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Welcome, Dai!
We’re excited to have Dai Danhi join our Innovation and Research Department!  
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March 28, 2024

We’re excited to have Dejia “Dai” Danhi join Milagros, April, Bianca, Charlie Blue, Emily, Jenn, Kaitlyn, and Patricia in our Innovation and Research department, as a Design Coach.

Dejia “Dai” Danhi is a fierce advocate for young people, and they experience radical joy through self-acceptance and self-assurance. Drawing from their playful and competitive spirit, they enjoy working with young people in both the educational and athletic space. With their experience in higher education as an educator and designer, they have created a strong foundation in community and youth engagement. As an educator, Dai has forged a passion for creating spaces that encourages everyone around them to activate a deep sense of curiosity around self and how they move throughout the world.

Dejia “Dai” Danhi is a fierce advocate for young people, and they experience radical joy through self-acceptance and self-assurance.

In their previous role as Adjunct Faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art, they were lead researcher and facilitator for the Equity-Centered Principal Pipeline Initiative, Social Design Team. They worked with west and east Baltimore City school communities to intimately understand how principal leadership within schools are supporting the growth and well-being of Baltimore City students in and outside of school. 

Dai holds a Master of Arts in Social Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with a focus on Social innovation and Design Justice. As a graduate student, they leaned into their curiosity around shaping intentional inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community beyond traditionally-labeled inclusive public spaces. Specifically focusing on clothing stores, and how the experience of shopping can be ostracizing for Trans and Nonbinary folx, Dai used their expertise in Human-Centered Design to question how this experience could be reshaped with Nonbinary and Transgender lived experiences in mind. Through immersive qualitative research, they partnered with the local Baltimore City LGBTQ+ folx to redefine how expansive, inclusive, and welcoming clothing spaces can be.

Dai has built community in many spaces, but their favorite way to build community is through athletics. Outside of their time at Healthy Teen Network, you can find Dai activating their playful, competitive side through volunteering at Special Olympics D.C., a nonprofit committed to creating continuing opportunities for young people and adults with intellectual and physical disability through the joy of sports. Dai has found that engaging in physical activity can help build a sense confidence in your body and can be fun if it’s paired with a bit of friendly competition.

If they could wave a magic wand and do anything to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health outcomes, Dai would, “address the systemic barriers and misconceptions that disproportionately affect black and brown communities, such as black transgender and queer people. I would simply erase all minds that have the misconception that black individuals assigned female at birth have a higher pain tolerance, which prevents them from seeking the necessary contraception for menstrual pain and have caused them to be misdiagnosed for uterine cancer and endometriosis.”

Dai Danhi

We asked Dai what they wished they had learned in sex ed growing up but didn’t, and they shared, “where do I start, so much! But the main point of tension is around shame. Younger me would have blossomed a lot earlier if I was taught how to navigate shame around not being ready for sex and how those feeling can manifest into not loving parts of your body. The lack of celebration around being an autonomous person who deserves to “say no” and know they made an empowering decision should be taught in sex ed. I wished I learned that our bodies are OURS, and we deserve to love them and protect them in whatever way we see fit!”

When they’re not working, Dai enjoys “cooking with my roommates and hosting folx over at my house! In full confidence, I can say I’m not the best cook, but I can cook a good meal here and there; I recently made red miso ramen and it was hit!”

They also shared that “if I’m not making a mess in the kitchen, I’m most likely at my local park, either lounging in the grass, having a nice picnic with some of my friends, or skateboarding. I really enjoy movement, and skateboarding brings me so much joy. It’s a space for athleticism but is mainly a space to be in community for local trans and queer people. While the weather has been too frigid to skate, I have taken up a new physical endeavor, bouldering. I don’t think I’m gonna stick with it too long because I don’t like the idea of being closed in and super high of the ground.”

Welcome to the crew, Dai!  

PHOTO CREDIT: Natalie Kinnear on Unsplash

At Healthy Teen Network, we believe every young person has the right to be who they are and love who they love. And we see you, the professionals and caring adults, helping them do this. We know you do your best when you're connected to great opportunities and resources. That's why we're here...to help make those connections and support you. Read more about us.