Activists of the Year
Jeffery Johnston Photographs
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St. Charles Avenue magazine is proud to present its Activists of the Year 2012: Herschel Abbot Jr., Dr. Scott Cowen, Dana Hansel, Betsy Nalty, Dottie Reese and Greg Rusovich. By honoring these six locals, we're honoring the gifts of their time, their efforts, and their energies that they have given to our city.
Balancing leadership positions in a wide variety of organizations is a complicated act, but long-time activist Dana Hansel makes it look effortless. She sums up her commitment to bettering the city quite simply: “Those who can, should.”
Hansel’s civic involvement began during her childhood in Monroe. Being the only girl among four brothers, she had an independent spirit. Her ability to multi-task was apparent even as a teenager, when she juggled numerous school activities with academics and graduated as her high school’s valedictorian. Hansel credits her hard-working parents for her drive. “[They] fostered independence, responsibility and ownership,” she notes.
Hansel has been the model of responsibility as a New Orleanian. Amidst a successful 20-year career, including running investor relations at a top-ranked national bank and heading commercial lending at a local bank, her civic engagement never wavered. Even when she launched a consulting company, HBK LLC, nearly two years ago, she remained dedicated to a plethora of efforts, and has chaired numerous fundraisers in the city including “Art In Bloom,” “Soul Revival,” the Saks Fifth Avenue “Key to the Cure” and many more.
In all of her work, Hansel prefers a hands-on approach. “Whether it be through my work as a Sunday school teacher or working with the Young Leadership Council, I love mentoring,” she beams. “I love guiding and working with people to envision a better future and then developing strategies to achieve those goals.”
Through Hansel’s passion for mentoring, she hopes to inspire a new generation of activists in New Orleans. “You’re only going to get out what you put in, and don’t be afraid to go take some risks and try things,” she advises those looking to forge a similar path. Hansel has a “pay it forward” philosophy that reminds her to always be thankful for what she has and to share those things with those less fortunate.
Even though her list of accomplishments is long and growing, Hansel easily pinpoints her proudest moment. “It was when my youngest stepson was giving the address at his high school graduation,” she recalls. “Seeing him grow from a child into a mature, balanced, smart, humorous man was warming inside.” Family has always been Hansel’s priority, and through her activism, she has extended that nurturing attitude to the entire city of New Orleans.
Bridge House, Queen Cochon XIII
Cystic Fibrosis Leadership Award
CityBusiness, Top Women in the Community
Men of Fashion, Prix d’Elegance Award
Young Leadership Council, Role Model and Honorary Role Model
Past and Present Organizations
Art Council of New Orleans, former board member
Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans
Contemporary Arts Center, former board member
Council for a Better Louisiana, graduate of Leadership Louisiana program
Dress for Success, former vice president
Junior League of New Orleans
Katrina Krewe, treasurer
Krewe of Muses, former treasurer and membership co-chair
Louisiana Museum Foundation, president
Louisiana State University Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council
Emeril Lagasse Dinner co-chair and member
Make-A-Wish Foundation, former board member
Metairie Park Country Day, major gifts committee chair
Metropolitan Leadership Forum, graduate
National Small Business Administration Advisory Council
Neighborhood Housing Services, former board member
New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation, board member
New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, former board member
New Orleans Museum of Art Volunteer Committee
Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, former board member
United Way, former board member and United Way Women’s Leadership, board member
Women of the Storm
Women of Trinity Church, president
World Trade Center, former board member
Young Leadership Council, former president