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Danny Cords

Antioch Spotlight: MEd Alum Danny Cords

Danny Cords is a leader in their community. They are actively involved in the Seattle Front Runners (an LGBTQIA+ running club), spent fifteen years in the Seattle Men’s Chorus, and currently serve as a board member and the Scholarship and Education Program Chair of the Greater Seattle Business Association. And the leadership of this 2015 graduate of the Master of Education program at Antioch’s Seattle campus extends to work, where they have risen to be an Organizational Psychologist. Over the last decade, he has leveraged his education and enthusiasm to impact his world and make positive change. 

This is a triumph in so many ways—not least because they themselves are a survivor of not just anti-gay discrimination but also three years of so-called “conversion therapy.” We chronicled this background and Cords’ experiences at Antioch in our 2017 profile, “An Educator in the Business World.” Now, we wanted to catch up with this notable alum and learn more about what they’re doing today and how their Antioch experience continues to impact their career and wider life. 

Danny Cords jumping with joy.

Would you tell us about the work you’re doing today and what you are excited about?

I am an Organizational Psychologist who specializes in Change Management and resilience. People are amazing, and I love seeing people leverage their unique experiences to find resilience through complex or difficult situations. A big part of this work is consulting with leadership to create an environment where employees feel empowered, safe, and valued enough to become a leader in their work; to share their feedback and perspective fiercely with transparency. I know I have achieved success when a front-line employee influences decisions in the executive office (and is celebrated for doing so).

You attended Antioch’s BA Completion programs and then came back to attend the School of Education. What about Antioch’s mission attracted you to join this community?

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” – Horace Mann. 

I came to Antioch at the advice of several successful Alumnx. I learned from my network that the curriculum would allow me to explore education from multiple lenses. I also found the small classrooms and access to faculty to be very appealing. The most appealing, however, were the values of social justice, inclusion, and equity. Horace Mann’s quote may have been retired with the departure of the former Seattle campus, but its message rings true with me today. Antioch promises an academic experience that will grow with each student yet is accessible to many students. In doing this, the act of education is the practice of freedom, social justice, and activism itself. Embodying these values, Antioch challenges each student while they explore and prepare for their life’s work. Antioch wins victories for humanity in the classroom and prepares students to do the same outside of the classroom.

What skills have you learned at Antioch that help you achieve your goals?

Antioch taught me many lessons about life. I have occupied many classrooms, and the journey to competency can be facilitated in many different ways. Antioch chooses a human-centered approach to learning, one that asks students to listen and HEAR each other, to consider the full environment and context of subjects, and to push yourself a little harder and farther than you think you can. In a world of inequity, imposter syndrome, and oppression, Antioch has taught me to embrace a mindset of growth. My quote sits  on a wall in the Seattle campus and reads, “Living a life I didn’t know existed.” Antioch taught me how to “keep going” even when I thought that the destination I was headed toward wasn’t meant for someone like me.

Danny Cords in black tie formal

What are you passionate about in your work and life?

Philanthropy, scholarship, education, music, theatre, running, camping, hiking, organizational psychology.

What would you say to somebody considering your career path and working in Organizational Psychology and Change Management?

Do it. If you’ve ever challenged the dominant narrative—do it. If you questioned the establishment—do it. If you’ve ever broken apart a social system to evaluate where it breaks—do it. If you care for people over profit and believe that organizations are just a place for people… humans—do it. 

Change Management, in my opinion, is made for those who question, learn, and advocate by raising the voices of those who have not yet been heard.

What would you say to somebody considering attending Antioch?

Antioch is like life, so what better place to prepare for your next chapter in life? Like life, there are politics that you can challenge. Like life, it can be messy. But also, like life, you will encounter great opportunities to grow and connect with an incredible community. You will be challenged, you will learn, and you will uncover many valuable lessons… but unlike life, Antioch provides a safe space to explore, to be curious, to challenge, and to find your voice.

How has getting a Master of Education prepared you to thrive in your career and make a difference in the world?

The School of Education was extremely valuable to my career. My professors provided opportunities to create artifacts in a portfolio that I used to get my first job, before graduation, in my field and at a Fortune 500 company. I also learned through the lens of critical inquiry and social justice. Seeking the “implicit curriculum” allowed me to examine what wasn’t and who aren’t in the room—or in the lesson plan. This is a strong advantage I had over others in my field, especially early in my career.

Jasper Nighthawk ’19 (Antioch Los Angeles, MFA) is the host of the Seed Field Podcast. He serves as Antioch’s University Storyteller, where he co-edits Common Thread and the Antioch Alumni Magazine. He lives in Los Angeles and on the Mendocino Coast with his partner, child, and cat.

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