Danielle Mindess

MPA Student

2005 Alumni

Biography

Theater Studies, 2005
Brooklyn, NY
M.P.A., New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service

Since Emory

After graduating Emory, I stayed in Atlanta and worked at a hair salon (terrible!) and in a restaurant (great!) while working on a variety of theater projects. I had the opportunity to perform and direct with Synchronicity Performance Group, assistant direct plays for Actor’s Express and Theater Emory, intern at the Alliance Theatre, and direct at the Aurora Theatre. For fifteen months I served as the Atlanta Project Coordinator for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays, which was a dynamite experience!

I had always promised myself that I would try living abroad, so after my year with 365 I took off for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Never one for a plan, I showed up there, told people I was an English teacher, and eventually amassed a group of tutees. I stayed for almost a year, learning Spanish, teaching English, playing soccer and making international friends.

During that year in Buenos Aires, I discovered that I enjoyed teaching adults. Since I had poured myself into the theater world since I was a small child, I decided that this was my time to try something new. I had always felt a pull towards the world of social services, and so I left Buenos Aires and took a job in New York City as a computer instructor for The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program which serves homeless and formerly incarcerated men. This allowed me to continue teaching adults and try out the (non-theater) nonprofit world. I believe this makes me the only person to relocate to New York City to quit acting.

Current activities

My job at TDF quickly morphed from “Computer Instructor” to “Adult Education Coordinator.” I had the tremendous opportunity to help create a whole new adult education program for the organization. In 2011 I decided to return to school and pursue a Master in Public Administration so that I might continue on this trajectory of developing public service programs. I am currently a full-time student New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and planning to graduate in May of 2013. I chose the MPA track partially because it opens up a wide umbrella of career possibilities, including arts management.

Highlights at Emory

I am supposed to be writing a major final paper right now but I am writing this instead, which goes to show how much love and appreciation I hold for Theater @ Emory! Although it may seem that my life took an unrelated path, I can track everything back to the invaluable experiences I gained there. Through the academic program I learned analysis from Vinnie Murphy, Alice Benston taught me to write, Pat Miller imparted business skills, Tim McDonough drilled attention to detail and preparedness, John Ammerman instilled the powering of listening, and Lisa Paulsen taught me to “pull on my big girl boots” and step up to challenges with confidence.

Two people on stage

In retrospect

Through my hands-on theater experiences, I had the opportunity to take risks and received incredible support for my craziest ideas (where else can you duct tape your friends to a wall?). I formed close, enduring relationships with my peers, professors and professionals in the Atlanta arts world. Professors showed up for everything we tried – even a crazy performance art bonanza in the law school courtroom featuring synchronized dancing to Prince songs (admittedly not my best work). The theater program at Emory offers rigorous training but also encourages experimentation and bravery. All of this allowed me to feel confident taking the risks I’ve taken. I landed my job at The Doe Fund because I could frame my theater background as relevant, professional experience, and made the case that I learned skills in the performing arts that could translate to almost anything. 

And…

Please feel free to contact me at dmindess@gmail.com if you have any questions about Theater @ Emory, or anything else.