Emily Dana was born in Boston and raised in the suburbs of Chicago at Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston. Growing up she went to Camp OSRUI in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where she also served on staff for a number of years. In high school, she was an active member of NFTY Chicago Area Region.
Emily attended Brandeis University where she studied Classics and Judaic studies as well as running the Reform minyan (which should have been considered a major in itself). She also received a minor in religious studies. During her junior year of college, she studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a semester on the Nachshon Project, a program specifically designed to train future Jewish professionals. While in college, she discovered her passion for interfaith work. She got the chance to help run meditation groups, as well as discussions on various religious practices, celebrations, and memorials with active members of the Christian and Muslim communities. They opened her eyes to the need for more communication between people from different backgrounds in our world.
At the end of her junior year, she became the head of a disability rights movement at Brandeis, and she still spends much of her time working to make the Jewish and higher education communities more accessible. The value of social justice, in terms of disability, race, and many other issues, was instilled in her from a very young age; she just put her own spin on it. Her end goal is to go into some form of chaplaincy.