Fashion and philanthropy

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Alum Danell Lynn explores—and changes—the world.

Danell Lynn says wanderlust fuels her lifelong ambitions of succeeding in business while making the world a better place to live. Since graduating with a BS in psychology eight years ago, Lynn has established two fashion businesses, founded two charities, and taught art to impoverished children in third-world countries. She has also managed to open a local art studio, write a book, and earn a master’s degree in education—all while fitting in extensive travel on three continents.

Her busy resume reflects Lynn’s lifelong drive and ambition to make a difference at age 32, and her time at Northern Arizona University – both in Flagstaff and at distance campuses – has helped her transform this goal into a reality.

An impactful education

Shortly after graduating from the university the first time, Lynn realized she was ready to leave her mark on the world.

“I decided I wasn’t going to wait until I retire to do everything I dreamed of doing,” Lynn says. “I was just going to do it.”

In Flagstaff, Lynn worked in special education for a number of years while getting her first art studio and DL-Couture up and running. Staying in the town where she graduated was an easy decision.

"I loved the small town feel of it and being able to hike whenever I wanted,” Lynn says. “I just loved the nature of Flagstaff and the calmness of the people. Even though I was working on a lot, I never felt rushed.”

In 2009, to expand her businesses, Lynn moved two hours south to the Valley. Through online classes and study at Phoenix distance learning campuses, she completed a Master's of Education in Special Education in 2010--while managing her businesses and traveling to support her nonprofits.

Teaching abroad

Lynn owns DL-Couture, a high fashion company, and Humani Handbags, a line of hand-painted handbags that sends 50 percent of its profits back into humanitarian work. In addition, she runs Threading Hope and Highwire, two companies that provide handcrafted quilts to impoverished children across the world. Lynn performs charity work abroad several times a year, which includes traveling to places like Columbia and Morocco to teach art to children across the world.

“I've always been an addict to learning,” Lynn explains. “For me, travel is education. I learn something new about myself or the world when I'm there.”

For the busy learning addict, Northern Arizona University was a perfect fit for Lynn, who could take classes for her master’s degree online and at Phoenix distance campuses while managing her businesses in the Valley.

“What stood out to me about Northern Arizona University were the smaller class sizes,” Lynn says. “I really loved being in the classroom and getting to know my professors.”

Eyes on the future

In 2013, Lynn released Philanthropic Wanderlust, a book she describes as a “catalogue of the adventure side of humanitarian work.” The book takes readers through Lynn’s trips to places like Haiti and Morocco, and as an author, Lynn is able to share her various life experiences and observations.

“I will never be somebody that does just one thing,” Lynn says. “I have finally come to grips with that. It's okay to run a fashion company that makes silk gowns, but also ride a motorcycle and write a motorcycle magazine.”

Driven to make a difference, Lynn continues to travel, write, and help those in need. In recognition of her achievements, she was nominated for the Governor’s Arts Award and received the Humanitarian Service Award from the First Lady of El Salvador in 2011. Despite these accolades, Lynn has no plans on slowing down.

“I'm one of those people that will shoot for the stars and if I miss, I'm still on a mountaintop,” Lynn says.