Hannah Proffitt-Allee, Program Manager for a Government Affairs Firm
Current City: Portland, OR
Hometown: Annapolis, MD and St. Louis, MO
Graduation year: 2012
Major: Nonprofit Leadership, Social Justice and Religious Studies
What other degrees have you received?
MA in Communication from Drury University in Springfield, MO
Please describe your current work.
My career in state politics began last year at a government affairs firm. We are a small but growing lobbying firm, and I serve as the non-lobbyist on the team to help keep my colleagues and our clients organized in the fast-paced environment that is Oregon politics. On a typical day, I do anything from scheduling appointments for our clients with members of the Oregon State Legislature to serving on task forces and other stakeholder groups to maintaining our bill tracking software and strategizing with colleagues about the political landscape.
What are your future goals?
I struggle with this question in the context of my current position, because I am still settling in to this career shift. However, outside of this position, I am an artist, working mainly with watercolor and ink. I have many goals in this arena to scale up my work to create larger pieces and eventually have a gallery show.
In terms of your professional life, what would you say is your overarching purpose today?
I find purpose in being able to communicate complex ideas in simple and visual ways. Public policy can be complicated, but if I can help to distill policy concepts in a way that helps others better understand what is at stake, then I know I am serving as a unique vessel for the public good. Politics can easily overwhelm people, but often the public just needs to better understand the context of an issue or better understand the behind-the-scenes activities that go into the legislative process. As an artist, I take a similar approach, often creating pieces that are minimalistic.
How did your time at Westminster help you find that purpose?
There were countless courses I took at Westminster that helped me grow my critical-thinking skills, which have been applicable to everything I have done since graduation. Attending a liberal arts college gave me a glimpse into many aspects of our society, and I believe that allows me to have a systemic and holistic perspective when it comes to my career.
Were any relationships you formed at Westminster particularly influential in helping you find clarity of purpose?
My freshman seminar course was with Bob Hansen, and my relationship with him forged in me a deep sense of empathy. Without Bob in my life, I would not have gone to Rwanda and Tanzania to better understand what goes into international NGO work, I very likely would not have worked at Westminster as a fellow in student affairs after I graduated and last but not least, I probably would not have met Courtney Swan, a fellow Westminster alum who shepherded me through my master’s degree and is such a great friend and mentor.
What did you learn about leadership while at Westminster, and how has that translated into your life since graduation?
I had the opportunity to witness ethical, healthy leaders during my time at Westminster through so many faculty and staff members. I believe that a leader’s role is to question everything. Leadership is found in small interpersonal moments when integrity is on the line.
What does success mean to you?
I am only successful if I am growing. Success is not a stationary point on a linear timeline. Our society likes to frame success as having a checklist of achievements, but to what end? I believe that ultimately, it is far more important to be generous with my time, space, talents and love than it is to achieve arbitrary mile markers of success.
What is it about Westminster that makes it the kind of community that empowers students to discover their purpose and find success?
One of the most influential aspects of the Westminster community that I experienced during undergrad happened in the Wellness Center. Having a variety of mental and physical health professionals in the same space is such an important resource for anyone going through college. The support I received from therapists helped me to realize more about myself than any one course could (sorry, profs!).
Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?
I would recommend Westminster to anyone that is interested in learning about the world from all sides and is ready to dive deep.
Favorite Westminster faculty member?
So many favorites to choose from, but I have to go with Bob Hansen. Tied for second are (in no particular order): Carolyn Perry, Wayne Zade, Therese Miller, Cliff Cain, Kate Smart, John Langton, Natasia Sexton, Deb Brenegan, Bill Young and Jamie Haskins.
Favorite spot on campus?
The porch of the old CIVICUS house
Last book you read?
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
Favorite TV show?
Anything that Shonda Rhimes puts her magical energy into
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
I feel so lucky to live within a couple of hours of mountains and the sea, so any chance I get, I explore the stunning natural spaces that Oregon has to offer.