As the assistant director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society, Daniel Kelley goes to work each day to fight online forms of hatred, including anti-Semitism. It’s a step up from his former job in fintech (the financial technology sector), where he felt professionally unfulfilled.
“It’s not enough for me to work hard; I want to feel like I am working hard on behalf of a greater cause,” Kelley said. “When I started working at the ADL, I fell in love with the work. At [the center], I utilize my tech background and my master’s in playwriting to examine the convergence of technology and human, moral [and] ethical concerns, and how to drive narratives around our issues to help create change.”
Kelley recently worked on projects involving transparency in how major social media companies, like Facebook, review content and adhere to their guidelines. He also has helped push the ADL into the realm of online gaming.
“It’s not enough for me to work hard; I want to feel like I am working hard on behalf of a greater cause.”
Although he describes himself as “not terribly practicing,” Kelley said he feels his work at the ADL is a daily expression of his Judaism. “I get to engage in tikkun olam, and do my part for repairing the world in these unique ways,” he said. “I’m also constantly learning about Judaism on the job, as many of my colleagues are practicing in some way or just incredibly knowledgeable to the point where they quote the Talmud seamlessly in meetings.”
Kelley’s plays have also been informed, to some extent, by his Judaism; his most recent work, “The True Phoenix,” spanned the life of Lorenzo Da Ponte, an opera librettist. “I wanted to explore this Jewish man who spent his life constantly reinventing himself, how much his 18th-century world allowed that, and how his journey reflects the struggles of people to redefine themselves in today’s world,” said Kelley.
A Brooklyn native, Kelley grew up in Cobble Hill — his parents were among the brownstone neighborhood’s first families to move there from Manhattan — and currently lives with his wife, Emily, in Bay Ridge.
Hamlet groupie: A self-described “opera nerd,” Kelley blasted opera music instead of rap or hip-hop in his adolescent angst and attended as many productions of “Hamlet” as he could.