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HANNAH Burnett


Company: The University of Vermont Foundation
Title: Assistant Director of Annual Giving for Academic Health Sciences
Age: 29

Favorite Part of Job? I love the storytelling that is central to my job in annual giving. I spend a lot of time listening to alumni, patients, healthcare providers, and community members, getting to know who they are, what they value, and about their connection to UVM. I also have the opportunity to share stories about the incredible research, compassionate care, and innovative education happening in academic health sciences, making connections and sharing information. So much of storytelling is about building community, which I find to be a very interesting and fulfilling part of my work.

Most Inspiring Mentor: One of my elementary school teachers, Barb Kelco, who was one of my teachers and who, one day in fifth grade, took me out to lunch to talk about why I wasn’t raising my hand in class, even when I knew the answer. She helped me to take pride in my knowledge and my abilities, and to not be afraid of being uncertain or having a diverging opinion. She taught me that there was no shame in speaking up, and modeled what it looked like to be a confident woman in an academic/professional setting, lessons I still carry with me today.

Tell us something fun about yourself that few people know: I have had a surprising number of unexpected encounters with public figures, including giving Bruce Springsteen a campus tour, eating pizza with Johnny Knoxville, and sharing a couch with Madeleine Albright, but I’ve never seen Bernie Sanders in person despite living and working in Burlington!

Favorite Vermont Escape: Savage Hart Farm, which is a sheep farm owned by family friends in Hartford, VT. Savage Hart has exquisite views, perfectly positioned Adirondack chairs, sweet lambs in the spring, and wonderful people; it’s a perfect place to take a deep breath.

Favorite Downtime Activity: Walking in the woods with my husband Peter and our dog Harvey and finding a nice lookout or spot on the water’s edge for a picnic and a Vermont beer. Weather not permitting, I love to bake, especially using Joanne Chang's recipes from Flour Bakery.

Favorite Super Hero: I am admittedly not well-versed in the world of superheroes, and a quick internet search both overwhelmed me and revealed a burgeoning field of personality analysis based on the answer to this question. I’d say a female superhero who can teleport, because I think popular culture could use more female superheroes, and if I could choose a superhuman ability, it would be teleporting!

Favorite Social Media: I’m trying to use social media less across the board, but my favorite platform is Instagram. I love taking photos, getting updates from friends and family following accounts that showcase beautiful places and beautiful food!

Person you would like to share a Vermont beverage with: Marshall Ganz, who is known for his successful work in grassroots organizing and his public narrative model which uses storytelling to turn values in action. I’ve studied and been inspired by his work throughout the years and would love the chance to be able to ask him questions and learn more about his experience and his perspective on civic engagement and grassroots organizing in our rapidly changing world.

What is the best career advice you have received? It’s helpful to network and talk to lots of different people when seeking out career advice, but that each person is coming with their own experience and own agenda, so listen, ask questions, but at the end, check back in and see what feels right to you. Don’t let others blindly guide your career because it worked for them, or they have more degrees, or years of experience; your gut can be a really important guide.

Where do you see yourself professionally in ten years? I see myself working to advance social justice and making a positive impact on our community, to still be actively learning and growing as professional in a job that is intellectually challenging and emotionally rewarding, and to be paying it forward as a mentor and community volunteer. In ten years, I hope to have a broader and deeper understanding of Vermont’s social needs and business landscape, and to be seen as both a leader and a respected resource in our community.

What motivated you to live and work in Vermont? Ever since I was a little kid and my grandfather (a Vermonter himself) told me that in Vermont the skunks don’t smell and the bugs don’t bite, it’s held a special place in my heart, and attending Middlebury College only added to that. Despite learning that the bugs do in fact bite, moving to Vermont was part of a decision to seek out more balance, more fresh air, a stronger sense of community, and to find work that felt fulfilling in a place I love.

Career Highlights: After graduating from Middlebury, I served as a Princeton in Africa Fellow at mothers2mothers in South Africa, where I helped develop curriculum and conduct training for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This work included a pilot project in Lesotho using cell phones to follow up with clients regarding infant HIV testing and supporting the documentation and transfer of the mothers2mothers model to the Kenyan Ministry of Health for scale-up across the country. Following my year long fellowship I participated in Global Health Corps, a fellowship program committed to engaging young leaders in the movement for global health equity. During this fellowship I served as Development and Communications Manager at Last Mile Health, a community health worker organization in rural Liberia, building communications and development strategies and tripling revenue in one year. I then spent a few years working in undergraduate admissions while working towards my MBA from Northeastern University, with a focus in marketing and entrepreneurship. Since moving back to Vermont in 2015, I have served as the Assistant Director of Annual Giving for Academic Health Sciences at the UVM Foundation, garnering annual support for the Larner College of Medicine and UVM Medical Center through direct marketing and alumni engagement.

Community Involvement: I currently serve as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Janet S. Munt Family Room, a parent-child center located the Old North End of Burlington that provides low-barrier programs, education, and evidence-based wraparound services to help families with young children thrive. I am also currently a participant in Leadership Champlain, a year-long program committed to developing collaborative leaders who have an increased understanding of our community’s needs and challenges. I serve on the Middlebury College Alumni Association board as a National Chair of the Alumni Admissions Program. In addition, I am a long standing volunteer for Middlebury’s Alumni Admissions Program and am a lead Class Agent, working with the Advancement Office to encourage classmates to include Middlebury in their philanthropic priorities.



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