As EdAllies’ founding executive director, Daniel sets the direction for the organization’s work to ensure that every young Minnesotan has access to an excellent education. Daniel’s time as a sixth-grade math teacher in rural North Carolina—during which he was recognized as a finalist for Teach For America’s National Excellence in Teaching Award—engrained in him a deep belief in the potential of all students. After teaching, he returned home to Minneapolis to found TFA–Twin Cities, where he led a bipartisan community coalition to push for the state’s alternative teacher certification. Convinced of the power of advocacy, he then helped advance key education policy reforms as the executive director of MinnCAN before launching EdAllies in 2016. He has also served on many charter school and organizational boards, and currently chairs MN Comeback’s Policy Implementation Team. Daniel holds a bachelor’s in Sociology and Anthropology from Gustavus Adolphus College.
Who inspires you to work in education advocacy?
As a former teacher to hundreds of children, and now a parent to two of my own, students are of course the main motivation behind what I do. But I also get inspiration from the parents, teachers, school leaders, policymakers, and other leaders who are passionate about finding constructive and inventive solutions to expand opportunities for students across the state. I believe productive collaboration is the key to a more equitable future for students, and am honored to work alongside so many local leaders who share our vision for—and belief in—every single child. Because I thrive off of others’ energy and passion, I actively seek out those who will challenge and sharpen my thinking, and ultimately make me a better, more effective advocate and leader.
What part of your job gets you out of bed in the morning?
I believe that teachers, the people we entrust to educate the youngest members of our society, hold remarkable power to undo education inequity. That’s why I’m a fervent believer in finding ways to increase the diversity and quality of leaders at every level of our education system—including classrooms, schools, and districts—and why I’m most motivated by EdAllies’ policy efforts to attract, retain, and recognize talented, caring leaders who are committed to helping all students succeed.