We bring you a new Runner Bio this week! Danielle Riendau, an amazing newcomer and a member of our Women's Outreach Contact group, gave us a wonderful interview.
Danielle Riendau - SFFR Member and Women's Outreach Contact
How long have you been running with FrontRunners (SF and elsewhere) and what attracted you to the club initially?
Danielle: I’ve been running with the Frontrunners here in SF since June 2012 – right after I moved to the city. This is my very first Frontrunners experience!
Where did you grow up and what brought you to the Bay Area?
Danielle: I’m a New England girl, all the way. I grew up in Rhode Island, and lived in Massachusetts just shy of ten years (basically, college, grad school, and my first few years of professional life) before moving to the west coast. I came here to be with my amazing partner, Teresa, and because I was able to move from my job at the ACLU in Massachusetts to the ACLU in Northern California. I got very, very lucky.
What do you do during your day?
Danielle: By day, I work as the communications coordinator at the ACLU of Northern California – but I’ll talk about that more in the next question.
I also work as a freelance writer for a number of gaming – and queer – publications, most frequently for AfterEllen.com and AfterElton.com, Kill Screen Magazine, G4TV.com, and JoyStiq.com.
Finally – I also teach at Northeastern University (in Boston). Nowadays I usually tag-team with an on-the-ground instructor in Boston, and I design and teach courses in the graduate department of digital media – game design, game production, and digital storytelling. It’s a lot of fun!
You work for such an exciting and impacting group. Can you tell us how you originally got involved with ACLU and where the role/job has taken you?
Danielle: I originally started at the ACLU of Massachusetts in Boston about three years ago, having the great luck to find a cool media job just after finishing my Master’s in Visual Media Arts.
I do a little bit of everything, mainly talking to reporters about our issues/cases, writing blogs and news articles about our work, building web pages and posting incessantly to social media, and creating video content.
When I started at the ACLU, I was really just happy to be working for a progressive organization. As I’ve grown in my role, however, I’ve become even more passionate about activism and in the substantive work we do – particularly in California, around issues such as reproductive freedom, immigration reform, criminal justice reform and LGBT justice. I’m very proud of the work we do, and consider myself incredibly lucky to be a part of it.
Outside of work, what other passions do you have?
Danielle: I’m a gamer and a baby-steps game developer working on a few projects in my own time. I’m prototyping a little puzzle-platformer game right now, and hoping to make something cool out of it!
I also have a passion for screenwriting and filmmaking – my partner and I are editing a feature-length documentary about her time in medical school right now. It’s taking awhile since we’re both busy, but eventually, it’ll get out there!
Finally, I’m a fitness nut (I guess you could call it a hobby or an obsession), and I often supplement my running with generous doses of P90x (I’m trying to take it back from Paul Ryan!), spinning classes, and as much functional movement/lifting as I can. I dream of the day I can start doing triathlons. I also just recently started doing surfing lessons, and I’m in love with that as well.
Are you involved with any other social or athletic clubs in the Bay Area?
Danielle: I like to play dodgeball in the Castro on Friday nights, and take improv comedy classes with Leela Improv. On the entirely social side, I belong to a few gaming-related groups in the bay area.
Before coming to FrontRunners, did you do much running or anything active on a regular routine?
Danielle: Believe it or not, I’ve been running since I was about 7 (it all started with “fun runs” and kids races that were connected to “big races” that my dad ran). My dad is a big inspiration to me as a runner – he was a pretty badass marathoner when I was little (he qualified for and ran Boston a few times back in the day too), so I’ve always trained with him when I was younger.
I ran XC in high school and got really serious about it in college, where I was the captain of my team (don’t get too excited, we were Division III, but hey, we were at least pretty good!). Since college, I’ve really missed having teammates to joke around with on training runs, so finding the Frontrunners has been amazing for me!
You are an awesome member of the Women's Outreach group of our club. Can you tell us what attracted you to the role and how you'd like to see Women's Outreach evolve in the coming months?
Danielle: I think I was very naturally attracted to the role as an extension of the leadership role I had on my college team. Something about sports brings out the inner cheerleader in me (alongside the jockette, of course). I’d really love to help develop a stronger and more committed female presence for the club!
You are an avid gamer. Can you tell us how that passion started and what you've been playing/enjoying lately?
Danielle: I started playing games on the NES when I was about 5 years old – Super Mario (1, 2, 3), Duck Hunt, any Capcom/Konami platformer, you name it - and the obsession has only gotten stronger over the years. When I was young, games were simply fun – and a very social experience (playing with friends, engaging in the middle school equivalent of water cooler talk over strategy, etc.). Now, I often enjoy them as escapist entertainment, a creative hobby (in my own projects that I develop) and I genuinely see games as a fascinating, expressive medium, though you do need to know where to look to find the really good stuff!
As for what I’ve been playing lately, I’ll go with my favorite games of the year so far: Fez, Mass Effect 3, Dear Esther and the games I’ve been playing incessantly on my “I” devices – Osmos and Drop 7. I’m most looking forward to Alexander Bruce’s crazy-looking Antichamber sometime this year as well.
You have an amazing partner. Can you tell us how you two met and how you made your long-distance relationship work out before moving to SF to be together?
Danielle: Get ready for a Very Gay Love Story.
Teresa and I met in Boston, at a club holding “queeraoke night”. I was living there at the time, and she was in her last year of medical school on a very brief rotation at the children’s hospital (so she was only in town for a few weeks). She recognized me from a particularly low-fi web series I used to do on AfterEllen.com (called Retro Reviewing, where a group of friends and I used to review old lesbian movies), and came up to talk to me. We hit it off and started dating soon after.
So: 1. We me during the exceptionally tiny window of time where our paths could have possibly crossed; 2. She liked my dumbass Internet show; and 3. The place we met was called queeraoke. Love at first sight, eat your heart out.
So, at the beginning, our relationship was Utah (where she attended med school) to Boston (where I lived/worked), then she went to San Francisco for her pediatrics residency. We did two full years of Boston-San Francisco long distance (where one of us flew to the opposite coast for a weekend every single month), until I got very, very lucky, and the position at the ACLU NorCal office opened up. I moved out here to be with her in June, and we couldn’t be happier! I think that keeping things together while she was a resident working 80-100 hour weeks and we were 3,000 miles apart was one of the toughest – and most valuable – experiences of my life so far.
Also, we totally prove the “lesbians = uhaul after one month” theory wrong!
What is one of your fondest memories with FrontRunners so far?
Danielle: My absolute favorite memory thus far has to be my first Tuesday night run, running down the embarcadero at sunset with such an awesome, friendly group of people. It was pretty early on in my San Francisco tenure, so the sights and sounds (and even the tourist-dodging!) all added up to an experience that felt surreal and ridiculously fun.
What do you hope to see happen with FrontRunners in the coming weeks/months?
Danielle: Really, I’m just happy to run with other friendly, queer folks who make for great company and conversation. Someday in the future, I’d also like to co-opt some frontrunners into triathlon training as well, if anyone is up for it! Perhaps even a Tough Mudder team for next year. The possibilities are endless!
Thank you so much, Danielle, for an amazing interview!
Stay tuned for more Runner Bios!