To fully appreciate everything Danielle Horras has done for education in Idaho, you have to understand her past.
Horras was raised by a single mother and moved from Texas to New York to Florida and California before settling in Idaho, where she spent most of her formative years.
“I was one of those students who people didn’t think would go to school, based on my demographic and my family,” Horras says. “When I was in high school, I thought people who went to school weren’t like me.”
Horras became the first of member of her family to attend and finish college. She graduated from the University of Idaho.
“My mom, who worked two jobs while raising four kids when I was going to school, was always an advocate for higher education even though she had no experience in it,” Horras says. “She just knew it was the right thing for me – and I think it became a part of my identity.
“I feel like I have an opportunity and a little bit of a purpose to help grab that population and pull them through.”
Horras is the director of strategic initiatives at her alma mater, a position she accepted after spending 10 years working at Stevens-Henager College and Carrington College in Boise, where she often motivated people to attend college.
“I facilitate conversations between organizations with similar goals – that’s the thing I just love.
My purpose is really to help educate by leading dialogue and shaping those conversations.
“I wasn’t selling anything,” Horras says. “Students tell you what they want … They just need to talk about it and figure out what are the things bothering them in their current direction in life and how, maybe, school is the thing that can take them where they want to go.”
Her position at the U of I has allowed her to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. She sits on several different boards of directors.
“The thing that stands out to me the most is Danielle’s ability to get things done,” writes Charity Nelson, the Project & Strategy Manager for the Boise Valley Economic Partnership, in a letter recommending Horras for this award. “No matter what type of action item she takes, whether it is a huge task or a small detail, Danielle always follows through.”
Horras describes her role as a facilitator who “helps identify the action plan that bridges the gap between the vision and the principles of the organization.”
She’s made some strong impressions in the community.
“The members of our IBE Board are current CEOs of some of Idaho’s largest companies or former CEOs,” writes Rod Gramer, president and CEO for Idaho Business for Education. “As you can imagine, our board members are hard to impress and very demanding. But to a person, our board members were impressed by Danielle’s skills as a facilitator and strategic planning leader.”
She’s gone from shaping students’ futures to the U of I’s. Horras played a big role in developing the school’s strategic plan.
“I love the University of Idaho,” she says. “This job – I can’t imagine doing anything else.”