Content Warning: Sexual harassment
Wellesley College alumna Diana DiZoglio ’10 is running for Massachusetts State Auditor. DiZoglio graduated from Wellesley College as a Davis scholar and majored in Psychology and Spanish. She is currently the State Senator for Massachusetts’ First Essex District, where she was elected in 2019 after six years serving as State Representative in the 14th Essex District.
On Sept. 6, DiZoglio won the Democratic primary for state auditor after beating Chris Dempsey, setting herself up to potentially succeed longtime State Auditor Suzanne Bump. In November, she will face Anthony Amore, the director of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, who ran unopposed for the GOP nomination. Once elected, the state auditor is responsible for conducting audits, investigations, and studies to promote accountability, transparency and performance of the State government.
In her Social Justice and Equity Audit Plan, DiZoglio highlighted her dedication to improving transparency in state-funded contracts allotted to minority businesses and also on Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).
“For the State of Massachusetts, for as progressive and forward-thinking as residents of Massachusetts are,… [for] our state contracting and procurements, only 0.0005% of state contracts had gone out to [Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses in 2022]. ”
According to GBH News, of the $4.8 billion spent on contracts in 2020, only $23 million went to Black or Hispanic–owned businesses. DiZoglio vows to ensure equitable and accountable spending by examining Massachusetts state contacts and procurement processes in which women-, veteran-, LGBTQ+- and minority-owned businesses can be fairly treated.
In her audit plan, DiZoglio revealed the personal story behind her persistence to audit taxpayer-funded Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) across state agencies.
“I was a younger woman in my 20s; I had just finished my classes at Wellesley, got into the workforce and unfortunately learned about the flipped side of state government. During my very short time working as the legislative aide, I was sexually harassed in our own House of Representatives.”
DiZoglio was fired and silenced by a non-disclosure agreement paid for by Massachusetts taxpayers. Her experience with overpowered workplace abuse pushed her to instill bureaucratic accountability in NDAs in the face of victims censored for workplace harassment or other violence.
This settlement between her and the state government also helped her realize the systematic vulnerability in disadvantaged communities and thus fueled her political career.
“I didn’t let them get rid of me or keep me quiet and didn’t leave state government as they told me to do. Instead, I decided to run for state representative myself and, a little over a year later, became the youngest woman serving in the House at that time.”
She recalled how her Wellesley experience shaped her political career.
“Wellesley taught me how to think critically about issues, to make important decisions. I have the most independent voting record in the State Senate,” she said. “I am a Democrat, but I have challenged my Democratic leadership team on issues regarding transparency and equity on numerous occasions. My Wellesley education really helped to provide [me] with those critical thinking skills that you need to be an effective official.”
Professor Nancy Hall in the Spanish Department had DiZoglio in her advanced Spanish class,Latin American Short Story. Since DiZoglio had worked as a counselor to young women in crisis in Massachusetts, they came up with a paper idea for a comparative study of Latin American short stories that prominently featured girls at risk as characters or narrators.
“Diana immediately understood that by building on her real-life experience, the topic offered a path to personally meaningful, cross-cultural learning, as well as a way to enhance her already considerable skills in reading and writing in a second language,” she said. “I recall that Diana carried out the assignment with enthusiasm, commitment, determination and clarity, qualities that have continued to shape her work in state politics.”
Looking back on her 10 year tenure in Beacon Hill and her upcoming race, DiZoglio stressed how she has been driven to fight for and safeguard women’s rights.
“I stand for women and for women’s rights, fight for policies that support and uplift women to leadership, and have been a loud advocate for women in the State House,” she said. “I have done that for the last 10 years, especially on sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and domestic violence, and will continue to do so.”