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Making the Vandal Connections

UI Boise director of strategic initiatives recognized as one of IBR’s Women of the Year


Danielle Horras is all about making connections.

While attending Borah High School in Boise, she witnessed the connections created between UI alumni. The Vandal family bond inspired her to attend the University of Idaho in Moscow.

“I saw Vandals in Boise were close to each other, they knew each other and helped out each other, and I wanted to be part of that,” Horras said. “UI was also the best opportunity to grow up and expand my horizons.”

At UI, she made more connections, especially as a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and several other student groups. She also connected with Joseph Horras, a UI law student who became her husband in 2005.

“Many of his family members are Vandals,” she said. “My husband, his brother and I all graduated the same year, it was such a great experience to share that together.”

A first-generation college student, Horras graduated from UI with a bachelor’s in communications and advertising in 2002. She decided to follow her passion for helping students and received her master’s in education in 2004.

“During my practicum, I worked with students in the general studies program, some were at risk of dropping out or might not have a career goal, and I would help them connect with resources and careers where they had a passion. And that was my hook,” she said.

Horras’ passion for people led her to a 10-year career in private education, and in 2015 she joined the University of Idaho Boise as the director of strategic initiatives.

“After 10 years of wanting to work for my alma mater, I don’t want to be anywhere else right now,” she said. “The impact the university has in the whole region motivates me. UI changes the state for the better.”

At UI Boise, Horras is still making connections: Some of her big projects have included creating partnerships in science, technology, engineering and math areas (STEM) and growing a partnership with the STEM Action Center in Boise. She’s grown connections among the area community colleges and UI through the creation of the VandaLink program. She also works to connect opportunities in the Treasure Valley with UI programs statewide, including in Moscow and Coeur d’Alene.

In addition to her work with UI, Horras volunteers with several nonprofit groups in the Treasure Valley. She sits on the board of directors of groups such as the Treasure Valley Education Partnership, Boise Watershed and the Idaho Non Profit Center.

This spring, Horras received recognition for her leadership in education and passion for helping students as one of the Idaho Business Review’s (IBR) 2017 Women of the Year. The IBR Women of the Year are selected among Idaho’s women who are shaping Idaho’s economic and community well-being through their outstanding leadership, mentoring efforts and community involvement.

Horras also works to grow economic development and showcase Vandal talent to potential employers in Idaho’s southwest region. Charity Nelson, project and strategy manager for the Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP) has worked with Horras on several economic development projects, including Boise Startup Week.

“BVEP is working on recruitment and talent attraction to the Valley. During Startup Week we brought students and employers together for three days, with tours, showcases and networking opportunities,” Nelson said. “UI is one of our valued stakeholders, and Danielle was key in bringing support for this event from the UI, which sparked other schools to also participate. We had more than 80 students join Boise Startup Week last year, and 50 were Vandals.”

It’s the type of outcome that Horras is proud of.

“I enjoy identifying opportunities and facilitating strategic plans. Above all, I enjoy learning and helping others to explore new ways to solve challenges,” she said.

Article by Maria Ortega, UI Boise

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