2019 Leadership San Jose: Debra Dake-Morrell

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Deb Dake-Morrell is a Supervising Program Administrator for Valley Water, where she leads the best team ever! Deb and her team work with the community to resolve violations of the Ordinance that protects the creeks and waterways of Santa Clara County. A highly sensitive issue, she brings her background in conflict resolution and human relations to the job on a daily basis. Deb’s favorite part of the work she does is the people and the reward of doing her part to return creek-side land to its natural habitat.

With an education in fine arts, Deb teaches an abstract expressionist art class to people who have lost touch with their creative self! The goal of her work in these “Creative Brilliance!” workshops is to get people out of their heads, into their hearts and expressing on canvas. An accomplished artist herself, (Deb has shown work across the US), she finds the greatest satisfaction in watching her students re-kindle that creative spark within themselves. Deb says that in teaching, she puts much more art out into the world than she ever could alone in her studio. She has also created many community art projects for her Spiritual Center (San Jose Center for Spiritual Living), her favorite was working with the teens and creating 10’ graffiti banners with spray paint!

An activist at heart, Deb has received numerous awards and commendations for her work in the community. Prior to working at Valley Water, Deb worked for the County of Santa Clara where she was able to enact social change at the Agency and was able to attain funding for an LGBTQ social worker designated specifically to work with the schools in making them safe for LGBTQ students and families. Deb was a founding member of the South Bay Safe Schools Coalition, Rainbow Network for Community Action and The Network for a Hate-free Community. Deb served on the Human Relations Commission for eight years, serving as the chair for two. During her tenure on the Commission, Deb worked with the Youth Task Force to address the issue of overrepresentation of kids of color in the system and the County’s moratorium on the death penalty.

Deb lives with her wife, 17-year old daughter and Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier in downtown San Jose.