116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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If you happen to be one of the many people who follows Shannon Hanson on social media, you know she uses the platforms to spread positive, life-affirming reminders.
But it's not just for social media. Hanson brings her candor and positive attitude to her professional life and as a community advocate.
Hanson currently serves as the vice president of marketing and communications at United Way of East Central Iowa. It's a role she took over seven years ago and she said she relishes the tasks it has put before.
'I'm very lucky to be right- and left-brained, so I can be creative but also put processes into place,” she said.
'That is what this role needed when I walked in the door.”
Hanson reorganized the marketing department and made several hires to get United Way headed in a direction to meet its marketing and overall organizational goals.
Over the past several years, Hanson and her team worked to embrace the national brand of United Way and incorporate it into the local chapter of the organization.
'I got to help put the right people in place and work with them toward a shared vision. And I have loved leading a team that really gets the brand management piece so that when people look at something they know it's from United Way,” she said.
'Of course, being in charge of people is the hardest and most rewarding thing ever.”
Hanson started her career at 26 working as a child care center director and said that experience proves to be invaluable to this day.
'I had 60 people working under me in that role and I learned so much in that position,” she said.
'It helped me learn how to adapt to working with any personality on a team. I learned what works and what doesn't.”
She said she also had the opportunity to connect with mentors over the course of her career, including Kathy Lamb and Anne King.
It's a gift she's been glad to pay forward, particularly in the past few years.
'I have been able to mentor people not only in our office but through United Way nationwide,” she said, noting that she worked with a marketing professional in St. Joseph, Mo., who was new to her job right out of college.
'It was really a lot of fun and I am so lucky that I get to give that back.”
Next month, Hanson will step away from her role at United Way.
'I am thinking of starting my own business that focuses on client and customer relationships and building. I have loved finding a way to say thank you to our donors over the year, and I'd like to do some of that for small businesses because they often don't have the extra resources to dedicate to having someone do that in house,” she said.
Hanson's years at United Way were the longest she's spent in one position, but the timing just feels right to move on, she said.
'I have met as many challenges as I think I can in this role,” Hanson said. 'I want to step back and take on new challenges because that's how I am built.”
No matter what the professional role, Hanson will still continue to be an active part of the community.
'One thing I learned at a very early age was to give back to the community that gives so much to you,” she said.
She recalled volunteering with her parents at the July Fourth celebration in Bonaparte, Iowa, her hometown, when she was six or seven years old.
'I am really proud to say that I am the first female chair of the NewBo City Market board,” Hanson said.
She also serves on the Leadership for Five Seasons Advisory Board, but couldn't even begin to list all of the ways she's volunteered in the community over the years.
'I have really settled down into what I want to focus on so I can give it all my attention and really make an impact,” she said of her current volunteer roles.
'It's such a rewarding experience to see what you can do and how you can make a difference when you aren't getting paid to do it,” she added.
'I tell people thinking about getting involved that if you are thinking about helping and it gives you energy, then you should do it. And you don't have to wait to be asked.”
Business 380 spotlights some of HER Magazine's Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.