Daniel (Danny) Cunningham is one of many valued professional affiliates of AgeSong’s elder communities. He is a California Licensed Fiduciary, who runs a professional care management company. He was Executive Director of an elder community and worked in hospice as a volunteer and trainer.
Following is his story, in his words. CLICK HERE to listen to interview with Danny on March 15, 2012.
A Brief Summary of My Career Path
- Dancer, Singer, Actor in 20s & 30s.
- Transitioned to working with Hospice Services from a career as a professional performer – initially as a volunteer and later on a Volunteer Coordinator; recruiting volunteers to work with the terminally ill and facilitating trainings for these volunteers.
- Worked with a home health agency initially as a scheduling coordinator to get my foot in the door. After a few years worked my way up to becoming Director of ClientServices of that Home Health Agency.
- Transitioned to Director of Operations position for a managed care organization.
- Became Executive Director for a 47-bed assisted living community with a strong focus on mental health.
- Was offered a position as Director of another fiduciary practice to learn the ropes of being a fiduciary with the intention that I would go out on my own eventually to begin my own practice.
- Co-Founded ProCare Professional Care Management, Inc. with Rafael Herrera. We are based in San Francisco and serve San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo Counties providing fiduciary and case management services. Our clientele include both seniors and young adults living with medical, neurological and psychiatric disabilities.
My Sister’s Influence on My Career
- Daniel Cunningham started his professional career as a dancer. A graduate of Allentown College of St. Frances de Sales with a Bachelors Degree in Dance. During his 20s and 30s, Mr. Cunningham performed professionally throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with Dance Companies and in Musical Theatre productions as well as adjudicating National Dance Competitions.
- At the height of Danny’s performing career, life circumstances brought things to a crashing halt. His 27 year old sister Ellen was diagnosed with advanced adrenal cancer. At the time, Danny was in Berlin, Germany performing with a European tour of West Side Story. When the tour closed, Danny returned to his home in New York and subsequently took a two-year break from his professional career as a performer. Danny became a primary source of support for Ellen as she battled this deadly disease; traveling from New Jersey to her appointments at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Danny would meet Ellen at her appointments at the hospital and he would be there for all of her hospitalizations. This was quite a window into Danny’s future as a professional fiduciary and case manager.
- During the last few months of her life, Ellen encouraged Danny to return to his career as a performer. She knew the sacrifices he had made to step awayfrom his performing career to be there for her. Following Ellen’s suggestion, Danny lined up a year’s worth of work including a national tour of Meet Me in St. Louis and some regional theatre productions. Sadly, Ellen lost her battle with cancer at the age of 29. After Ellen’s death, Danny headed out on the national tour of Meet Me in St. Louis. Because of Ellen, Danny had a year’s worth of work lined up.
- Danny spent a year of performing on a national tour. Sadly, Danny experienced even more loss as fellow performers were dying from AIDS, at the height of the epidemic; a time when the diagnosis was a death sentence. This was also a time when the whole country was fearful of those living with AIDS – afraid to touch – even to be in the same room with someone who was HIV positive. The call to step away from performing once again, was loud and clear.
- Danny’s work in social services began as a volunteer. At that time, the need for people to work with the men and women who were losing their battle to AIDS was monumental. Not only was there a need for caring and courageous individuals to work with the dying; there was an even greater need to give support to the families who were losing their sons, daughters, husbands, wives and children to this deadly disease.
- Having gone through the experience with Ellen, Danny could see all sides of this dire situation. It was shocking to watch as those battling AIDS were sometimes forced to hide their diagnosis and often felt guilty or ashamed about it. Some people were shunned by their families simply because they were diagnosed with AIDS. It was so terrible to see the difference between the way Ellen was treated in her journey through her terminal illness in comparison to the way individuals were being treated when diagnosed with AIDS. How terrible it was for some to have to face their terminal illness without having the support, respect and dignity that someone such as Ellen had in her own battle with cancer.
- Danny focused his energy on working with the dying which, at the time, was what the people living with AIDS and HIV were. There were no medications on the market that helped people to live a regular life despite their diagnosis.
For people who are interested in exploring the fiduciary world:
Daniel “Danny” J. Cunningham, CCF, NCG, CLPF
ProCare Professional Care Management, Inc
(415) 674-7961 (FAX)
AgeSong at Bayside Park | 1440 40th Street, Emeryville, California 94608 | 510-594-8800 | License # 015601452
AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities: Locations throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco and the East Bay: San Francisco-Hayes Valley • San Francisco-Laguna Grove • Oakland-Lake Merritt • Oakland-Lakeside Park • Emeryville-Bayside Park • Castro Valley-OakCreek
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