Dana was born in Iowa and grew up in Arizona. He became a Christian through Young Life during high school, a ministry with which he served for five years while attending the University of Arizona. After completing his undergraduate program, Dana started his first mission assignment with the Mennonite Central Committee in Swaziland. Four years later, he moved with his new wife Sibongile to Boston, where he received an MDiv from Harvard University. Dana began his second mission assignment in 2006 and now works with Ripe for Harvest World Outreach, based within the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria, where he leads a support fund which invests financially in ministry research and training across Southern Africa.