A Brief Biography
During the past fifty years, Dana has been connected with high school. Though he graduated from John Marshall High in Los Angeles in 1970, his lifelong love of learning and interest in sharing what he knows has kept him connected with students. While at Yale in 1970 to 1974, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in math, he was a teacher, and later the executive director, of the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a math and English tutoring program for local high school students in New Haven, Connecticut. He served as a volunteer during the school year and was paid for his service as summer employment. As a U.S. Grant tutor, he taught mini-classes of five students in subjects such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and public speaking.
While a student at USC law school and in the early years of his employment history, Dana tutored math as a volunteer for family members and children of friends. He also gave presentations on his work as an attorney and as a judge at career-day events at schools in Compton, where he grew up.
Not long after moving to Lancaster in 1987, Dana joined Toastmasters International where he has honed his public speaking skills. He is Toastmasters’ 1992 World Champion of Public Speaking. Dana’s public speaking successes prompted him to start a professional speaking business. This has afforded him the opportunity to give motivational speeches in 36 states of the United States and in 8 other countries. He has had the opportunity to motivate and inspire middle and high school students in South Africa, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Dana has been the guest speaker at graduation ceremonies at Quartz Hill and SOAR High Schools. He has given motivational and inspirational talks, conducted workshops for students, and participated in career-day events at 9 of the Antelope Valley Union High School District campuses.
In the early '90s Dana started judging high school oratorical contests. Then a teacher at Highland High invited him to coach one of her students. That is how Dana’s current volunteer work with AVUHSD students began. For more than two decades he responded to individual requests to coach a student or group of students. In 2011 a SOAR High student officially established Speech Club on the campus, and Dana has been the mentor and coach at the weekly club meetings since its inception. The students with whom he has worked have earned a combined $100,000 in cash and scholarships through oratorical contests.
Dana retired as an administrative law judge in 2010, but his retirement has not given him more time to go fishing. Today, he is the advisor of three clubs at SOAR High School. In addition to Speech Club, he volunteers twice a week as attorney coach for the SOAR Mock Trial team. This is his third year of coaching the team. It is the second year of his being advisor for Girls SOAR High, a Girls Build team organized under the auspices of the LA Promise Fund. Last year’s project for Girls SOAR High was on climate change; this year’s project is a Virtual Voter Mobilization & Civic Engagement Challenge.
When he was the Student Body Vice President at Washington Irving Junior High, Dana developed an affinity for parliamentary procedures and Robert’s Rules of Order. All of the school leaders had to take a one-semester class in which Robert’s Rules were used in the conduct of every classroom session. Today, Dana gives workshops in the valley to various groups on the basics of conducting meetings and handling motions using Robert’s Rules of Order. Over the years, he has been responsible for revising bylaws for nonprofit groups and for establishing bylaws for groups in formation. He helped establish the initial bylaws for the Antelope Valley College Foundation.
Being the seventh of twelve children, Dana attended public schools as did his brothers and sisters. He had to use Braille books and type his assignments and tests for his teachers because he became blind when he was four years old. He was the first in his family to go to college and the first blind student to graduate from Yale and from USC law school. Having experienced the value of his public education, he sent his four children to public schools in the Antelope Valley. They attended Lincoln, New Vista, and Antelope Valley High.
The light that has guided Dana throughout his life and his interactions with others, including his work with high school students, comes from an admonition from his mom before he left for college: “If, when you come back from Yale, you are unable to communicate with your brothers and sisters and the kids in the neighborhood who didn’t have the same opportunity, your education will be worthless.” Dana believes that the way to magnify the value of his education is to share it freely.