Outstanding Alumni Award
Author-Illustrator and Public Speaker
The written word in is Don Tate’s blood. The nephew of Eleanora E. Tate, a former journalist at the Des Moines Register and Tribune, and Iowa Bystander, and children’s author, Eleanora inspired Don to pursue a literary career.
Calling Eleanora “the inspiration of my own career as a book creator,” Don began his literary journey on DMACC Ankeny Campus, where he earned an AA in Commercial Arts and Advertising in 1984. His journey at DMACC was nothing short of incredible as, in addition to taking classes, he had sole custody of his baby daughter, born just days after he graduated from high school. Reflecting on that time, Don remembers the challenges, but also speaks fondly of the way he was supported by his instructors and fellow students.
From those humble beginnings, Don has developed an international reputation as an award-winning author, and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children.
In addition to winning dozens of awards for his work, Don is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf – a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, with book reviews, and author and illustrator interviews.
Don is also a member and supporter of the We Need Diverse Books initiative, a non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. He frequently speaks at schools, public libraries and writing conferences, and participates in book festivals.
An amazing ambassador for the value of a DMACC education, Don is a deserving winner of a 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award. He adds that award to the Student of the Year Award he received more than 30 years ago, earning him a special distinction as both a Student and Alumni honoree that we are not sure any other of the thousands upon thousands of students who have attended DMACC over the years can claim.