Ready to Rock
Hollywood producer takes helm of UM Alumni Association
Early on Dany Garcia, B.B.A. ’92, showed a knack for artful negotiation. To persuade her varsity crew coach to let her go to a Merrill Lynch job interview in lieu of practice, the budding businesswoman promised to buy the team a boat. Not only did the unusual offer work, Garcia landed the job and embarked on a long-term relationship with her alma mater.
She and former husband Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, B.G.S. ’95, went on to make major gifts to the Newman Alumni Center as well as the Athletic Department. An ex-officio member of the University’s Board of Trustees, Garcia says her tenure, including the audit, finance, investment, and medical affairs committees, gives her “the education and deep understanding of the University, how it works, the challenges and the goals.”
Now she’s parlaying that knowledge into her next leading roles: president of the University of Miami Alumni Association and vice chair of UM’s next major fundraising campaign.
Garcia, who has worked in sports entertainment, television, and motion pictures (14 to date), keeps a schedule in Hollywood that would make anyone’s head spin. A typical day involves reviewing scripts, tracking and managing media projects, and overseeing “Team Rock.” On this day she’s making sure the movie star has everything he needs, down to the appropriate chef and gym, during the New Orleans filming of GI Joe: Retaliation, as well as looking into publishers for his second autobiography.
Dwayne Johnson, B.G.S. ’95, and Dany Garcia, B.B.A. ’92, during commencement in 2009
She credits a great team and a can-do spirit for her multitude of successes. “You cannot divorce your husband and manage him and even live next door to him [people warned]—but that’s what we do,” she insists. “And I am totally happy.” A big part of her joy comes from their 10-year-old daughter, Simone.
A savvy entrepreneur, Garcia finds time to invest in start-ups, and her philanthropic streak includes running The Beacon Experience, which gives mentoring and other support to at-risk students, kindergarten through high school, and then pays their college tuition.
As UM Alumni Association president for 2011-13, she hopes to keep building on the “amazing work” and “incredible momentum” of executive director Donna A. Arbide, M.B.A. ’95, and prior association leaders, along with colleagues Patrick Barron, B.B.A. ’75, immediate past president, and John E. Calles, A.B. ’89, J.D. ’92, president-elect.
Garcia is particularly eager to announce the association’s first online interactive annual report because she knows from personal experience how important it is to make sure that “everyone is feeling connected to the University and knows what we are doing.” She admits that after her career took off—first with her wealth management company, JDM Partners, and then The Garcia Companies, her media management firm—despite her “tremendous love for the University,” she didn’t visit campus for years.
“Donna Arbide reached out, re-engaged me, and brought me back,” she recalls. “In a short amount of time, I was feeling the U again.”