Student Spotlight: Hannah Larson (MPA 2023)

What motivated you to attend Wagner, a school of public service?

My friend, Manuela, and I had been working had been working as election canvasser first in Phoenix, Arizona for the 2020 General Election followed by Atlanta, Georgia for the 2020 Georgia Senate Runoff Election. One day, after we had assisted a whole family in filling out and sealing their ballots, Manuela turned to me and said “you are a natural leader and a great canvassing partner.” Walking towards her next door, she yelled “I would rally everyone to door knock for you in a heartbeat.” While I may never run for public office, Manuela’s words paired with the conversations with hundreds of voters pushed me to send in an application to NYU Wagner. I wanted to gain more tools in achieving the policy recommendations voters had shared with me and I wanted to be able to support emerging leaders in community organizing just as Manuela had done for me.

You are chair of NYU Wagner’s Wagner Womxn (WW) student group, an organization that engages networks for women and gender-expansive people. What are the benefits of getting involved with WW? Any past events / initiatives that you’re proud of, or future activities that you’re looking forward to?

Womxn and non-binary people are workers and administrators, writers and creatives, activists and leaders, educators and parents, patients and prisoners. The womxn’s movement is a massive intersectional coalition that is living and working in our communities around the world. Wagner Womxn is meant to be an extension and continuation of this community of activism that works on a range of issues that directly affect women and gender-expansive people. We aim to be a space of partnership and solidarity on a variety of issues, from mass incarceration and climate justice to disparities in healthcare, while centering the leadership of womxn and gender-expansive people. Wagner Womxn was proud to co-sponsor the Spook the Patriarchy: Witches, Womxn Healers and Abortion event this last Halloween with NYU Repro. We had Dr. Griselda Rodriguez-Solomon from the Brujas of Brooklyn speak to students and community members about the history of exclusion and demonization of witches and womxn healers that continues to inform our understanding of bodily autonomy in modern America. Bluestocking Cooperative, a queer, sex-worker owned bookstore in the Lower East Side, provided the space for our event for free, as well as free NARCAN training to Wagner attendees. We are in the process of working with Bluestocking Cooperative for a continued learning around the topic of bodily autonomy for a Sync with Your Cycle workshop in March 2023!

Capstone started this academic year, can you tell us a bit about your client and what excites you about this project?

My capstone team and I are working with CDP, an international organization formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. We are working with CDP to clean, code, and create data visualizations to map state and corporate disclosures related to landscape jurisdictional approaches (LAJA) to deforestation. This is the first time that CDP has worked with this dataset related to global LAJA deforestation initiatives and we have the opportunity to create a process that can be used for years by CDP to incentivize corporations and states to work collaboratively to protect our forests. It has been exciting to put classes related to storytelling and data visualization into practice!

Reflecting on your experience at Wagner, what skills or lessons from grad school are you taking into the next chapter of your career?

Leadership as transformation is one lesson that I have learned from professors and mentors at NYU Wagner. As I move beyond Wagner, I will seek opportunities that allow me to use my skills and training to redistribute resources, support the leadership development of communities, and advance lasting, structural change for our world.