Dan Sullivan ('85) Profile

Dan Sullivan '85
Dan Sullivan '85

Eight years ago, Dan Sullivan purchased several buildings in the far north neighborhood of Chicago that had been built by his grandfather in 1915. They were part of a community that had seen significant decline and Dan was determined to revitalize the place where he was born and where three generations of his ancestors had lived much of their lives.

Less than a decade later, Dan has helped turn the local community around. He owns and runs the popular Charmers Café and the Dagel and Beli Shop, and manages several other the properties. He is also the father of four children: thirteen-year-old twins, Shannon and Conor, and 11-year-old twins, Denis and Liam. In addition to this, he is a financial representative and manages investments for a number of clients.

Although he graduated with a degree in Zoology, Dan enrolled at Miami University with the intention of getting a pre-Med degree by studying Physics. He joined the Honors Program and discovered that his honors classes offered him more memorable and engaging learning than his others, specifically a first-year English course and his honors physics lab.

The English course focused on Irish literature and it was in this class that Dan says he “learned to write.” Before each session he was required to read one Irish short story and prepare to write an essay about it in one hour from start to finish while sitting in class the following week. This format inspired Dan and his classmates to build crucial skills in organization and planning that are so important to writing well. It was this practical understanding of the writing process that Dan says was invaluable and had a significant impact on his future college work. Dan says that his work in that class “was one of his most memorable and rewarding experiences at Miami.”

In his honors physics lab, Dan remembers how each week he and several other students met in a lab for hands-on experimentation. During one project in particular, Dan and his peers created a way to measure the trajectory of a bullet. Using a complex, self-made magnetized contraption that included a falling cup and “bullet” (the magnet that was launched), he and his classmates endeavored to launch the bullet across the room and drop it into the dropping cup just before each touched ground. It took the entire class time to build the device and numerous attempts before the experiment finally worked. Like a Hail Mary pass, as the buzzer for the end of class was sounding, the final attempted bullet was sailing through the air. Everyone’s attention was fixed to hear the sound of the bullet hitting the bottom of the bucket before they both crashed to the floor. The cheer that rose was no less victorious than when Miami beat Northwestern by scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter the year NU won the Rose Bowl.

Dan also dabbled in entrepreneurship while at Miami, after buying and running a small company called “Flag Miami” with one of his fraternity brothers, Michael Rom. Together they expanded their flag sales from Oxford where it started, across the country from West Coast to the East. By the time he reached graduation, his hands-on experiences helped him land a position in new product development at Procter & Gamble—despite his not being a business major.

Eventually, Dan left P&G, “merged” with Lauri Massman (an ’87 Miami grad), and moved to Scotland, where she was stationed as a Lieutenant with the US Navy. Dan continued to develop his expertise in starting new businesses, while working with a number of large corporations and a few smaller family-run companies, both as an employee and as a consultant and ultimately he returned back home to the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Twenty-four years later, Dan continues to value education and meaningful learning, especially for his family. His four children attend the Chicago Waldorf School, where his wife Lauri also teaches. He and Lauri both support and embody the school’s goal "to develop free human beings who are able of themselves, to impart purpose and direction to their lives."