COI Highlight: Introducing Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett


Dan Bennett is a Communications Director at UC San Diego Center for Community Health and a San Diego native who has worked on community-health projects for the past seven years, leading communications and messaging efforts, and helping organizations tell their story through focus on human impact, including storytelling training for organization staff. Dan spent more than 20 years as a reporter for daily newspapers in San Diego, and has also written freelance for the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and other regional and national publications, including numerous health publications.  Dan is the COI Media Domain Co-Chair.

When did you know that you wanted to work in media?

I grew up in San Diego, and at an early age was reading daily newspapers, watching television news and listening to radio news. I was compelled by the process of sharing information - how it was accomplished, and what it meant  -  and knew early on I wanted to be a part of that sharing, through media. These days, information is shared much differently, and anyone can do it. That presents some challenges, but I continue to see that effective and accurate information sharing is an important part of a vital and healthy community.

How did you become involved in the COI?

In 2010, I started work for UC San Diego Center for Community Health as communications manager for a CDC-funded project called Communities Putting Prevention to Work, implemented by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. The work connected to the goals of the COI, and I began working with the COI as a member of the Media Domain. I continued collaborating with COI on media while I was communications manager for the County's Healthy Works initiative, then stayed on the COI Media Domain when I returned to UCSD, now serving as the domain co-chair while working on REACH Chula Vista, a project advancing community-health opportunities in western Chula Vista, and REACH Be There, a project addressing heart-health and disparities in Southeast San Diego.

Why do you stay involved with the COI?

The goals of the projects I've worked on are similar in scope and purpose to those of COI, particularly in our common pursuit of policy, systems and environmental changes in San Diego County communities. Because of health-inequity issues, not everyone has access to healthy choices. The goals of COI, especially those involving such community partners as schools, business, government and more, are essential to healthy communities, and communicating those goals through key messages and sharing of information is an important part of the process.

What do you love about of your job?

Working with so many varied partners in San Diego County who all share like-minded goals and have so many creative methods of accomplishing those. I'm also excited about the new ways we share information, such as social media and purposeful use of video to tell stories. Storytelling - in this case the art of telling a story through human and community impact - is essential to the future of community health.

What are three words that describe you?

Listener, learner, communicator

What is your favorite place in San Diego?

I was born and grew up here and have seen the county change. I can't name a favorite, so I'll name a few where I've spent countless hours as a kid and an adult: Downtown, Balboa Park, Belmont Park, Qualcomm Stadium, Oceanside Pier, Carlsbad beaches, and my current South Park neighborhood.

What do you do for fun?

I coach Little League baseball. I also collect books with every intention of reading them, but, you know, soon.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Raising my two children, both now teenagers who have remained reasonably normal. Ha.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I climbed a volcano in Nicaragua alone in a rainstorm, and I can't parallel park even if someone is calmly giving me instructions.

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