Kimbrough explores tapestry of U.S. history

‘Systemic’ podcast takes unflinching look at race and racism.

Dan Kimbrough ’01
is on a mission to mitigate conflict and foster understanding between people of all walks of life.

His journey in conflict mediation commenced at South Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The school’s mediation program began in his senior year as a way to reduce expulsions, and Kimbrough’s football coach nominated him to participate.

Kimbrough’s high school work in mediation was a significant factor in his decision to attend Manchester because the mediation material he studied in high school was written by Gary Zimmerman, who taught psychology at Manchester from 1970 to 2009.

Kimbrough has fond memories of Manchester, citing the school’s presentation of diverse ideas and critical thinking as tools he continues to use to this day. He also appreciates that Manchester was “not afraid to let students lead.”

“They literally handed me the keys to the radio station when I became station manager and said, ‘All right, it’s all yours!’” he said. “And then two minutes later somebody spilled coffee on the board, so I had to figure that out. That was fun … Manchester really prepared us in the idea that we should be experimenting and figuring out what we wanted to.”

Kimbrough graduated from Manchester in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in communication and psychology. He then went on to earn a Master in Electronic Broadcast Media at Central Michigan University. His education and experiences prepared him to work a large variety of jobs, from his first job as resident director at Syracuse University to currently owning his own media company, Park Multimedia.

Kimbrough uses his skills with media and conflict mediation to promote diversity and understanding. One of the results is “Systemic,” a podcast where Kimbrough explores issues of systemic racism in the United States.

He created the podcast in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd and other race-related issues that occurred that year. “I found myself very angry about what was happening and wanted to do something,” he said. “I had been looking to start my own podcast, so it just seemed the best way to use that negative energy I had and turn it into something a little more positive.”

One episode focused on critical race theory. “In what I’d like to believe is an unbiased approach, it explains what critical race theory actually is and removes a lot of the fluff around it,” Kimbrough said.

Listen to Manchester University Trustee Madalyn Metzger '99 speak with Kimbrough about the Model Minority Myth in this Systemic podcast.

Kimbrough is also an award-winning documentary producer, many of those films examining various inequalities.

His first documentary revolved around Title IX and its effects on the Central Michigan University campus. More recently, he and colleague Melissa Sgroi, Ed.D., co-produced produced documentaries looking at voting rights in Pennsylvania, specifically investigating voter accessibility.

“We went to five locations in our county to see if you could vote if you were in a wheelchair,” he said. “Four out of five of the locations, we found out the answer was no … That actually led to them changing to different voting locations and changing local laws for what accessibility actually means.”

Kimbrough has plans for future documentaries, including one that would look at African American women born before the Civil Rights Act. “These women have seen the world change over time, seen this arc of American history when it comes to race,” he said. “Hearing different stories, learning about different parts of the country and how race relations existed there … the tapestry of American history through that lens is really interesting.”

Through his work, Kimbrough hopes to promote both the acceptance of differences and the celebration of diversity.

“My goal is to try to give voice to the voiceless,” he said. “I hope that the takeaway is that while we all do have differences, there are ways to connect us. If we are willing to listen to each other’s stories, we will find threads that mirror our own stories and that’s how we can begin to come together.”

Carly Greaves, an academic intern in the Office of Strategic Communications, wrote this alumni profile. She was among students in Professor Mary Lahman’s Persuasion course in Spring 2022 who listened to his podcast about Reframing Black History and had the opportunity to speak with him afterward. Lahman ’83 has been granted emeritus status and retired after serving Manchester from 1996 to 2022.