In addition to her high-level legal responsibilities at Accenture in Chicago, Dana Michelle Davenport, ’07, has three other big jobs—or four, or five, depending on how you count.
At Accenture, she’s the colead of the firm’s global sourcing team, handling procurement matters with a staff of about 20 lawyers around the world. Late-night and early-morning calls and other interactions with far-flung staff are an integral part of her responsibilities. Along with that demanding regimen, she’s a single parent to her special-needs son Trey, who is 11 years old, and her daughter Lena, who is 9. They live about 25 miles outside of Chicago, which can make for long commutes on the days she’s required to be in the office, but those days are rare. “Accenture is a great place to work in many ways,” she said, “including its early adoption, even before the pandemic, of policies and systems that support working from home.”
In addition to her work and family responsibilities, there’s her television and radio presence, which includes hosting two regular shows, Dana Being Dana—of which there have been more than 125 hour-long episodes—and Finding Common Ground, which began during the tumult that followed the killing of George Floyd and addresses the impacts of current events on diverse populations, seeking collaborative solutions through frank interactions among Davenport’s guests. Both of her television shows are broadcast by Naperville Community Television, and they reach substantial additional audiences through podcasts and social media outlets. (You can watch or listen to her shows at www.nctv17.com.)
She’s also the cofounder and director of the Homecoming Challenge, an alumni giving initiative that has reached more than 40 college campuses to bring graduates into informal mentoring relationships with current students. Having acquired a national corporate sponsor this year, the Challenge is poised to continue expanding.
“I know I’m a high-energy person,” Davenport said, “and I know I’m a high-commitment person. I stay as open as I can to ways that I can encourage, connect, and inspire others to live their very best lives.” She’s had a passion to help others since she was very young, standing up to injustice on her grade-school playground. “I was good with words and I cared about justice,” she recalled. “People often told me I should be a lawyer.” At the Law School, her determination to help others led to her receiving the Edwin F. Mandel Award for the quality and extent of her contributions at the Juvenile Justice Clinic.
She said that the Law School has benefitted her in many ways. In addition to the capabilities that enable her to succeed at her Accenture position and the inspiration she derives from seeing so many classmates thriving in traditional and nontraditional careers, she said: “I’m using so many skills that were developed and sharpened at the Law School in my journalistic work, particularly on Finding Common Ground, where the issues are deep and feelings are strong. Understanding the core of an issue, asking the right questions, communicating clearly, honoring other viewpoints—I got deep training in all that from UChicago.”
“What they say is true,” she added. “A UChicago Law School education is great preparation for whatever a person might want to do.”
As satisfied as she is with the commitments she is currently undertaking, Davenport is potentially facing some choices about her future. The rare combination of gravity, empathy, and levity that she brings to her broadcasts has led many people—fans and media professionals alike—to encourage her to pursue more far-reaching outlets for her talents. And the Homecoming Challenge is a compelling program that has national potential and is very attractive to potential sponsors.
“My family and my job will always come first,” she says, “but there’s a big world out there, and I’m not one to shy away from a chance to step out into it and take on new challenges. If there are people I can help, connections I can create, and divides I can help to bridge, I’m going to be there as much as I can. I think that’s in my DNA—it’s just Dana being Dana.”