Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Dan Apfel
Name: Dan Apfel
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in History, University of Rochester, 2005
Current city/state of residence: Brooklyn, NY
Job Title: Executive Director
Employer: Responsible Endowments Coalition
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was a part of many different student groups. I participated in Grassroots and Students for Social Justice, where I learned about consensus decision making and organizing and really developed the political perspective that I have now. I also participated in Outside Speaker Committee—now a part of Campus Activities Board, where I met many famous and interesting people from Desmond Tutu to Michael Moore.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I stayed in Rochester. I wanted to get more involved in the community of the Southwest Area of the City. I decided to continue living in the EcoHouse and worked for Sector 4 Community Development Corporation. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the area, support community organizations, and really participate in Rochester.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I run an organization called the Responsible Endowments Coalition. We work with students and administrators on college campuses who want their colleges to invest their money more responsibly with a focus on society and the environment. When I realized that UR had $1.7 billion and that colleges in total have $400 billion, I also realized they could do much better things with their money then just simply invest without thinking about its effects. I want to have a positive impact on the world and think that we can leverage the money of colleges to do that in a dramatic way.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
As an Executive Director of a non-profit this is a great challenge. I work a lot of hours and am very dedicated to my job- I love it, but it is important to have a life outside of work. I make sure that I see my friends, many of who are other UR alumni, and also make sure to schedule activities. I sail regularly, and make sure that I commit to sailing at least once a week over the summer. At the end of the day, I think it is important to build a wide variety of activities into your life.
What advice do you have for current students?
The best advice I can give to a current student is that you will be a lot happier if you spend some time thinking about what you value in life before you take a first step into your career. Think about whether you will be happy working at a bank or a big company or whether you would rather work for social change or to protect the environment. Also keep your values in mind not just when picking a career but also throughout your work and your life. You will sleep better at night knowing that no matter what you are doing you are helping people and creating a better world.