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Meet Human Ecology’s May 2023 commencement flag bearer

Hannah Reynolds poses in front of a red-ombre back drop at the All in All Rise Symposium in Chicago.

Story by Maddie Kranz x’24, UW–Madison student studying Community & Nonprofit Leadership and Art History

Hannah Reynolds ’23 shares her experience inside and out of the classroom.

Student. Fundraiser. Cancer advocate. Philanthropist. During her time at UW–Madison, Hannah Reynolds has filled these roles and more. As a Community & Nonprofit Leadership major (now called Community & Organizational Development), Hannah spends her time working with a number of nonprofits across the United States, but her love for nonprofit work did not begin with her entrance to college.

During her junior year of high school, Hannah participated in a fundraising challenge with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society called Student Visionaries of the Year. She networked with local businesses to set up fundraising events and made many personal asks.

“I lost my father to leukemia in 2020, but he was diagnosed in 2010,” Hannah says. “He was still alive at that time [during the fundraising challenge], so it was a really special way to honor him, his story, and our family’s story.”

“Seeing how all the staff from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society loved what they were doing and were so motivated about making a difference… I really felt like the nonprofit space would be where I want to go with my career.”

Being in this program has also given Hannah the skills to approach any situation. She values that the program focuses on teaching the right mindset needed to approach serious situations professionals often face in nonprofit fundraising.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to have learned how to be a good person, in a way,” Hannah says. “I think that our major gives us the skills necessary to go into situations that we’re going to be working on with an open mindset about how to treat vulnerable communities.”

Because of her deep commitment to the nonprofit sector, Hannah has worked with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the 4W Initiative, and Give 30A. In March, she traveled to Nicaragua with Give 30A to build a farm at a children’s home. Give 30A spoke with the community to determine what they needed most, and the community expressed their desire to help provide food security for the children in the area who struggle to afford meals. Hannah worked with local Nicaraguans to plant fruit trees and develop an irrigation system for a farm.

Hannah Reynolds holds two large plants while working on a farm in Nicaragua.
Hannah Reynolds in Nicaragua planting fruit trees.

Hannah also emphasized the cultural barriers she was able to cross in Nicaragua. Because 30A and the group of individuals she traveled with have established relationships with the communities they serve, most of the time is spent continuing to cultivate these relationships. 

Two days after arriving back in Madison, Hannah traveled to Chicago for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s 2023 symposium, titled “All In, All Rise”. She was connected to the conference through Human Ecology Teaching Faculty Lori DiPrete Brown, who is the director of the 4W Women and Wellbeing Initiative at UW–Madison. Martha Taylor, UW–Madison alumna and leader in women’s philanthropy, along with the 4W Initiative sponsored Hannah’s conference trip.

The conference gave Hannah the opportunity to connect with fellow female philanthropists and deepen her understanding of both what it means to give and how to be intentional with her giving.

One of her breakout sessions discussed giving circles and how to bring people into a cause, and on the second day, the keynote speaker was former Secretary of the Treasury Rosie Rios. Secretary Rios was and continues to be an advocate for female representation on currency, which is part of a national conversation about the representation of women in government and positions of power. 

“Collectively, we can give and do more together. It’s really hard to see yourself accomplishing things when you’re not represented,” Hannah says.

For the May 2023 commencement, Hannah was selected as the Human Ecology flag bearer in recognition of her numerous accomplishments both in the classroom and in the community. Initially, Hannah was confused as to why she was selected for this honor, but the panel of faculty that nominated her informed her that it was because of her hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others. 

“I try not to do the things that I do for recognition,” Hannah says. “I just do them because I genuinely want to, so seeing that people knew what I was doing… it was just kind of shocking to me.”

Hannah Reynolds and her boyfriend smile on top of a mountain. More mountains and blue skies with fluffy clouds are in the background.
Hannah Reynolds and her boyfriend Drew Doyle exploring the world together.

After graduation, Hannah has every intention of continuing to work with the nonprofits that mean the most to her. She currently works in a temporary role as a Campaign Specialist for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and hopes to transition into a permanent role. Reflecting on her time in the Community & Nonprofit Leadership program, Hannah is eager to thank the Human Ecology professors and staff for all of their support.

“The School of Human Ecology (SoHE) is truly a special place,” Hannah says. “SoHE makes the campus feel like such a small, personalized experience, which is something I always searched for when I was looking into colleges. Everyone in this school really cares about each other, which I think is lost in some other parts of life. I’m glad that my education has an overall theme of caring for each other.”

Commencement will take place on May 13, 2023 at noon.