Skip to content
Topics
People

Hanna Switlekowski

Master of Public Administration

2015

“I’ve always been passionate about service, and I’ve ultimately dedicated my career (thus far) to service.”

Related Schools & Departments

Hanna’s Path

Northeastern has without a doubt help shape me to become the leader I am today in my community.

Background

In high school, I was inspired to get involved in politics when Governor Deval Patrick ran for office, and I was selected to be the Town of Sharon’s student representative to his youth inauguration. While I was doing my undergraduate studies at Brandeis University, I was planning to become a Rabbi with Judaic Studies and Politics majors. Then, during my senior year in 2013, I had a life-changing internship experience in Governor Patrick’s office. I interned in the community affairs office, where I saw firsthand how the public and private sector could interact together. I also saw how the Massachusetts interfaith community could be involved in the political world, advocating for bills and partnering with Governor Patrick at events. The horrific events of the Marathon bombing that April also shaped my internship experience, where I saw how crisis management worked and how communities come together.

As I was interning for Governor Patrick, I knew I could see myself working in government, but I still wanted to stay engaged in the Jewish community, so I looked at Public Administration programs. I applied only to two schools, and chose Northeastern almost immediately upon receiving my acceptance. I wanted to be part of the Northeastern community because of their diverse programming and the options of taking electives outside of the Policy School appealed to me. Also seeing that former Governor Dukakis was on the faculty along with other notable policy experts, it felt like a perfect fit. Knowing that I could specialize in state and local government or I could head in the direction of non-profit management was key in my studies. Heading straight from undergraduate into graduate school, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but from the moment of my orientation in August all the way until graduation two years later, my class really bonded and connected.

Her Path at Northeastern

My first semester I did not work full time. I worked in the writing center along with a couple of my classmates as part of having work-study and I taught at a Hebrew School in Newton. During my second semester, my coursework and the beginning of my career took off. In March 2014, I was hired by my State Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton), as his Legislative Aide. What is really amazing about Northeastern is I could work full time on Beacon Hill, and then hop on the green line to Northeastern for classes, since the majority of the coursework is designed for the evening. At times, the courses could be challenging with balancing work during the day, but I loved how so much of what I was studying applied to my job in real life.

From my first course of Public Personnel Administration to my final course in State & Local Governments, there wasn’t a bad course I experienced within the program. I enjoyed having professors, who worked in the field of government or were executive directors of influential non-profits and could serve a resource.

One class that certainly shaped the trajectory of my involvement in the Town of Sharon was Budgeting & Finance. I am not a numbers person by any means, and frankly always struggled with math. Professor Jimenez took practical concepts of how budgets and policies are made, and made the course understandable. We had a group project where we chose different communities to examine their budgets, and my group chose the Town of Sharon. Using our research and findings about the town, I actually applied to be on the Finance Committee. During my interview, I presented some of the issues my group found, such as the lack of transparency on the website to easily find out where tax dollars are spent or how do we stand as community compared to other towns. This course influenced my thinking about my community and how I wanted to help the town. I was appointed to the Town of Sharon’s Finance Committee and served on the committee for nearly five years until my recent election to the Select Board.

Governor Dukakis’s course on Institutional Leadership, helped my memo writing skills tremendously, and it forced my classmates and I think about the type of leaders we wanted to become in life. When I was running for Select Board in the fall of 2019, I was reminded of Governor Dukakis telling our class to make key player lists. These are the lists of people to connect with and to involve in discussions and policymaking decisions. It helped me in organizing my campaign, and creating my list of core supporters.

A Robust Professional Network

My experience at Northeastern, led me to a network of professional connections within the political and civic engagement world. After four years of working for Representative Kafka, I was lucky enough to move over to the Senate in 2018, working as Legislative Director for State Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro). It’s exciting to have gained experience in the Executive Office, the House and the Senate.  

Civic Involvement

When I’m not at the State House, I’m involved and engaged in both the Sharon and the Greater Boston community. I serve as a Community Representative on the Jewish Community Relations Council and I recently was on the Board of Trustees at my synagogue, Temple Beth David of the South Shore.  Before running for local office, I was active with the Young Democrats of MA. In the Sharon community, I built community relationships through my civic engagement, and really focused my campaign logo and mission around “connecting our community.” I went through our town’s Public Safety Academy this past year, where participants learned the ins and outs of our Police and Fire Departments. I have been and continue to be the membership chair of the Sharon Lions Club and an active member of Sharon Celebrates Diversity.  

Since becoming the youngest Select Board member in Sharon’s history this past November, many people have asked me what’s next. I’m not sure what the future will bring for me professionally, but I hope to keep serving my community, making a difference wherever I can and helping Massachusetts move forward.

More Student Paths