Jeff Dann, ’74: NUAA’s New Leader
March 27, 2013 by Lisa McMahon, M.A.'09
Jeff Dann, ’74, comes from a “Niagara family” – his mother, Ann, worked at the university for 10 years, and four of his six siblings, including his twin brother, Mike, are alumni. Some of his fondest memories and closest friendships were formed during his four years on Monteagle Ridge, and he even met his wife, Maureen (Hoag), ’74, there.
Not bad for a school that he admits was his Plan B.
“I wanted to go out of state or live on campus,” he explains.
However, the allure of being able to live on campus as a student at an out-of-town school soon gave way to the reality that it was simply too expensive an option for someone who was paying the bills on his own. So Jeff shifted his focus to his second-choice school.
He’s never regretted that decision.
Niagara, he says, “really develop(ed) me as a person. I was somewhat of a wallflower in high school and I really came out of that and excelled as a result of the opportunities that Niagara gave me.”
Jeff took advantage of all those opportunities. He was active in student government, serving on its entertainment committee (he helped bring Bruce Springsteen to campus) and as junior and senior class president. He was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi and Sigma Alpha Sigma, and played intramural basketball on a team comprised of his high school friends. Through these activities, he developed lifelong friendships and earned the respect of his classmates, who selected him as the recipient of the Niagara Medal at graduation.
Despite his busy social schedule, and the fact he always held a job or two off campus, Jeff’s grades kept him at the top of his class, and by December of his senior year, he had been offered jobs by five of the Big 8 accounting firms. Following the advice of recent Niagara graduates, Jeff opted to join Price Waterhouse.
His first weeks with the company were anything but typical. He had been in Europe when the rest of the new hires were taking a mandatory 30-day training program (“I had the audacity to tell Price Waterhouse that I couldn’t start July 1, so I started in September when I returned.”) and, due to a broken ankle that he suffered two days before the program ended, he had to attend the company’s annual dinner dance with a cast on. But even worse, he recalls, he was the only one in attendance who had on a bow tie.
“Everyone else had the traditional Price Waterhouse pinstripe suits and ties,” he says. “So I was an outlier.”
Even with that inauspicious start, Jeff became a rising star with the organization, making his way from the audit side to the management consulting services division and finally to a partnership track over the course of eight years. He then decided to use the knowledge and experience he gained as a healthcare consultant at Price Waterhouse to pursue his entrepreneurial interests and began working with a number of start-up businesses in the life sciences and in medical group management.
In 2008, he made a change that he describes as the highlight of his career: he left the world of structured employment to devote his full-time attention to entrepreneurialship.
“To be able to pursue my own dreams and do it on my own terms, with both the pros and cons and risks of owning and operating a small business, was very professionally and personally rewarding,” he says.
Today, he is president and CEO of Sleep Insights Management Services, and co-owner and CFO of Advanced Transcription Technologies, both based out of Rochester, N.Y. He’s also involved in the launching of two new businesses, a telehealth software company and an infusion therapy services company.
“I love the challenge of running a business,” he says. “My priorities are focused equally on the external threats and opportunities that affect the business as well as hiring and managing the internal staff to execute the day-to-day operations. It’s the excitement of the unknown that drives me every day.”
Niagara’s Vincentian tradition also lives through Jeff and his wife, who have made community service a priority in their lives. They are active in their church and were steadfast volunteers for their children’s school, which, like many Catholic grade schools, was struggling with enrollment and funding issues.
“We saw an opportunity to give some of our talent to help grow the school,” Jeff says. “I got involved as the founding school board member and school board president to help with that vision of growth and sustainability. And Maureen got involved as the swim coach. The school grew significantly at the same time our kids were there.”
Jeff has also been active in several professional trade organizations, both in the accounting and in the healthcare field, and is a fellow of the American College of Medical Practice Executives. He is also a member of the Niagara University board of advisors, and recently took on the role of president of the university’s Alumni Association to assist its alumni relations professionals and the volunteer staff successfully redesign the alumni association into what is emerging to be the future model of these kinds of organizations.
“This is an opportunity for me to transition from my advisory board role and put more focus on the association,” he says, noting that success will be measured by a significant increase in chapter participation and annual giving.
Lofty goals, perhaps, but Jeff appears to be the right person for the job.