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Home » News » Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Gay Hanna

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Gay Hanna

Published January 9, 2015
Gay Hanna

Dr. Gay Hanna


The Department of Art Education would like to congratulate Doctoral alumna Gay Hanna on her recent recognition on Barry’s Blog as one of 2014’s Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts! Additionally, we would like to recognize Dr. Hanna as a distinguished alumnus for her work with the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA). NCCA is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging, and to developing programs that build upon this understanding ( We asked Dr. Hanna to expound upon her professional experiences and her responses are below.

For the original blog post on Barry’s Blog click here:


What are you passionate about? How did your passion lead you to the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA)?

I am passionate about the arts and the power that they play in everyone’s life. The arts are essential to our ability to understand who we are as people, as a community, and society at large, in local, regional, national and global relationships. The arts feed us as human beings; physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. Additionally, the arts give us both our history as human beings and the future in projecting what we can become.  I am passionate about everyone having opportunities to access the arts at any time and place in their lives, especially in times of crisis and hardship. I believe that the arts are [essential] …to [healing the] mind, body and spirit as a person and as people.

It has been such a privilege to work to bring the arts across the lifespan.  I came to NCCA in a natural career evolution – starting with work in disability and health care through juvenile justice into serving people at the end of life.  Also, as an artist myself, experiencing life in the arts across my lifetime – wanting access to working space. Colleagues in the arts and looking forward to having more time myself to make arts as I can.  So the path has been both personal and professional.

Why did you choose FSU as the institution to further your education?

Really all I was trying to achieve was a teaching certificate in arts education but the high quality of the programs and the new world that opened up to me was beyond my wildest expectations.  I was very blessed to attend FSU and have never felt that I lacked any skills to move my career ahead and met the challenges of radically changing times because of what I learned at FSU through the curriculum of course -yet more so though it was the mentoring of the faculty especially my major professor Dr. Betty Jo Troeger.

We understand that you have already been interviewed for the Departmental Blog, and in that interview you were asked about your goals and hopes for NCCA. Would you like to highlight any that you feel you have already accomplished?

My goals and hope for NCCA is that this organization can leverage the expansion of arts services such as arts education life long.  We rightly focus on k-12 but life certainly goes beyond.  Older people especially have both time and resources to participate in the arts not only as viewers and audience but as creators themselves which is where the restorative value is. Arts services that serve across the lifespan are rare and quality of them is too often poor.

Were your goals always the same? Have they evolved over time?

My goals are always evolving – responding to what are the needs and opportunities to grow the field to what I am experiencing as a person and community member.  Always a key goal for me has been to help remove barriers and encourage opportunities to participation to the arts in whatever way that I can.

You were also asked in the blog post interview what advice you had to give specifically for someone following in your footsteps. For the newsletter, we would like to know what advice would you have for a student, who is working towards their goals and dreams?

First you have chosen a wonderful place to study and grow at FSU.  Take advantage of all the university has to offer – visiting other schools and departments.  I was fortunate to work with Dr. Mary Lou Kuhn at the Center for Arts Administration.  Dr. Kuhn built her work on partnership and parity between all disciplines.  FSU is unique in its interdisciplinary approach and that is key in being successful in today world.  Remember you are in the arts – we bring joy and we bring comfort.  There is no better good news! Work hard and enjoy your time at FSU to the fullest is my best advice.

We thank Dr. Hanna for taking the time to answer our questions and, as always, look forward to hearing more of her accomplishments in the future.