Dean is a former middle school teacher with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Midwestern State University and an M.A. in International Affairs from American University's School of International Service. As a theatre teacher, Dean sought to teach his students the power of stories to advocate for people. These efforts included a charity production of "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" by Celeste Raspanti which raised $500 for the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. His social justice role models are Sister Helen Prejean and bell hooks.