2019 Middle States Hall Of Fame
Dan Faber: Growth Through Education
Dan Faber: Growth Through Education
At his core, Dan Faber will always be an educator. For the last two decades, he’s proven that through his work in tennis and the community.
“Education has been a part of everything that I've done,” he said. “I can’t imagine a time when that won’t be the case.”
Currently the Executive Director of the USTA Foundation, Faber’s role combines tennis and education to positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of kids and hundreds of communities each year. It’s the perfect position for Faber, who comes from a family that has deep ties to service, community and giving back.
Before Faber began his career as a school teacher and educator through tennis, he was a happy-go-lucky kid in Michigan, playing sports in his friends’ front yards.
“When I was younger, we played as many sports as possible,” Faber said. ADVERTISEMENT “I grew up in a neighborhood where that was just part of your DNA.”
Along with football and basketball, one of the most popular sports in Faber’s neighborhood was tennis. Many of the area fathers played, and that inspired the kids to give it a shot.
“We would set up a string across our driveway and play,” he said. “I remember unraveling golf balls so we could use the core of the golf ball to hit with tennis racquets.”
“It didn’t always work very well,” he laughed.
Faber stuck with it. At a young age he connected with Kirk Anderson — still one of the most recognizable coaching figures in tennis— and began planting his roots in the game.
Those early lessons evolved into success as a junior player, and Faber became a standout at his high school under the tutelage of Dwayne “Tiger” Teusink, a no-cut coach and history teacher who inspired Faber to learn and improve in the classroom and on the court. Teusink was one of the major contributors to Faber wanting to work in education, while also growing his appreciation for tennis.
Faber went on to attend Albion College in Michigan, where he studied education and competed on the tennis team. He landed his first job as a teacher soon after college, and began to truly understand his love for helping kids.
Fast-forward a few years to 2000, and Faber found himself talking with Bill Mountford, who connected him to the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) of Trenton. Soon after, he took the role of Director of Program and Development.
In his position, Faber was in charge of developing and implementing tennis and education programs. He also worked during that time at Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pa. as a classroom teacher, in addition to working with the school district as a specialist to implement math and technology curriculums.
That experience was invaluable for Faber in his career. When he took over at NJTL of Trenton as Executive Director in 2005, he had a solid understanding of school systems and curriculums and how that meshed with the community. He matched that with tennis to help NJTL of Trenton reach new heights.
Under Faber’s leadership and with the support of people like Amy Smith, Beth Deitchman, Ginny Mason and Albert Stark, NJTL of Trenton’s revenue doubled to more than $1 million. Years of fundraising and building a network of support culminated in the rejuvenation of Trenton’s historic Cadwalader Park Tennis Courts, which now feature six renovated hard courts, 14 “10 and Under” short courts, a stadium court and a two-story pavilion. The courts continue to be a centerpiece in NJTL of Trenton’s community work on a daily basis.
“Prior to that, our staff started every morning pulling the weeds out of the clay,” he said. “You would see the kids playing on the courts and just think, ‘They deserve better than that.”
Faber said the growth of the organization and the Cadwalader Park project never would have happened without the success of the Academic Creative Engagement (ACE) Curriculum, which was one of his most outstanding achievements during his time in Trenton. The ACE Curriculum is a tennis-themed academic curriculum that is utilized around the country, and available to all NJTL chapters in the United States. It’s aimed to make learning more fun in an out-of-school setting by connecting it to tennis.
As busy as he was with work, Faber also has found time to volunteer. He credits Jeff Harrison for recruiting him to serve on the Middle States Board of Directors, where he helped shape efforts of the section and became better connected with the USTA.
Each experience helped lead him to his current role, in which he’s directed the USTA Foundation to unprecedented growth in recent years.
True to his character, Faber takes every opportunity he can to thank others and recognize their part in his success. This includes Amy Smith, Judy Levering and Tom Chen — whom he says gave him guidance and opportunity in recent years. He doesn’t ever go more than a few minutes without mentioning his wife, Jennifer, and his daughter, Sydney.
“There is no way that I could do what I’ve been able to do without my family. Without their support,” he said. “By far, they always come first. There is nothing better than spending time with my daughter and my wife. They are definitely the most important thing in my life.”
Dan Faber began his career in education, and one day, that’s exactly the way he plans on finishing it. Of course, there will likely be quite a bit of tennis involved.
“This is who I am,” he said. “Tennis and education are in my blood.”