Thinking About Philanthropy…and a Colleague

July 1, 2009

David Grant, President and CEO

Today, July 1st, is the first day in a decade that Ross Danis has not worked for the Dodge Foundation.  Today he officially begins his duties as Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Drew University.

Ross Danis for DG's PostRoss was the first Program Director I hired at Dodge.  We had conducted a long and orderly search for someone to lead our grantmaking and initiatives in Education.  We had done everything by the book and had gone from hundreds of applicants down to two excellent finalists.  But something was missing. I suspended the search and simply called Ross Danis, whom I had met once for about two minutes.

It doesn’t take two whole minutes to appreciate what Ross brings to the worlds of educations and philanthropy.  He has a scholar’s interest in learning, in organizations and in leadership; he has a feel for the classroom that the most gifted teachers have; and he has a passion for improving the lives of young people, particularly the ones who need him most.

Ross has a personal mission to empower others, and it has been a perfect match with Dodge’s mission.  In the past ten years, Ross has served hundreds of Dodge grantees as well as it can be done, and through his creativity, counseling, cajoling, mentorship and leadership, he has improved the lives of thousands of students, teachers and school leaders in New Jersey.

Now he takes that personal mission to Drew, and it very easy for me to imagine that five years from now, principals across the region will be fighting to hire teachers trained at Drew, and ten years from now the essential conversation in New Jersey and beyond about how teachers are trained will be different because of Ross.

Meanwhile, today, all of us at Dodge pause and acknowledge our sense of loss —  and our gratitude for the privilege and the pleasure of having been his day-to-day colleagues for the past ten years.