Q: Who’s your favorite Founding Father or other American hero? In what ways might you be like them?

Dan: In grade school, we spent a lot of time learning about World War II. I was fascinated by General George Patton and began reading tons of books about him. His mantra was “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” To this day, his mantra serves as my business philosophy – tell people what you want to achieve and they will rise up and surprise you.

Q: What is the strongest national pride you’ve ever felt?

Dan: When I was younger, we took a trip to West Point. Having the opportunity see the future leaders and protectors of our great democracy left me in awe. I’ll never forget that feeling.

Q: What is your favorite American saying or quote? Why does it inspire you?

Dan: “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” – Will Rogers

You can’t change the past. All you can do is move forward and never give up, which really aligns with the story of our nation.

Q: What is a unique viewpoint from your home state that you’re excited to bring to this nationwide project?

Dan: Pennsylvania is where liberty was born, and Philadelphia specifically is where our Founding Fathers crafted the principles of our nation that continue to guide our journey toward a more perfect Union. I’m very excited for Philadelphia to play a special and important role in this commemoration.

Q: What was your first brush with democracy?

Dan: When I was 22, I was elected to be Ward leader in Philadelphia. Soon I received a call from a woman whose husband was in the Navy and needed a piece of medical equipment. There was going to be a lot of red tape. I got it done within the day by working with a congressman of the opposite political party. I received a lot of flack from my counterparts for crossing party lines, but that is not the way I think. I think about getting things done and working together regardless of background or difference in opinion. As we look ahead to 2026, I hope our nation can focus not on what divides us but the common bonds we share as Americans.  

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for America in the next 250 years?

Dan: I hope America can remain the center of freedom and be an example for the world. We need to lead and teach our history in a way that influences our future.

Personally, the education component of America 250 is the most important to me. Today, many young people don’t know much about American history beyond what’s in their textbooks. We need to change that if we are going to continue to grow and move forward as a country.

The Commission has a unique opportunity to bring the country back together. Our country is very divided right now. If there is anything we can do to help us remember what unites us, we must do it.

Daniel M DiLella was designated as the Chairperson of the United States Semiquincentennial Commission in February 2018, following his prior appointment by Congress as one of the Commission’s 16 private citizens. Chairman DiLella is an accomplished business and civic leader both regionally and nationally. As President and CEO of Equus Capital Partners, he has grown the firm into a multifaceted national real estate investment company with more than $4 billion in assets in under management.

To learn more about David and other members of the Commission, click here.