Cast Your VoteDan Semsel

Ohio Department of Veteran Services

Week 3:  Casually Cool

Photo by Steven Paul Photography | www.stevenpaulphoto.com

What do you like to do for fun?

I run.  A lot.  The Air Force no longer pays me to run, but I run anyway.  I started seriously running in 2003 as part of my cancer recovery when challenged by a co-worker to train for the Honolulu Marathon and I haven’t stopped since.  I’ve completed 62 marathons and also 15 ultramarathons ranging from 49 kilometers to 100 miles.  I’ve run a marathon or longer race in all 50 states with 49 states just in the last 10 years.  I have a ball feeling the wind when I’m running and will so do until they put me in an urn (anagram with run…clever, huh?) and spread my ashes on a remote trail in the woods.  My wardrobe for running varies depending on my goals but I like to express my Irish heritage and have fun when I race so I wear my kilt.  It’s a natural conversation starter and during a marathon, you have a lot of time to talk.  That said, I learned early on that rain and wind are not a good combo with a kilt!  For footwear, I prefer minimalist shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers which I believe have helped me run more naturally and reduced my risk of injury.  I’m in for a penny, in for a pound with the kilt and toe shoe combo.  You won’t miss me when I run by.


Week 2:  Workplace Image

Photo by Steven Paul Photography | www.stevenpaulphoto.com

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Honestly, I love hearing from people I’ve worked with in the past, both in the service and once I started working veteran employment issues, and they tell me about what they’ve done and where they’re working.  I stay connected with many of them and to be able to be a mentor to them charges me up.  I’m still hearing back from airmen I worked with well over a decade ago.  These airmen made me who I am and they taught me more than they ever learned from me.

My day-to-day wardrobe has to look respectable and represent my agency but at the same time allow me to be me.  I enjoy having the freedom to use bold colors and still hit the mark.  A suite or a sports coat and slacks can be dressed up or down to fit the event, meeting or function.  Shirts can add a splash or tone it down.  Ties can be traditional, exciting or whimsical.  After a quarter of a century in designated military attire, it’s fun to be able to play a little bit.  If I’m going to be on my feet all day at a community event or job fair, the wardrobe has to be comfortable while projecting personality, confidence and competence.  And never underestimate the impact of a fedora!


Week 1: First Impressions

Photo by Steven Paul Photography | www.stevenpaulphoto.com

What made you decide to pursue your current career or vocation?

After my military career, I wanted to do something to impact the lives of my fellow veterans.  In 2013, the unemployment rate for veterans in Ohio exceeded 11%, so I rose to the challenge of uniting a network of community agencies, employers, and support organizations to commit to encouraging and enhancing regional veteran employment.  After successfully launching the Veterans & Employers Connection initiative through Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, I decided to take a new approach through the Ohio Department of Veterans Service to help employers become more veteran savvy and thus became the first Regional Workforce Consultant in Southwest Ohio in late 2016.  Veterans’ unemployment now tracks at or below the state average, and I like to think the efforts I touched play a role.  Those who served should have an opportunity to work, play, learn, and thrive in our community.

If you want to be treated as a professional, you have to look the role.  Having a less than generous stature, I find the impact of a dark pinstriped suit grabs attention and hits the mark.  It makes me feel confident in myself and when going to an interview or meeting someone for the first time, self-confidence is vital.  For 25 years, I wore a uniform which did the talking … now the suit does it for me.  A power tie and some comfortable Italian shoes and … bam!  The tie bar pays homage to my grandfather, a tool and die maker who taught me that you could work hard and play hard and that at the end of the day, you want to walk away smiling.  He is my inspiration.

Why should people vote for you as “the Most Inspirational Man in Dayton?”

Dan proves that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.  Stronger than cancer, faster than fear!

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