My Path To Penn: A Personal and Professional Journey of Growth

March 22, 2021

By Hannah Rawdin, Director of Development at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research

I am honored to write our March blog post; not to speak about the topics my expert colleagues are so deeply committed to, but to share a bit about my journey to the Field Center and joining the ranks of the University of Pennsylvania during the Power of Penn Campaign, committed to three overarching pillars: inclusion, innovation, and impact. I feel so privileged to be surrounded by leaders in the child welfare field and to work within a university setting, producing cutting-edge research in diverse areas to better serve and benefit our local community and those around the world.

I was raised by hard-working parents in suburban Philadelphia who instilled in me a strong work ethic, but even more importantly, the meaning of giving back. My mother is a University of Pennsylvania graduate, who received her Master’s in City Planning and works in the non-profit sector, most notably and early in her career with the Pew Charitable Trusts. My late father was a Princeton graduate and distinguished city planner in Philadelphia. I tragically lost him to brain cancer one month after joining the Field Center in September of 2017.

My philanthropic career began with my first internship during my Master’s program in International Affairs at the New School with a world-renowned non-profit called charity: water. My role focused on corporate partnerships, an area I was always interested in, as it bridged the public and private sectors with a clear philanthropic mission – the accessibility to clean drinking water around the globe.

Soon after my internship concluded, I was fortunate to land a development position with a non-profit called Pencils of Promise, an organization that works across the globe to build schools and create programs around the goal of education for all. It was here I led a group of board members and their families on a trip to Guatemala to witness the building of a school that they funded. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and deeply impacted both my career and decidedly, my commitment to children and their opportunities, safety and well-being. Through this experience, I knew individual giving was my passion and wanted to work directly with those committed to a cause, to help them create a greater impact and propel a mission forward.

In November, 2016, my husband and I moved back to Philadelphia both for his career and to be closer to our families. After a short-term engagement at Vanguard Charitable, during an extremely tumultuous time in my personal life with my father’s illness, I decided to be closer to home and the hospital. I so deeply wanted to find a place and a position I could connect with on a personal level. I had the great fortune of interviewing and joining the Field Center under the leadership of our former Executive Director, Debra Schilling Wolfe, and SP2’s former Associate Dean of Institutional Advancement, Nadina Deigh. I was also so privileged to have the great mentorship of the late Dr. Richard Gelles, my thought partner, collaborator and expert voice. His loss is felt deeply among our community.

The Field Center is so fortunate to have the leadership and support of The School of Social Policy & Practice’s Dean Sally Bachman, Managing Faculty Director Dr. Johanna Greeson, my incredible mentor and leader Kristen De Paor who leads Institutional Advancement at SP2, as well as each of our phenomenal faculty directors and staff members leading the charge with great focus, intent and expertise.

I feel so deeply fulfilled working at Penn and to be serving as the Director of Development at the Field Center, working with the brightest minds day in and day out committed to the safety and well-being of children and young adults. I love working closely with our Advisory Board and advancing this critical cause. If this last year has proven anything, it is that the foundation of this University is ever so strong, and in the face of an unprecedented storm, we weather it and remain dedicated to our work and our mission.

With gratitude, humility and warm wishes,


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