UW Major: Political Science
Age: 36 | San Diego, California
Chief Development Officer, Jewish Family Service of San Diego
I credit my experience at Wisconsin for giving me permission to be an idealist,” says Shana Hazan.
The former Chicago public-school teacher is now in California, using her Wisconsin mindset to forge public-private partnerships that strengthen social services and lift people of all generations.
"At the University of Wisconsin, I learned how to dream big, lead with conviction and compassion..."
As the chief development officer for the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Hazan leads multi-million-dollar fundraising, government relations, and public-policy efforts. She’s also designed and launched a range of youth empowerment programs such as kindergarten readiness, service learning for girls, and teen leadership development.
Hazan, who earned her master’s in education and social policy from Northwestern University, thrives on innovation. When she formed the Hunger Advocacy Network in 2011, she helped more than 20 organizations to combine their lobbying power to address root causes of food insecurity and improve the lives of local residents struggling to make ends meet.
As a commissioner for California Children and Families, she plays a key role in providing a statewide system that promotes early learning and quality childcare. Hazan also has the ear of the mayor and the city council as a member of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission. And, as a founding board member of the Friends of Franklin Foundation, she helps to secure critical supplemental funding to support STEM learning at her urban neighborhood elementary school.
Hazan says her UW courses in statistics and public opinion taught her critical thinking, and an influential service learning class inspired her to creatively address inequalities in society. She values her student internships with former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold ’75 and at ABC News in New York and London for giving her unparalleled real-world experience.
“My idealism exists not because Wisconsin gave me a Pollyanna, rose-colored view of the world — quite the opposite, in fact,” Hazan says. “At the University of Wisconsin, I learned how to dream big, lead with conviction and compassion, and do the work to create a more just and equitable world.”
Q& A with Shana
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I graduated from Northwestern with a Master’s in Education and Social Policy, my dad gave me a card with the Aristotle quote: “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” These simple words have provided important guidance to me ever since. I work hard to remain attuned to my strengths and aptitudes, and have, throughout my career, found opportunities to use my talents to be of service to my community and contribute to the greater good.
What are you reading now?
What are you reading now?The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan, and Three Key Years by George HalvorsonWhat five items would you take to a desert island?
- A gratitude diary.
- A pen (I really like Uniball gel pens when I have a lot of handwriting to do).
- An iPad loaded with lots of great nonfiction books and music.
- A hammock.
What advice would you offer to graduating seniors?
Squeeze in as many internships and work experiences as you can before your time at Madison comes to an end. Use these opportunities to figure out what you’re good at, the type of work you find most satisfying, the kind of organization you like working in — and to build relationships with professionals that can offer guidance down the line. Not only will this help you clarify your goals post-graduation, it will also strengthen your resume to help you land the job you seek.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I actually don’t buy into the concept of guilty pleasures. If it’s something you enjoy — be it a frivolous book or television show — there should be nothing guilty about it.
What occupies your free time?
- Spending time outdoors enjoying San Diego’s beautiful year-round weather with my 3-year-old daughter, Sloane, and my husband, Marc Schaefer ’01.
- Serving on the state of California’s Children and Families Commission, on the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission, and as a founding board member of an educational foundation to support my neighborhood public school.
If you could trade places with any person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?The President — at any point in our nation’s history, but especially now.What is your favorite quote?I have two — both from historic Henrys:
- Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. — Henry Ford
- Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. —Henry David Thoreau
Who is your hero? (or who or what inspires you?)
My grandfather, Stanley Foster, is my hero. He was someone with an incredible work ethic — I remember spending many Saturdays with him in his office. He built a series of successful businesses, but never let his success go to his head. He was humble and possessed an ethic of service that drove him to actively engage in work that strengthened his community. He was also profoundly grateful for all his good fortune and had an unmatched ability to make people feel valued and cared for. He has been gone for 15 years, and not a day goes by that I am not guided by his incredible example.
What was your proudest UW achievement OR What was your favorite UW class?
My favorite course was Citizenship, Democracy, and Difference — a seminar taught by Katherine Cramer. The course reinforced my belief in the important role we each play as American citizens, strengthened my sense of civic responsibility, and taught me about the great value of service learning.