David Dance was born in Boston, MA in 1951. His family lived at 497 Columbus Avenue in the South End before moving to Arlington, Massachusetts in 1955. At that time the Dances were one of only three black families in Arlington. David attended Arlington Public Schools through the sixth grade and entered Brown & Nichols School now the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge. He Graduated with honors in 1970 and entered Harvard College after a language study tour to Russia that same year. As in undergraduate David was active in the black student organization (Harvard Radcliff African and African American Students Association, HRAAS). He was active in the Harvard out of Gulf Oil struggle that shaped the divestiture movement in support of the end of apartheid in South Africa. He served as the Chair Person of Political Affairs for HRAAS his senior year He did public service work with Phillips Brooks House Association serving in the Columbia Point Special Summers program (the precursor to the Summer Urban Program (SUP)). He also served as a Harvard Big Brother mentoring youth, and worked at the Highland Park Free School on Saturday’s during the term. He graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a B.A. in Sociology.
After graduating he worked as a substitute teacher working throughout the Boston public school system. He was hired to teach full time in a special social studies program for Copley High School, now the Snowden International High School of Boston. He spent the summer working for Political Discovery Inc., doing program design including designing a political science course for Boston’s first magnet high school. Political Discovery was a non-profit organization teaching civics to Massachusetts high schoolers and taking them to the seat of government in Washington, D.C.
He was accepted to Case Western Law School in Cleveland and attended two years before becoming an organizer for the Cleveland Tenants Organization. He served as a Board Member for the National Low Income Housing Coalition and worked with tenants nation wide to form the National Tenant Union in 1981. In 1983 he married, and returned to Boston as Executive Director of the Tenant’s Policy Council Inc., the first city-wide organization representing public housing tenants. Boston public housing was in federal court receivership at the time and the Tenant’s Policy Council went out of business as a by-product. He served next as Executive Director of the Franklin Field Task Force Inc., helping residents shepherd a $23 million rehabilitation of the public housing development to completion.
After that he took a government job as community relations specialist for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation authority. He worked on many projects over the years including handling community relations for the re-opening of two branches of the Old Colony Rail Road line to the Massachusetts south shore.
He taught middle school in Arlington in 1996 and 1997. He worked as a Community Organizer focusing on youth violence prevention and jobs for the Committee for Boston Public Housing Inc. prior to returning to Harvard in 2002 as a Director of Programs for the Phillips Brooks House Association. Phillips Brooks House Association is the largest student run public service organization in the U.S. with 80 programs and over 1500 students doing various types of public service work. Mr. Dance is responsible for most of the programs dealing with housing and advocacy, and geographically he works with programs in Dorchester and Roxbury.
1 Harvard Yard,
Cambridge, MA 02138