Dan is a first year MBA candidate at Harvard Business School. A United States Army veteran, Dan served eight years on active duty as an attack helicopter pilot and aviation officer, culminating with 22 months as a Troop Commander. He has served in South Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, and various locations throughout the United States. Dan has extensive experience in leadership and general management, talent development and mentorship, and aviation operations, maintenance, and logistics. Dan graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2010 and commissioned during the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era. When the policy was repealed, he became the first openly gay Apache pilot in the U.S. Army. In 2018, he and his husband, Vincent, also an Army pilot, were the first Active Duty same sex couple to marry at their Alma Mater of West Point, where they met as cadets. A self-professed political junkie and idealist, Dan enjoys watching C-SPAN floor debates, reading Supreme Court decisions, and debating policy with anyone who will listen. He is a passionate advocate for social impact, specifically civil rights, voting rights, and veterans issues.
What made you consider business school?
I'm not sure I chose business school as much as business school chose me. My primary and long time goal was to attend law school and I didn't think business school was in my wheelhouse as an undergraduate language major. I knew I wanted to return to school following my Army service before starting my next career but wasn't entirely certain which route to take or where to apply. It wasn't until several close friends encouraged me to apply to Harvard Business School that I realized I could continue learning and practicing the art of leadership more effectively at a program designed around general management.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
During my years of military service, my eyes were opened to cultures and societies with devastating poverty and continued repression of human rights. At the same time, I was also exposed to a deep hope from many of those same communities that together we can create a more promising future. I'm going to business school because I've realized that the study of business and leadership is the study of the art of the possible. Much like the Army, b-school pulls together people from all sorts of demographics, experiences, and world views. When you have witnessed such hardships and then consider the brilliant personalities, ideas, and cultures that institutions like HBS pull together, you begin to realize how you can learn from all of that to make your little corner of the world a better place. In short, what isn't there to be excited about?
Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
It took me a long time to personally acknowledge and accept my orientation, but when I did, I came roaring out of the closet. There is one leader I have to thank for providing me the courage and reasoning for that decision, former San Francisco City Supervisor and LGBT martyr, Harvey Milk. In a message recorded in 1977, he said, "I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out. Stand up and let the world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anyone would imagine." So I stood up and let the world know that there was a gay Army attack pilot, and haven't looked back since!
What's one thing everyone should know about you?
If you pester me enough, I *will* take the mic at a karaoke bar. No promises on the quality though... you've been warned.