emory-wire

"Veterans have a very different view of service. If you can do it, you just do it."

Air Force veteran Vonetta Daniels 02C just gets it done.

By Elizabeth Cobb Durel
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A fifth generation military veteran, Vonetta Daniels 02C completed her time in the United States Air Force and headed to Emory to complete her undergraduate degree. In late 2001, Daniels, a senior at the time, accidentally crashed the Caucus of Emory Black Alumni (CEBA) holiday party at Justin’s downtown. She was a non-traditional student, just out to celebrate her birthday. But soon after, Daniels went to a CEBA meeting, was pegged to be the service chair, and that is where it all began.

“Veterans have a very different view of service. If you can do it, you just do it,” says Daniels, now the president and CEO of VYD and Associates, a management and strategy consulting firm working primarily in healthcare, financial services, non-profit, aerospace, and defense.

Before launching her firm, while she was building her post-college career at companies like BearingPoint, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Suntrust Bank, she was also building her post-college career in service, which is at least equally noteworthy. The list is vast, but a few common themes pop up throughout: Veterans, underserved communities, corporate community service, and Emory.

Daniels served on the Emory Alumni Board for three years. For her first major undertaking, Daniels was charged with growing the alumni service project from a single service project to an international day of service. She went at it with military precision and in 2004, her first year on board, Emory Cares went from one project to 80. And it kept growing from there. Now, a little more than a decade since she left the seat, Emory Cares has more than 100 projects worldwide with thousands of volunteer hours happening on that day.

Vonetta Daniels at the Toolbank
“Really, that is how it all began,” Daniels says. “Emory is how I got involved with all the rest of the service projects. They were all through Emory connections.” Since then, Daniels has served in leadership roles with Atlanta Toolbank, HouseProud Atlanta, and KIPP South Fulton. She’s been a member of Leadership Dekalb, the Dekalb Veterans Advisory Board, the Georgia Chapter of Women in Defense, and the list goes on and on.

“That’s kind of how it is when you are a minority in that kind of environment,” says Daniels. “With Emory and CEBA, it’s like going to a family reunion. You’re just supposed to stick together and support each other.”

In October, she attended the 2002 Reunion party. “It’s a great opportunity to see everyone because we are all at varying places in our life,” says Daniels.

As for the rest of the year, when Daniels is not working hard to grow her company and build her community, you might find her perusing the goods at her local market. When the Scottsdale resident was looking for a home, Daniels told her realtor she could only look at houses within a few minutes of the CDC, Emory, or the Your Dekalb Farmers Market. "I like to eat healthy, but when I come to your house for dinner, I’ll bring pie,” says Daniels. “And everyone says, ‘You sure do bake a lot for a skinny woman.’”

Wondering how to get involved? www.alumni.emory.edu/readyformore