Supporting Black Churches, Celebrating Black History

Keith Daniel builds bridges between black communities in Durham and at Duke 

Keith Daniel traveled with Duke students to Honduras in March 2012 to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Photo courtesy of Keith Daniel.

Name: Keith Daniel

Positions: Interim director for the Black Church Studies Initiative and program manager for the 50th anniversary of desegregation at Duke

Years at Duke: 22

What I do at Duke: I am an ordained minister, a student in the doctorate of divinity program at the Divinity School, and I hold two part-time positions: interim director for the Black Church Studies Initiative and program manager for the 50th anniversary celebration of the first black undergraduates at Duke. I'm wearing a lot of hats, but they center on building bridges between Duke and Durham and celebrating the black community in both places. It has been especially interesting to help plan the nine-month long commemoration of desegregation at Duke, "Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students at Duke University.

How I got my job at Duke: I graduated from Duke in 1990 and immediately came to work first for the Career Center, then for Fuqua, then for Human Resources. I took an educational leave of absence to go to Duke Divinity School for my master of divinity degree, and when I graduated, I started working for Duke Chapel as director of community and campus engagement. From there, I moved into the two part-time positions I am in now.

To start a conversation with me, someone should ask me about: Questions of faith and theology. But I also enjoy listening to people's stories. It is inspiring to hear what other people have endured and how they got to where they are.

If I had $5 million I would: Tithe at least 25 percent to the charities and churches I am affiliated with. With the rest, I'd strengthen my family's financial independence and then try to figure out how to best leverage the money to help others.

My first job: Helping my Dad deliver The Washington Post when I was about 8 years old. I remember getting up at 4 a.m. and delivering the papers in big apartment buildings where my shadow would pass me over and over again as I ran down the long hallways. I don't know if my Dad ever paid me, but I count that as my first job.

My dream job:  When I graduated from Duke in 1990, I wouldn't have said being an ordained minister was my dream, but now I feel this is God's dream for my life. 

What I love about Duke: The incredible diversity of people I meet and work with, and the fact that Duke is in Durham. My parents are both natives of Durham, so Durham is home even though I was raised in Washington, D.C. 

When I am not at work I like to: Spend time with my family. My son is a middle-distance runner, and my daughter is a gymnast, so sports take up a lot of family time. I've always loved sports. I was a wide receiver on Duke's football team when we won the ACC championship in 1989. 

If I could have one superpower it would be: The ability to bring every war in the world to a screeching halt. 

Something most people don't know about me: My first name is Madison. My parents only used that name when I was in trouble. But I'm proud of it, and it is what I named my son.