Dan Leffel ’67 has carved distinguished careers in two disparate fields – business and photography – and still has made time to actively serve his communities. While at SHS Dan played in the Whippet band, lettered in golf, served on Student Council, was a delegate to Buckeye Boys State and was voted Most Outstanding Boy in his class.
He then earned a degree in electrical engineering – finishing second in his class – at General Motors Institute and a master’s in computer science at Texas A&M. Later he completed the Young Executives Program at Penn State. He rose through the executive ranks at GM and played a key role in the acquisition of Electronic Data Systems where, after EDS was spun off as a $17 billion company, he retired as chief information officer.
Subsequently, Dan launched a career in photography and today travels the world – from Alaska to Nepal to Antarctica to Iceland, Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and points in between. Along the way he has served as a youth baseball and basketball coach and chairman of the board of Practical Parent Education, a program that educates parents globally. It became an independent company under his leadership and now offers parent education around the world. He also has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year for Collin County, Texas. For more than 20 years, he has mentored high-potential women executives.
Committed to preserving and sharing wildernesses, wildlife and indigenous cultures via his photography, Dan has demonstrated his belief that experiences are more important than things. Examples: Rafting Grand Canyon three times, watching the northern lights in Alaska and Iceland, photographing on all seven continents and in more than 40 countries, hiking the Inca Trail in the Andes, swimming with sharks while visiting the Galapagos Islands, dining with nomads in Kashmir, photographing native festivals in several Asian nations, and more.
Says a friend, “Although Dan has led a successful life in all aspects, he has remained humble and down to earth, with a fulfilling personal life.” He lives in McKinney, Texas with Joanne, his wife of 47 years. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Nominator: Joanne Leavitt Leffel ’70.