In Memoriam for Dana Mead

  • Dana Mead (WHF 1970-71): 1936-2018

    The White House Fellows Foundation and Association shares with a heavy heart the passing of Dana Mead of the WHF Class of 1970-71.

    The Mead Family has extended the following invitation to the members of the White House Fellows community to attend his burial on November 20, 2018:

    Thank you for all your support and kindness as our family reflects-on our dad’s passing. Please find below details on our Father’s Burial and Reception.

    Service and Burial:
    Date/Time: November 20, 2018 at 10:00am EST
    Location: Old Cadet Chapel at the West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

    A reception will be held in the Great Hall at the Herbert Hall Alumni Center at 698 Mills Road, West Point. The hall is on the post and has ample parking. The reception will start at 11:30am, ending at 1:30pm. Please see the below map of West Point for reference.

    In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made by mail to The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Attn: Julie Teer, 1275 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 or online at

    Warmest Regards, The Mead Family

    The Mead Family asked us to share these words with you, which appeared in the New York Times on November 7, 2018:

    Dana G. Mead, 82, passed away October 31st, in Boston, MA. Born in Cresco, IA, Dana graduated from West Point and later received a PhD in Political Science from MIT. Dana had a career that spanned the military, business, and academia. He served with distinction in regular Army units in Germany and Vietnam and taught in West Point’s Department of Social Sciences. Dana was a White House Fellow and served three years in the White House as the Deputy Director of the Domestic Council. After retirement from the Army he began a business career, first at International Paper and then as Chairman and CEO of Tenneco. Dana was a past Chairman of both the National Association of Manufacturers and of the Business Roundtable. He also served on the boards of Pfizer, Zurich, Textron, and Cummins. After retirement, Dana served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Corporation (MIT’s Board of Trustees) from 2003 through 2010. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations. He was also on the board of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the School for Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, and the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and sons, Dana, Jr. (D’Arcy) and Mark (Susie), his brother, Michael (Anna), and seven grandsons. Funeral services will be held at the Old Cadet Chapel at the West Point Cemetery at 10:00am on November 20th. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name can be made to the Boys and Girls Club of America, Attn: Julie Teer, 1275 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, or at:

    Many White House Fellows also wished to share their remembrances of Dana with you:

    Remembrance from Tom Johnson (WHF Class of 1965-66): Dana Mead brought great distinction to every role he undertook in life. His love of West Point, MIT, and the White House Fellows program was extraordinary. So was his love of his family and his friends. His integrity, intelligence, wisdom, patriotism, faith and humor were among the many personal qualities that his life exemplified. I will miss him greatly. Our nation so needs leaders of Dana’s superior leadership.

    Remembrance from Don Furtado (WHF Class of 1967-68): Dana will be fondly remembered for his wisdom, willingness to help his friends and community, plus his good humor and warmth. My sincere condolences to his family. We will all miss him.

    Remembrance from Geoff Shepard (WHF Class of 1969-70): Dana’s office was next to mine in the Old EOB during his fellowship year and we both served on the Domestic Council. I remember he drove to work in an old yellow VW Beetle convertible. Did you know that he worked on the Pentagon Papers for two summers, when teaching at West Point? He also headed MIT’s Board of Advisors for decades. I kept in touch with him over the years, and Dana, Nancy and I got to spend a fair amount of time at our 2016 ALC really catching up. He was a good man, a true soldier scholar, and we are fortunate to have known him.

    Remembrance from Ron Baukol (WHF Class of 1970-71): Dana Mead was one of the leaders of our White House Fellows class of 1970-71. He demonstrated Leadership of the finest caliber and friendship of the finest order. You could count on Dana to stand up for what was needed and right. Nancy and Dana will always be with us in our hearts and will represent the finest traits of the White House Fellows Program.

    Remembrance from Robert “Bud” McFarlane (WHF Class of 1971-72): Dana was a remarkable soldier, public servant, businessman and a great friend.

    Remembrance from Fred Benson (WHF Class of 1973-74): Once Dana Mead became a friend, he was all in. If there was something to celebrate, he was the first to call. If trouble knocked at your door, he was soon there. His perpetual motivation was to find ways to help his friends. All of them. All of us.

    Remembrance from Wes Clark (WHF Class of 1975-76): Dana Mead was the real example all of us sought to emulate. After his service in Vietnam, he won his WHF, where he became indispensable for the Administration serving on the Domestic Council. He was promoted so early to Colonel the Army didn’t know what to do with him – so he went back to the Social Sciences Department at West Point, where he inspired cadets and faculty alike. A few years later he was making his mark at Tenneco, and as a leader in American business through The Conference Board. As a Commissioner for the White House Fellows, Dana was a great friend and mentor to dozens and dozens of Fellows through the years. Dana, we miss you!

    Remembrance from Raoul Alcala (WHF Class of 1976-77): Like many other fellows, I’ve shared participation in the three major institutions Dana held in such high regard: 1) USMA, 2) WHF, and 3) MIT. We shared many experiences starting on the faculty of the West Point Social Sciences Department. In a few words, Dana was: Soldier, scholar, visionary, mentor, leader, compassionate, selfless, friend.

    Remembrance from Jack LeCuyer (WHF Class of 1977-78):

    I first met Dana Mead when I reported to West Point as an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences in 1976. He had just returned to West Point after having sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a 38-foot sailboat with Department Head Lee Olvey and West Point Chaplain Jim Ford to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of our nation. It was an auspicious introduction for me to an amazing profile in individual courage, leadership and commitment to the founding principles of our nation that would endure for 42 years of professional relationships and personal friendship. Dana’s professional accomplishments in government service, the business world, and leadership of the MIT Corporation are well known to the world at large and the WHF Community. As a footnote, significantly, and historically, he played a key role in the publishing of the Pentagon Papers. Because I had only reached the regional finals for the WHF Program the year before, I sought out Dana, my new boss in the West Point Department of Social Sciences and a renowned squash and racket ball player, for his counsel in applying for the WHF Class of 1977-78. He provided both sage advice and a strong letter of recommendation. More importantly, he (and Nancy) became a lifelong friend, counselor, mentor and strong supporter when I assumed the responsibilities of Executive Director of the WHFFA in 1999. Dana was always available for advice, even in retirement, as he traveled around the US — from his fishing retreat in Maine, to his children and their families in California, or on many cross-country road trips with Nancy — to his home base in Boston or in younger days, when he played tennis on a regular basis with our Valenti honoree Tom Brokaw.

    Dana served as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission for more than 25 years, serving both Democratic and Republican administrations where he and Roger Porter provided the sense of continuity so critical to the continuing success and relevance of the WHF Program at the presidential level. He mentored many WHFs to successful professional careers following their fellowship year. (Kien Pham, Art House, John Shephard, and others). And he was an active member of the New England group of WHF!

    Dana was a significant fund-raiser for both the WHFFA and West Point. In going through my papers after my own retirement, I discovered that year after year from his fellowship year (1970-71), he was at the forefront of all efforts to ensure funding for the WHF Program and the WHFFA. His leadership as a Tri-Chair of the recently completed Campaign for the WHF that raised over $10 million was extraordinary by all counts, both from a sense of personal, continuous and deep involvement in the campaign and in his own extraordinary financial contribution to ensure the continuing success of the WHF Program. In equal measure, he was a major donor and member of the Leadership Committee of the West Point “For Us All” Capital Campaign that raised more than $400 million to ensure the continuing success of West Point’s Margin of Excellence programs that are not funded by appropriated funds.

    Dana Mead was a servant/leader/statesman in the Army, West Point, the public and the private sectors, MIT, and the WHF Community of Mutual Support. His contributions were recognized as he has been: honored as a John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership awardee in 2001, named as a Distinguished Graduate of West Point in 2018, received numerous professional awards and honors, and, most importantly, secured a place in our collective hearts as one who took John Gardner’s challenge to all WHF to dedicate themselves to a lifelong career of public service.

    We shall miss Dana’s enduring leadership for our nation, West Point, MIT and the WHF Program. Our prayers and sympathies go out to Nancy and the rest of Dana’s family. As we say at West Point for our departed comrades: Well done, noble servant. Be thou at Peace.

    Remembrance from Earl Walker (WHF Class of 1980-1981): Dana Mead was my mentor. He was Deputy Head and then Acting Head of the Department of Social Sciences at West Point while I was there from 1975-1978. He was a great inspiration to me. Candidly I was always rather intimidated by him! He had been ahead of me at MIT and established a remarkable record. And I had the feeling that I never lived up to the remarkable record he set, yet that was simply a reflection of my own insecurity, not his leadership or his attitude. Thereafter, he spoke up for me as I sought tenure at West Point. I know he played a significant role in my selection. And later still, he supported me as I became President of the White House Fellows Association. What ever would I have done without him! He was such a remarkable person, so very talented and great fun to be around. We all have a lot to live up to in his memory.

    Remembrance from Doug Kmiec (WHF Class of 1982-83): Dana Mead’s support of The White House fellowship and his life dedicated to excellence and service was truly luminous and an example for us all. May he rest in peace.

    Remembrance from John E. Shephard (WHF Class of 1988-89): I was 18 years old when I met Dana Mead, walking into his class in American Politics. He was 38, by many years the youngest full colonel I’d seen at West Point, and just back from his stint on the White House Domestic Council, where he’d stayed on after his White House Fellowship. He was a great story-teller with a sly wit who, to our delight, set the text aside and instead brought the inner workings of Washington to vivid life with his fabulous anecdotes, populated with the same cast of characters we were reading about in the daily headlines of the New York Times. He loved sports and athletes, too, and would sprinkle in stories of great Army-Navy moments and antics on and off the field.

    Dana was my teacher, friend and mentor over the next 44 years. He became my boss for a while when he hired me at Tenneco after I left the Army, telling me he’d make a businessman out of me, because he never shirked a challenge! We shared affiliations with MIT and the Fellows program as well. He was an avid fly fisherman, loved the beauty and serenity of a high mountain stream and a big sky, though – take my word for it – he was extremely competitive! I inevitably sought out his advice at important junctures in my life, and he always made time to meet for lunch, chat in his office, or take a late night call.

    I last saw Dana and his lovely wife Nancy a few months ago up at West Point, where he was honored with a parade and the Distinguished Graduate Award. I ran into many others there whom I’d known over the years who had also been mentored by or otherwise worked with Dana in his various roles as an Army officer, educator, and business leader. It was a nice event and a fitting tribute to a man who, to me, was larger than life. When the reception was ending he still had that ever-present twinkle in his eye but seemed a bit winded, and was eager to get on the road with Nancy, their children and grandchildren, and drive up to their home in Maine. He loved that place and being surrounded by his family.

    I will miss him.

    Remembrance from Rodney Coleman (WHF Class of 1970-71): Dana and I first met at Airlie House, in 1970, as we were among the finalists for the 1970-1971 WHF class. He was Army and I was Air Force and, over the years we developed a wonderful friendship, oft times sharing sage advice, about military, business world and life issues. A wonderful man who personified Duty-Honor-Country. God Bless Dana Mead.

    Remembrance from Joan Abrahamson (WHF Class of 1980-81): Dana Mead was a wonderful human being, and I want to add my reflections on the gift of learning from him. We first met when Dana, Nancy and I travelled to China on the second official White House Fellows delegation to China in 1981. China is massive, and we were there a full month – often the first Westerners anyone had seen. At first, I thought that Dana wouldn’t be interested in talking with me, a newbie from the Class of 1980-81, but he was there for everyone with his thoughtful wisdom and gentle lion-like presence.

    Dana was the embodiment of what’s wonderful about our country. He was at home in the highest levels of the military, business and diplomacy – and taught all of us by how he lived his life. My love goes out to Nancy at this difficult time.

    Remembrance from David Moore (WHF Class of 1996-97): My favorite picture of Dana is this one, taken last year at the 2017 Annual Leadership Conference with two other champions of the White House Fellows program: Mike Ullman and Kien Pham. Dana and Nancy were planning to join us for the conference again this year. Sadly, they had to bow out unexpectedly a few weeks beforehand due to Dana’s health. And now, I realize, when I took this photo it was the last time I would see Dana. “Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”


    Remembrance from Carlos Del Toro (WHF Class of 1998-99): While I certainly did not know Dana as long as many of you, I did get to know him very well during these past several years on the Board. Dana adored the White House Fellows Program and devoted so much passion for the benefit of so many White House Fellows. I will dearly miss his counsel, but more importantly, I will dearly miss my friend. Fair Winds and Following Seas Dana and thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many.

    Remembrance from John Borling (WHF Class of 1974-75): With Dana’s passing, we lost one of the giants. I speak of the nation and not just our band of White House Fellows. His personal example and leadership will continue to inspire. Thank you Dana and, certainly, Nancy too.

    posted: November 15, 2018
White House Fellows Pay Tribute to Dana Mead

Over a dozen WHFFA members gathered at the Old Cadet Chapel on Tuesday, November 20th to attend Dana Mead’s funeral.

Joseph Van Valen (WHF 2018-19) Speaks with Adam Lashinsky of Fortune

Van Valen, whose WHF assignment was in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, discussed his role in tech decisions made in the White House.

Isiah “Ike” Leggett (WHF 1978-79) receives the 2019 Legacy of Leadership Award

The White House Fellows Foundation and Association (WHFFA) is extremely pleased to announce that we will be presenting the 2019 Legacy of Leadership Award to Mr. Isiah "Ike" Leggett (1978-79).

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