“I believe that I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams”— Danielle Christina Mullings, IDEA’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The celebration of Black History Month —although recognized nationwide—is honored by individuals in a multitude of ways. One size doesn’t fit all. Take IDEA’s inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Danielle Christina Mullings, for example. Learn about her role, her personal connection with Black History Month, and who inspires her to create a legacy of her own.
Why did you choose the career path of working in education?
I came to the education field because my family taught me that education is the great equalizer and, regardless of where you come from, you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. As I realized that not all students were receiving a quality education simply because of where they lived my heart pushed me into action. I found deep gratification in making sure that voices who don’t usually get heard, do. I want to make sure that students who look like me get access to incredible teachers and give them a genuine love for learning and have curiosities about the way the world works.
Why did you apply to IDEA Public Schools?
I supported diversity, equity and inclusion and leadership development work for years in another organization and was able to experience the powerful impact of those bodies of work. I wanted to be able to take that experience to an organization like IDEA where there was an opportunity to have an impact on 100,000 students in the next few years. I wanted to be a part of giving more students access to college like I was fortunate enough to have. As we think about our society, I know that our students are the next generation of leaders. I wanted in some way to have an impact on creating leaders who believe in treating all people with dignity and respect as I had learned.
What is the significance of Black History Month to you?
I believe that I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. I believe that in order to appreciate who I am, I must honor the people who have come before me; those who fought for things that I now take for granted. Black History Month celebrates brilliance, beauty and love for my people and the fight of freedom that continues. Black History Month helps me remember all that we have accomplished despite our history of bondage. It allows me to be grateful for those who came before me and pushes me to think about how we continue to work in partnership with others to create a more equitable society.
What historic African American leader has influenced you most and why?
I would say Bell Hooks, who was an author, professor, feminist and social activist. She wrote a book called Teaching to Transgress and through it, taught me the possibilities of what a classroom can be. Here is one of my favorite quotes from her:
“To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls for our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.”
Danielle joined the IDEA team in fall 2018 and hit the ground running. One of her priorities this year is to complete a listening tour, which allows her to travel and talk to staff about IDEA to help her think through ways to evolve the organizational culture over the next few years.