I am Danielle Nicole Perry, a proud scholar-leader who believes in getting proximate to the communities I serve. As Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Equal Justice Institute observes in his memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, proximity sheds light to some “basic and humbling truths.” I have learned a few truths of my own working closely with two Baltimore City nonprofit organizations, Summer Reads and the Greenmount West Community Center. The first truth I have observed is that youth, experiencing poverty, trauma, and violence, directly benefit from programs and services that the mission-based sector offers.
My passion is to identify the most effective ways to solve the underlying problems impacting inner-city youth living in under-resourced communities. During my tenure with the Walter Sondheim Nonprofit Leadership Program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, I created and led a summer literacy program for youth, ages 5 - 13, at the Greenmount West Community Center. Through OrgForward, a consulting firm led by Chief Compliance Officer for Maryland Nonprofits Justin Pollock, I received extensive nonprofit leadership trainings that helped me, along with my cohort, design a hypothetical nonprofit organization aimed at combating recidivism for African American males, presented to Maryland state delegate, Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg.
The Summer Reads nonprofit, a part of the AmeriCorps Vista program, had a two-pronged approach, combating literacy issues among youth in Baltimore city as well as hunger issues within the city. Funding and resources from the Maryland Out-of-School Time Network (MOST) and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation helped to make the program a success which led to many smiling faces, full bellies, and a more promising future for Baltimore City youth. Working with these nonprofit organizations led to formal training sessions hosted at the Notre Dame of Maryland University, which catalyzed my desire to manage similar non-profit programs and fueled my love for macro social work.
About two years ago, I worked directly with youth, young people with disabilities and mental health concerns with Delaware’s Department of Family Services. Developing relationships and working closely with the people in these communities provides deep insight into the real issues diverse populations face that researchers outside of these communities cannot fully articulate. I found out that it was super critical to begin naming the issues that I saw, and this motivated me to pursue and obtain my Master of Social Work Degree with a specialization in Community Action and Social Policy. While completing my master’s degree, I worked in a macro social work capacity, interacting within both macro social work within the scope of public health and more. Additionally, I served as Director of Development for a nonprofit by the name of Heard, an arts nonprofit that helps marginalized groups feel heard through creative expressions.
Although my career pursuits are at varying levels and often don't fit into "one clean lane", I still hold nonprofit management dear to my heart. I believe nonprofit programming is one avenue to create a more equitable world. It is my goal to one day serve a nonprofit, that expands literacy and critical thinking skills, and provides mental health services for at-risk youth through nonprofit management that is refined and proximate. As Mr. Stevenson goes on to write in his memoir,
“Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet.” I have decided to stand and to speak for the communities I serve.