Dance Marathon: Leaders undertake large workload


Juggling the workload of planning events for families and dancers alike, collaborating with sponsors, and overseeing 18 event committee members are just a few of the many tasks University of Iowa senior and Dance Marathon Event Director Becca Mitsos said she is responsible for daily.

“I’m terrified every day,” she said. “The euphemism I guess you could say is ‘you know exactly how to do your job once the Big Event is over.’ I mean, I will never ever be able to put a price on everything I’ve learned this year as a leader and every chance that I’ve had to grow.”

Mitsos coordinates events throughout the year, including Dancer Appreciation Week, Lime Days, and 100 Days Out to educate people and raise awareness for the organization’s cause. Mitsos’s greatest undertaking is to coordinate the main stage at the Big Event.

With many tasks to complete each day, Dance Marathon leaders have overcome a great deal of challenges this year. Fifth-year UI senior and Executive Director Daniel Morse tackles the tremendous responsibility of overseeing the 270 members who make up the leadership team with 11 executive council members.

“Most of what I’ve learned is on commanding a team,” Morse said.  “I really haven’t had very much experience leading an executive council in an organization or any work experience in an educational setting, so my executive director role has definitely taught me those skills.”

Setting goals for the organization, working with external partners, and meeting with fellow executive members are just a few of the responsibilities Morse conquers each day. Establishing a purpose, he noted, is key in the beginning stages of leadership.

“We have [a great deal of] students who serve on the Dance Marathon leadership team, so a lot of that is just building that counter-vision I keep talking about and really enforcing that to where we can sort of grow and improve as an organization,” Morse said.

UI senior and Family Relations Director Emily Dungan agreed that vision is what pushes her forward. Working in the hospital and maintaining direct contact with more than 600 families and approximately 250 families daily, Dungan says the reason behind Dance Marathon keeps her driven to complete her workload.

“I wanted to give my community and this organization sort of an insight into these families; to let them feel empowered and motivated by what these families go through and experience,” Dungan said. “I always try to tie that into everything, because these kids and these families are at the heart of every single thing we do as an organization.”

Morse and Dungan said that despite the workload and challenges, their jobs have taught them skills to prepare for careers, Morse in business and Dungan a long-term teacher in the hospital.

While it’s been a long process, Mitsos said, she believes everyone’s work will pay off at the Big Event and is excited for what’s in store.

“We all laugh about it, but I mean we really didn’t know what we were doing and still don’t but that’s the best part — we’re going to figure it out together,” Mitsos said. “If this year has been any indication to what the Big Event is going to be like, my team and I are going to be blown away.”

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