Dan Mahoney, '20

April 9, 2020
Student leader drives positive change on campus

Some people practice leadership. Some study it. Dan Mahoney does both.

“My most fulfilling leadership roles at the University of Richmond have been as Interfraternity Council president and peer sexual misconduct advisor,” the University of Richmond senior said. He served in these positions from December 2018 – January 2020 and January 2018 – December 2019, respectively.

“The IFC presidency is a traditional leadership role. I worked with a team of men within a hierarchy of authority to govern a specific community,” said Mahoney, a member of Theta Chi Fraternity.

“By contrast, as a peer sexual misconduct advisor, I worked with other team members in a non-hierarchal structure. We provided emotional support and connected people to resources when they experienced sexual misconduct. I was often the only male in the room and was privileged to work with and learn from so many strong, passionate women.”

Mahoney, who is double majoring in leadership studies and philosophy, politics, economics, and law (PPEL), said academics have informed his campus leadership.

“I’ve employed leadership techniques I learned in my Jepson School classes,” he said. “I’ve practiced empathy and empowerment and tried to delegate in a way that afforded team members the space to operate autonomously.”

These techniques paid off when planning and implementing large events like the University’s Mental Health Week in March 2019, Mahoney said. The IFC, Panhellenic councils, student government associations, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Wellness Education Bandits, and others worked with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to ensure the success of the weeklong program, he added.

“A passion for mental health work is shared across the entire IFC,” said Mahoney. “All chapter presidents mobilized their chapters. We were heavily involved in the University’s inaugural Break the Stigma walk during Mental Health Week.

“We gave walkers glow sticks, which everyone broke in unison to symbolize breaking the mental health stigma. Holding our lighted glow sticks, we walked across campus to the football stadium. About 600 students gathered on the bleachers to hear Spider football player Caleb Brooks give a keynote about how he has navigated his mental health experiences as a man and an athlete.”

Under Mahoney's leadership, the IFC rolled out programs to streamline and improve recycling efforts on fraternity row and raised enough money to conserve more than 2,200 acres of the Amazon rainforest. He initiated a university-wide discussion on how to make Greek life and other co-curricular and extracurricular activities accessible to all students, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Although confidentiality agreements prohibit Mahoney from sharing specifics about his peer sexual misconduct work, he said he is equally as enthusiastic about it. “Some of the peer sexual misconduct cases will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

The senior from Needham, Mass., also has honed his leadership skills through stints as a Jepson Corps member, Richmond College Student Government Association senator, student representative to the University’s General Education Committee, vice president of health and safety for Theta Chi Fraternity, and orientation advisor, to name but a few—all while maintaining a stellar academic record.

His wide-ranging efforts have not gone unnoticed. In March, he was one of five senior men awarded the Richmond College Medal in recognition of their character, scholarship, and leadership. In May, he received the University Mace Award for outstanding student. 

In nominating him for the Richmond College Medal, Associate Director of Greek Life Meg Pevarski wrote, “Dan has an unshakeable moral compass and lives his life with incredible drive and purpose. A role model for so many, he is always asking, what good can we do today? How can we make a lasting impact for the greater good of our community?”