-minded alumni.

Through Mary Washington, she said, “I’ve met people who are 20 years older than I am and 40 years younger. And we all consider ourselves citizens of the world, and we want to make the world a better place.”