Danielle De La Fuente ’06, the Founder and CEO of Amal Alliance, was honored with the Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award. We were able to catch up with her to learn more about her remarkable journey since her graduation from Pardee.
After starting her career at Embassies, Danielle harnessed her experience to build crucial connections between the U.S. government and the Middle East during her time at the Department of Defense. Her undergraduate degree in international relations with a Middle East focus paved the way for her work, where she facilitated collaborations on vital issues like water and energy security. Subsequently, she contemplated continuing in government or pursuing a career with the United Nations after transitioning to a master’s program in Peace and Conflict studies from the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Life, however, took an unexpected turn when Danielle’s grandmother passed away and she found herself in Greece during the peak of the refugee crisis. Witnessing the suffering of displaced children and the lack of access to education and mental health support deeply moved her. In response, she founded Amal Alliance, initially as a passion project fully funded by herself, thinking she may assist 500 children or so. At that time, the field of mental health and psycho-social support for displaced children was in its infancy. However, Danielle saw an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge she had gained in diplomacy and conflict resolution to make a difference in the lives of these vulnerable children.
The transition from a career in defense to working with children may seem unconventional, but Danielle’s ability to connect the dots and leverage her expertise in diplomacy and global affairs proved instrumental. She collaborated with experts and built programs that combined play-based learning with the principles of peace and conflict resolution, creating some very cute and impactful programming. Her organization, Amal Alliance, has since grown and made a significant impact on the lives of refugee children.
Reflecting on her time as a student at Pardee School, Danielle highlighted the diversity of her friends, which created a rich cultural tapestry around her. She cherished the experience of learning about different countries and cultures through her friends, a microcosm of the global perspective that the Pardee School fosters.
When asked about advice for current Pardee School students or recent graduates, Danielle emphasized the importance of following one’s passion and being persistent and bold. She acknowledged that there will be naysayers and failures along the way but encouraged individuals to seize opportunities and change the world with the skills and tools they have acquired through their education.
Danielle also advises students to embrace networking and reach out to alumni without hesitation, emphasizing that common ground can always be found. Her journey reminds us that no matter how successful individuals are, they are still people. Pardee School boasts alumni worldwide, many of whom are eager to help. Most people are active on LinkedIn and willing to respond to messages, making cold emailing a valuable tool. Notably, Danielle’s cold email to even the Vatican yielded a response, resulting in connections with over twenty organizations.
Amal Alliance, with its flagship program “Colors of Kindness,” continues to transform the lives of refugee children. Danielle’s dedication, ability to overcome challenges, and commitment to turning opportunities into impactful solutions embody the spirit of a distinguished alumna awardee. Her journey from the Pardee School to effecting change with Amal Alliance serves as an inspiration to Pardee School students, faculty and alumni, illustrating that with determination and a desire to make a positive impact, one can change the world.
Amal Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) dedicated to empowering displaced and disenfranchised children through education and social development programs around the globe in both informal and formal education settings. Read more about this amazing organization here.