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Dana Kaland '85


Partnerships In Change~ Founder and Managing Partner



Dana Kaland '85
Partnerships In Change collaborates with clients to enable them to inform, inspire and transform leadership and teamwork. For over two decades, Dana Kaland has partnered with organizational leaders to create innovative, timely solutions to challenging problems. Dana has coached over 100 clients from emerging leaders to the C suite executives. As a coach, Dana enables leaders to create more engagement, build stronger relationships, navigate the political landscape, and bring their authentic leadership style to work. Dana has consulted to over 300 teams to transform culture, inspire cohesiveness, infuse collaboration, and create high performing teams. Dana brings solutions and tools to create a vibrant and empowered workplace.

Prior to forming Partnerships In Change Dana served as Director of Employee Development at NCR Corporation. She received both her M.A. in Organizational Communication and her B.A. in Communication from San Diego State University.

What made you choose to attend SDSU?

I didn’t think in high school that I would ever attend college. My high school experience and my family didn’t suggest that as my path. When I eventually arrived at SDSU, I was a newlywed, a little bit older and in a different place than my classmates. I chose SDSU because it was local, but have always been very proud of my time as a student, teaching assistant, an adjunct faculty member.


What is your favorite college memory?

I don’t have one specifically, but an overall sense of comradery and community, studying at all hours with friends. We were bound together by the challenges of the program, it’s pace and volume of work, studying and getting through it together. One image that stands out in my memory: the ritual last minute pre class dash with my study mates and best friends; running up the hundreds of stairs from the furthest parking lot to Hepner Hall, gasping for air and clutching freshly typed research papers. This was before computers, and we were rushing to class on our way from the typist, which probably isn’t even a concept for students now, trying to get into the classroom before the professor locked the door. There was a real community with our peers in the classroom, sharing resources, notes and ideas. It was an indelible experience which ultimately led to lifelong friendships.

Who was your favorite professor and/or what was your favorite class?

My first Communication class at SDSU was an introductory course where you learn about career paths and how to do research. The class was in a large lecture hall, taught by then dept chair, Dr. Al Weitzel. He was so committed to his students, so warm and supportive. In that class, he took a special interest in me and woke me up to the possibility within myself. I gained a self-awareness in that class that I could be somebody. I believed in myself because he believed in me, and that was life changing. I felt something happening then, a connection to myself, and a desire to take ownership of my future.

If you were to give current SDSU students some advice, what would you say?

Know yourself, believe in yourself, and find a way to constantly connect your academic experience to where you want to be. A lot of people choose Communication because they haven’t identified their career path yet, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be moving forward. The sooner you connect what happens in the classroom to what’s important to you, the more meaningful your experience will be.

What are you currently reading? What’s your favorite book?

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I reread it often and recommend it to my friends.

What is your passion?

My family is my passion-hands down. Nothing matters more to me. I’ve been married for 32 years to the love of my life, who has been on this crazy journey with me. We have two amazing grown children and a busy, full life.

What is your motto?

“Bring your passion to your work, whatever your work may be. ” So often, young people are told to pursue their passion as their career, and if they aren’t passionate about their work, then they aren’t doing the right thing. I disagree with that. Whatever your chosen vocation, you can BE the passion. Pour your talent, creativity, intelligence, and gifts into whatever you do to make a living.

Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?

I founded my own consulting practice in leadership and team development over 25 years ago. Helping leaders create a vibrant, rewarding workplace culture is the best job in the world. I knew having variety and flexibility in my day-to-day was important, and that I would prefer an organic, changing life, so I built it for myself. There is nothing more exciting in my work than hearing from leaders, team members, and stakeholders that our work together has been transformational.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?

I would have a little bit of fun, do some more traveling to Prague and Italy. But, I would put the majority of my winnings towards trying to figure out how to eliminate Alzheimer’s, in honor of my mother. My mother was at one time an amazing smart hard working woman. Her life has shrunk to four walls and a bed. Its’ tragic.

Any other thoughts?

I would advise all students develop a practice of being uncomfortable early in their career, because that’s where learning and transformation happens. It’s human nature to stay comfortable, take classes only that you like, and spend time with familiar people. But where we learn about ourselves and the world is when we are uncomfortable. Put yourself out there, and see where it takes you. www.danakaland.com