James Dao, Williamsville SOUTH High School, Class of 1975
James Dao has been the deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times since February 2016. He oversees the Op-Ed department, which has editors, writers and columnists in New York, Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and Washington producing the daily Op-Ed report, the Sunday Review, the international Op-Ed section and a variety of online features. In 2017, the section won The Times’s first ever Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, for a graphic-journalism series by Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan about Syrian refugees titled “Welcome to the New World.”
Mr. Dao was born and raised in Williamsville, the son of Thomas, who was director of the breast cancer department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Patricia, a former nurse. At Williamsville South, he captained the varsity soccer team, co-edited the yearbook and played cello in the orchestra. After graduating in 1975, he attended Yale, where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in American history.
Immediately following college, Mr. Dao joined a start-up organization, the New York Chinatown History Project, where he was a staff writer and researcher. The organization eventually became the Museum of the Chinese in America. In 1984, he began his career in journalism, working for small newspapers in New Jersey before moving to the New York Daily News, where he spent a year investigating the smuggling of impoverished Chinese immigrants to America.
In 1992, he joined The Times as a metropolitan reporter, first covering city politics and transportation before moving to the Albany statehouse bureau, where he became bureau chief. In 1998, he joined the Washington bureau, where his beats included Congress during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the presidential campaign of 2000, the Pentagon and the State Department. In 2003, he embedded with American Special Operations Forces during the invasion of Iraq. He went on to serve as a national correspondent, military correspondent, deputy metropolitan editor and deputy national editor.
In 2010 and 2011, he spent several months in northern Afghanistan to produce an eight-part series about the yearlong deployment of an Army battalion, titled “A Year at War.”The series won numerous awards for multi-media journalism, including an Emmy.
Mr. Dao is married to his college sweetheart, Helen, and they have three children.