Dale Davis' distinguished career as a writer, educator, publisher, scholar, producer, dramaturge, and advocate for young people began as one of the founding poets of New York State Poets In The Schools. As a publisher she established The Sigma Foundation, a limited edition, private press with Dr. James Sibley Watson, Jr., avant-garde filmmaker and publisher and editor of The Dial magazine, the leading modernist journal of arts and letters. The Sigma Foundation published the work of Margaret Anderson, Mina Loy, and Djuna Barnes. The Sigma Foundation's books are in many permanent collections, including The Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Library, Yale University and The Collection of American Women at Smith College.
In 1979, she founded The New York State Literary Center (NYSLC) https://www.nyslc.org/ where she continues to serve as Executive Director. Writers, editors, and artists who have worked with Dale Davis as integral contributors to NYSLC's programs included Homero Aridjis, William Bronk, Kenneth Burke, Robert Creeley, Malcolm Cowley, Robert Fitzgerald, Kamilah Forbes, Jonathan Galassi, Hugh Kenner, Ted Kooser, James Laughlin, Ruth Maleczech, Emir Rodriguez Monegal, Octavio Paz, William Stafford, Carrie Mae Weems, and Eliot Weinberger. Davis' belief in all young people expanded NYSLC's programs to reach students at the highest risk for educational failure. Today NYSLC serves those incarcerated, educators, and children whose parents are incarcerated through resources, information, and research that promote education, rehabilitation, community engagement, and rebuilding families impacted by incarceration.
NYSLC has published over 600 books of writing by young people, 30 children's books by incarcerated youth, and has produced thirty CDs. Davis has written 15 hip hop theater pieces adapted from the writing of those in NYSLC's programs that have been performed in high schools across New York State, nationally in juvenile justice facilities and in correctional facilities. A NYSLC program was featured at the William Carlos Williams Centennial at the Harvard Club in New York for the Modern Language Association Convention. NYSLC's programs have been the subject of articles in New York Magazine and The New York Times and honored and nationally recognized by The President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, The Center for Disease Control National AIDS Clearinghouse, the American Council on The Arts, The National Alternative Education Association, The National Dropout Prevention Association, the Annenberg School of Communication, Arts In Criminal Justice, and a documentary by Columbia University's EdLab. Davis' work with young people in the juvenile justice system in St. Louis was the subject of a Fox News Documentary. She was invited to participate in Harvard University's Institute on The Arts and Civic Dialogue, established by playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith. In 2014, she received the Andrew P. Meloni Award from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for dedication and commitment to improve the education of those incarcerated through NYSLC's arts, education, and rehabilitation programs.
NYSLC collaborated with an on line service for journalists to inform the public about children's' issues. The service's website cited NYSLC as an example of the type of project for youth at-risk that was promoted by The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Students' writing was featured on the website, both as a hook for journalists and as an example of how to write a story. Her installations, combining the writing of young people and her own photographs, have been exhibited in several prominent venues. Davis' work was featured in a cover story in Leadership, published by the Points of Light Foundation, and was the subject of "Fighting The Streets with Art and Literature" in Education New York.
Dale Davis has lectured and conducted teacher education programs in Juneau, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii, Portland, Seattle, the Mississippi Delta, and throughout the country. As a recognized expert on Youth Culture, she served as a consultant to The Children's Dignity Project ABC Network. She has presented papers on her work with young people at state and national conferences. Davis was a member of College Board's National Task Force on the Arts In Education, and she chaired a panel on employing arts learning with underserved populations to foster cultural understanding and unleash students' creativity to prepare students to tackle today's pressing issues at the College Board's National Forum, Education and The American Future. She served as a panelist for Massachusetts Council's first Creative Teaching Fellowships Program. She served as both an Education Panelist and Literature Panelist for The New York State Council on The Arts.
In 1998, Dale Davis was one of the founders of Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) https://www.teachingartists.com/. the oldest organization serving Teaching Artists in the country. She was a former Board President of ATA and served as ATA's first Executive Director from 2006 - 2018. In 2002 she initiated ATA's Distinguished Service to the Field Award, the 1st award in NYS in the arts education field. In 2011 she was one of conveners and the administrator of the first National Teaching Artists Forum in New York City. In 2012 she initiated ATA's Teaching Artist Appreciation Week to celebrate the work of individual Teaching Artists. In 2018 she created the monthly ATA Digest. In 2019 she was presented with the Association of Teaching Artists' Distinguished Service to the Field Award.
Having long been interested in the relationship between an artist's work and an artist practice as an educator, in 2018 Davis founded the Artist as Educator https://www.theartistaseducator.com/
a space to gather, explore, and share the meeting points of the arts and education, a space to step back and reflect upon artists as educators and their contributions to education, to communities, and to culture.
Dale Davis writing has appeared in publications from The Iowa Review to Op-Ed page of The New York Times. Publications include chapters in Unseen Cinema and Classics In The Classroom. She is presently working on a book on the evolving role of the artist in education.