Some people find their calling in college. Take for example, Dakota Hall, who began organizing young people while a student at the University of Wisconsin. Hall used his experience mobilizing students to get engaged in the university’s budget process to launch a career helping the youth of Milwaukee, particularly helping people of color as executive director of Leaders Igniting Transformation. On Nov. 30, he took on a new position as executive director of the Alliance for Youth Action, which supports civic engagement through a network of local organizations. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
Building and sustaining youth power across the nation with an emphasis on BIPOC leadership.
Describe your very first civic engagement.
I ran for multiple club executive boards in high school and became president of our Green Club and Native American Student Association. Very proud of organizing to get recycling bins in my high school!
What was your biggest professional triumph?
Being a part of the amazing team with Leaders Igniting Transformation in Wisconsin that helped end the school resource officer contracts for Milwaukee Public Schools and got those dollars invested back into the classroom and futures of Black and Brown young people.
And your most disappointing setback?
I grew up politically in Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, and consistently saw cuts to my higher education institution including critical divestment from student services and support services for the most marginalized young people on campus. It took a while, but the same young people who saw cuts in their education were finally able to defeat Walker in the 2018 election. While we suffered setbacks under his leadership, we were able to do some deep organizing to remove him.
How does your identity influence the way you go about your work?
Being a Black and Indigenous male, I center the voices, stories and lives of BIPOC individuals the most. This country was born upon the sins, genocide, and slavery of Black and Indigenous peoples. Our resistance and resilience is the only thing that can set this country up for any sort of foundation that creates an environment for everyone to have the freedom to thrive.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Set time to think about what you want, prioritize your visioning space, build your dreams, follow your heart and remember to center joy.
Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry’s.
Banana ice cream with Reese's chunks and brownie bites.
What’s your favorite political movie or TV show?
“The West Wing.”
What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?
Check out the new Gen Z TikTok trends.
What is your deepest, darkest secret?
I am a triple Cancer zodiac sign and sometimes it shows, and I don’t like that.