Alum Danielle Dumm: World Traveler Who Cherishes Democracy


Payton Van Pelt, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Danielle Dumm was born Danielle Smith, but she doesn’t shy from a challenge. She willingly embraced the unique last name ‘Dumm’ with a positive attitude.  

“I was getting so many false identity things with the last name Smith, that I was like ‘well,  Dumm is not great, but at least I won’t be Smith my whole life,’” recalled Dumm.

A 2004 alum from Notre Dame Academy, she never felt accustomed to the settled lifestyle in the Midwest.

“I think I always had that experience of not being here and not having five generations go back,”  explained Dumm.

Dumm’s parents aren’t originally from Green Bay, but they have settled here.

“Our parents transmit a lot more to us than they realize, and part of that is that feeling of being somewhere else,” she said. “It made it easier to go to other places when I graduated.”

And go she did. Dumm studied international studies and political science at UW Madison. After graduating a year early, she went to India to work with domestic violence.

“I thought I knew how to help, but I’m not from there,” recalled Dumm. “It was really humbling to know all I don’t know.”

Once she returned to the United States, she did an internship in Washington, D.C. There she met her husband.

“We met. We fell in love. We’d been dating for awhile when he got the call to join the foreign service.”

So, Dumm’s husband did something bold: he asked her to marry him.

“I said, ‘Well, this seems like a really good adventure,’” laughed Dumm.

Soon after getting married, they moved to China.

Then India.

Then Italy.

But, more than her travels, Dumm learned what she values most.

“Part of what we find is that I lived in China where there was one government. And that government controlled everything,” explained Dumm.  “I hold my beliefs personally, but much more important is that there is more than one party.”

Her passion for democracy led her to the People’s Supper.

The People’s Supper is an organization started after the last election by a close friend of Dumm. It focuses on branching the gap between political parties and providing a safe environment for community and civil discourse. Breaching this divide is a challenge, but Dumm doesn’t shy away.

“There are things we agree on, and things we don’t agree on, but we need each other to be at the table,” said Dumm.

The People’s Supper sits people down at a table. They have dinner, and they start a conversation that one wouldn’t typically have with strangers.

“Conversation in America has died. People weren’t talking to each other anymore,” Dumm indicated. “We find people who have that gift for bringing people together.”

With a love for democracy and a passion for bringing people together, Danielle Dumm is the face of hope and community that the future desperately needs.