Partnering to Advance Social Justice

As an undergraduate at Beloit College, Dan Weyl’10 sought to apply his anthropology studies to social justice. Today, as a co-founder of Four Corners Global Consulting Group, LLC, he and his partners work with non-profit organizations in the U.S. and abroad to help them maximize their social impact.

Dan Weyl’10 enrolled at Beloit College hoping to find the supportive environment that would enable him to take risks and give him the confidence to improve the quality of his work. He not only found that environment, but continues to be influenced today by lessons learned at Beloit.

“As an anthropology major, I was particularly influenced by the department’s cultural anthropologists, Nancy McDowell and Jennifer Esperanza. Jennifer, for example, taught me that anthropology can be more than just an academic subject. It can be a practice for good and a force for change and social justice.”

Dan also studied religious studies, where professor Natalie Gummer helped him become a more critical and self-reflective thinker, and to understand how he views the world. He also learned how to connect with people.

“Both disciplines gave me the tools to navigate cultural and linguistic differences, both personally and professionally.”

He got a chance to do just that when a Weissberg Program grant allowed him to intern with Lutheran Social Services in Washington, DC the summer after his junior year. On return to campus, he followed up by writing a senior thesis on the resettlement of Iraqi refugees.

He had already studied abroad for a semester in his first extended experience outside the U.S.

“Studying abroad in India through the International Program for Service Learning was exhilarating, scary, and overwhelming. It not only required that I constantly step outside my comfort zone, but that as an outsider, I cultivate respectful relationships.”

Dan’s service site was the Mother Theresa Home in Kolkata, where he helped care for the poor and dying. “I learned the gift of being present with people who were alone. Today when I need to summon strength, I look back on that experience.”

The experience also reinforced his understanding that the international development space is rooted in and deeply influenced by white saviorism, white supremacy, and colonialism. “My experiences in DC and India, my subsequent work, and of course also my studies, have taught me to try to be a facilitator who can help uplift the social change work being done by people on the ground. They are better equipped to identify solutions to what faces them than an outsider.”

Dan’s path to his current consulting role involved building on experience and skills and acquiring new ones as he moved from one position to another.

Thus, immediately after graduation from Beloit, Dan worked as a case manager in a refugee resettlement organization. From there he moved to Heartland Alliance, providing services first to LGBTQ refugees in the U.S. and then to LGBTQ refugees abroad.

Dan then shifted from providing services to soliciting grants to support organizations’ missions. A four-year stint at Rotary International as a regional grants officer for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East was followed by a year as director of grants at Malcolm X College in Chicago, with a focus on achieving greater equity in education.

By this time, however, Dan, together with two partners he’d met at Heartland, had launched Four Corners Global Consulting Group, LLC to help non-profits, including educational institutions, maximize their social impact. The mission is consistent with the commitment to advancing social justice that guided both Dan’s studies at Beloit and every step of his career development.

“I was thrilled to take the leap a few months ago to join Four Corners full-time. Until then, I was juggling responsibilities there with a full-time job. Like many others post-COVID lockdown, my partners and I were looking for greater flexibility and autonomy in our work. We knew each other well from our time together at Heartland, and have been able to draw on our different strengths and expertise to learn together to build and manage Four Corners. We’re also firmly committed to partnering; every one of our contracts involves two of us. One of us may take the lead on any given contract, but the other will be there to serve as a thought partner. This makes us more effective.”

Dan and his partners designed Four Corners to serve clients both around the world and at home, where they live in Chicago in keeping with their values, principles, and priorities. The work also requires that they continually learn new subject matter and develop relationships with people in other organizations.

Dan’s education at Beloit College was good preparation.

Dan Weyl'10 Dan Weyl’10“I left Beloit a stronger writer and communicator, better critical thinker, and more self-reflective person. Those skills are useful no matter the profession you pursue. And whether you are writing a report, an evaluation, or an email, emotional intelligence needs to be behind the writing. Beloit teaches you that.”

Through Beloit’s curriculum and experiential learning, Dan also learned how to be social in professional contexts, and to be agile and flexible. “In a career, in order to be productive, you are going to need to adapt to different leadership styles, bosses, colleagues, and partners. Take advantage of opportunities at Beloit to acquire the skills you’ll need post-graduation. It will put you several steps ahead.”

By: Elizabeth Brewer
November 15, 2021

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