Built it and they came — now let it go

Knowing when to let go — and to whom to let it go — can be an act of leadership.

I titled my 2015 TEDx talk, “Why I drop the mic.” I’ve departed from some roles decisively, sometimes unceremoniously, but always with an eye to the road ahead.

I now drop that mic slowly and pass it with deliberate care.

With the announcement below, I leave behind my longtime position at the University of Washington, where I led a self-sustaining (aka “not publicly funded”) graduate program for thirteen years. I’m grateful that I had the freedom to build what I wanted, with the people I wanted to build it with, to decide when it was over, to handpick the person to succeed me, and to ultimately set the terms of my transition.

Next up? It’s time for the future we create.

The Communication Leadership graduate program is excited to formally announce Dr. Ekin Yasin as the new Director, effective July 2020.

This thoughtful leadership transition has been in the making for two years, and marks an end to the 13-year tenure of Hanson Hosein.

“I first met Ekin in 2015, and quickly recognized her talent for leadership and education,” Hanson said. “Ekin’s rigor, energy and vision are perfectly aligned for these times. I firmly believe that this remarkable leader will guide our learning community from strength to strength.”

Under Hanson’s leadership, Comm Lead grew from a robust but small program to hosting well over one hundred students each year, hailing from all corners of the country and world. The Comm Lead faculty nearly doubled in size, and over half are women. In 2013, Comm Lead introduced a second degree in Communities & Networks, driving the re-visioning to officially launch the name Communication Leadership. Comm Lead launched a storytelling certificate program in 2014, adding to the pipeline of student candidates and growing the program’s reach in the broader community.

For a relatively small program on a large campus, Comm Lead has had an outsized impact.

“This outstanding master’s program has evolved over two decades to become one of the University of Washington’s most highly respected graduate programs, recognized for producing skilled graduates prepared to thrive in the fast-changing communications industry,” wrote UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

“It’s known for its commitment to ethics and integrity as well as for teaching critical engagement and using storytelling to create positive impact,” she continued. “Under the leadership of dedicated, creative professionals, Comm Lead is doing cutting edge work to train the principled communications leaders and professionals our society urgently needs.”

During Hanson’s 13 years as Director, the two terminal Comm Lead degrees graduated 664 students, many of whom went on to leadership roles at top organizations nationally and internationally.

Dr. David Domke, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Communication remarked on Hanson’s tenure, “Hanson is not an academic by trade. He’s an inventor, an entrepreneur, a creator. He took a young professional Master’s program with potential and led it to greatness. He hired well and then collaborated in ways that elevated everyone. He has done something that few have done: lived and thrived at the intersection of a research university and a professional world that requires deliverables yesterday. He has embodied Comm Lead, and we are all fortunate.”

This academic year, Hanson will serve as the program’s Co-Founder, leveraging his network to support Comm Lead outreach, fundraising, and curriculum, along with the launch of a new for-credit certificate. He will also continue his work as the host of the university’s successful “Co-Existing with COVID-19” livestream series and as public convening partner for the UW’s Center for an Informed Public.