Diane Ragsdale spent six years as a program officer in performing arts for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2004–10), where she had primary responsibility for theater, dance, and technology-related strategies and grants. Before joining the foundation, Ragsdale served as managing director of the contemporary performing arts center On the Boards (Seattle) and executive director of a destination music festival in the resort town of Sandpoint, Idaho. Prior work includes stints at the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle Film Festival, Peter Gabriel's WOMAD USA, and Bumbershoot, the arts festival in Seattle. Ragsdale is a frequent panelist, "provocateur," and keynote speaker at arts conferences (notable addresses include "Surviving the Culture Change" and "The Excellence Barrier") and she has contributed articles to several publications, including "Recreating Fine Arts Institutions" in the fall 2009 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She is currently pursuing a PhD in cultural economics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and researching the impact of economic forces on nonprofit regional theaters in the United States since the 1980s.
In February 2009, Ragsdale participated in "Creating New Work for Theater," a panel discussion on the national system of new play development, held at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Other participants included Todd London of New Dramatists, Victoria Bailey of Theatre Development Fund, David Dower of Arena Stage, and moderator Ben Pesner.