Dana Ealey, MS ’96, was immersed in a world of order and consistency while serving in the United States Air Force.
The predictability of his daily routine taught him to, in his words, “expect the expected.” However, life after the military wasn’t quite as certain or structured. Fortunately, the Master of Science in Business Organizational Management he earned from the University of La Verne while serving in Alaska prepared him for a life and career that was anything but predictable.
“One of the things we learned in the leadership class was situational leadership theory…the message from that theory and learning about it guided my leadership philosophy of adjusting to situations as they occur and [then] adjusting your leadership style accordingly. I still draw upon much of the knowledge that I learned from that graduate program,” he said.
Ealey’s career has taken flight since his time in the United States Air Force. His willingness to remain flexible, prepared, and open to new opportunities has helped him navigate his way to some of the top positions in his field.
He spent most of his career in the US government, including time with the Department of Defense, where he served as a senior policy analyst and provided subject matter expertise to Air Force staff at the Pentagon.
After his time with the Department of Defense, Ealey transitioned to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2008 and joined the human resources department, where he spent nine years as a chief of talent management and later as a staff director. Due to his strong leadership skills and willingness to take on new opportunities, he was promoted to a senior level executive position. Better known in the field as Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, he views his past role in senior leadership at the DIA as the culmination of his career.
During his time with the DIA, Ealey was deployed twice to Afghanistan. His trips gave him the chance to see firsthand how his work contributed to national security. This was an opportunity not typically given to those who serve in human resources.
Now the chief of human resources at the Congressional Budget Office in Washington, DC, Ealey works with the agency that provides budget analyses for Congress. While he enjoyed his time serving in the executive branch, he was eager to take on this new position within the legislative branch to see a different side of government.
As Ealey settles into the tail end of his career, he reflects on the ebbs and flows of his professional journey. He is grateful for the knowledge and opportunities that came from both his successes and failures and remains ready and open to whatever life may have in store for him.
“Getting out of the status quo of what you think a career might look like, that stairstep pyramid approach is probably long gone from how you progress. It’s really your education and breadth of experiences that prepare you,” he said.