Kate Hanson is an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire. She is also the co-founder and program chairperson of the unique, award-winning associate degree program in Community Leadership (CoLead) which is offered at both the Durham and Manchester campuses. This program prepares students to assume leadership roles in their communities, nonprofit organizations and other areas. By combining a theoretical foundation in community organizing, group process, organizational structure and political activism with service-learning and other community outreach efforts, the program provides students with a wide array of learning challenges and opportunities for real world application. Students recently won the state-wide Social Entrepreneurial Student Leadership Challenge for their work in creating the Warmth from the Millyard project, a collaboration among businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations and the University to heighten awareness about poverty in Manchester, NH, while providing warm clothing to those in need. This project, along with two others, has also been showcased at the National Service-Learning conference. For more information about the program, please feel free to contact Kate or to check out their Website: http://www.thompsonschool.unh.edu/colead/
The CoLead Program is a natural extension of Kate’s other work as a consultant to organizations, a volunteer coordinator and a community activist. Over the years, Kate has worked with dozens of organizations, from small nonprofits to large corporations, to assist them with supervisory development, strategic planning and improved communication. She has also helped organize and train volunteers/docents as both a teacher and manager. Since she has volunteered at countless events and for many organizations, she recognizes from both perspectives why effective volunteer supervision matters.
At the heart of all Kate’s work is her passionate belief and commitment to civic engagement and community activism as inherent demands of a successful democracy and a decent world. As she wrote in a recent essay:
A number of years ago, I was asked to speak with a group of emerging leaders from Russia about my work with the Community Leadership Program. At first, as I explained what we did, I saw nothing but blank stares. However, when I asked them to describe their ideas of community service, I learned why they seemed so puzzled. Under their former government, there was no sense of community service or individual efficacy. If there was a problem in their building, street, or community, they were supposed to wait for the “authorities” to fix it. They came to our country to learn how to promote citizen involvement and empowerment. I am honored that I come from a long history of community activism, both historically and from my own family legacies, and proud of what I contribute daily to UNH, my local community and beyond. I take my responsibility as a citizen very seriously and I believe that I try every day to meet the challenges of engagement and social justice.