Senior Policy Analyst, Deb Hansen, Retires

on Nov 26, 2014 in Blog by
Enjoy your well-earned retirement, Deb!

Enjoy your well-earned retirement, Deb!

This month the team at West Wind Education Policy is proudly celebrating the career of our own Deb Hansen. It has been an honor for all of us to share the capstone years of her career. During the past four years, Deb has lent her wisdom and experience to West Wind: she has been an expert adviser on an array of education policy issues; a guide to new employees entering the field; and a knowledgeable, passionate, and considerate colleague to all of us.

Her dedication and quest to understand new developments, grow her own knowledge, and challenge her own ideas have changed the way we work at West Wind. Deb understands and appreciates how hard deep inquiry can be and she approaches projects carefully and with consideration. Yet, even in the face of difficult change, she never lowers her standards. Her poise, determination, and empathy make her an invaluable colleague and a great friend to have in your corner.

Deb began her education career as a classroom teacher in Illinois. She then began working with two of Iowa’s area education agencies as a consultant specializing in early childhood special education before beginning a 21 year career with the Iowa Department of Education. At IDE her work focused on developing and supporting state-wide systems and processes to improve the professional growth of educators. She was co-author of the groundbreaking Iowa Professional Development Model. Through the programs she helped develop and implement she has had a major impact on America’s educators.

Her work focused on building teacher and school leader capacity in order to ensure improved student achievement. She advocates for an unrelenting focus on student learning, adequate time and resources for high quality professional development for all educators, distributed leadership, and the intentional involvement of teachers in the professional development process. Deb approaches every project with these principles as her guides.

During her career, the programs Deb worked to develop had both local and national impact. These are only a very few highlights of the projects and boards Deb lent her expertise:

  • Deb’s most recent work supported and trained districts in eight Iowa Area Education Agencies to prepare applications for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System grants—all with an eye toward how the systems would be implemented if a grant were awarded.
  • Deb has worked extensively to apply implementation science to education initiatives. She presented her work at the Global Implementation Conference and advised state education agencies, technical assistance providers, and others on ways to use implementation science.
  • She supported the Council of Chief State School Officers with the State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness.
  • Deb co-authored the Iowa Professional Development Model, a statewide professional development system for all levels of educators. The model is used in Iowa and has become a national resource for professional developers, administrators, teacher leaders, and practitioners.
  • Deb was part of the work to develop the Iowa Core Content Standards.
  • In 2008 Deb was awarded the State of Iowa Governor’s Dome Award for Excellence, presented to state employees for exemplary service.
  • From 2007-2008 she was a member of the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality Advisory Board.

This list of accomplishments reflects an admirable career and we are honored to have worked with such an astute professional. What it may not reveal is what a joy Deb is to have as a colleague. Whether it was the yoga lessons she offered at our staff retreats, the cards she sent to each of us on our birthdays, or the probing questions she asked during project meetings, we always knew that Deb cared deeply about us as individuals and about our work as a team.

We invite you to share your memories of working with Deb. Please leave comments below.


  • Bonnie Riggan says:

    Working with Deb has been such a privilege. She has been a stellar role model for me. Among the many things I admire is Deb’s consistent effort to listen to what others are saying and then thoughtfully engaging in ways that move everyone and the work at hand forward…and she often manages to add a bit of fun or humor while she’s at it. I will miss you, Deb, as a colleague and am so happy to count you as a friend! See you soon!

  • Circe Stumbo says:

    I first encountered Deb’s work when organizing a Summer Institute for the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2004. Iowa’s Professional Development Model (IPDM) was the premier action by a state education agency at the time — and it remains the most impressive body of work around teacher professional development in the nation. The focus, energy, and attention to research that Deb put into co-authoring the IPDM has proven invaluable.

    What a thrill it was to have Deb join our West Wind team in 2010! She brought deep knowledge and insight to her work and a caring and jovial spirit to the team. We always loved hearing her stories about her husband David’s shenanigans!

    As excited as I am for Deb to embark on her retirement plans (which include volunteering at Head Start and as a docent at the Des Moines Art Center, traveling the state, nation, and the world, and constantly learning new information and mastering new skills), I will miss her tremendously. The only comfort I take is knowing that she is but a phone call away.

  • Mandi Bozarth says:

    I can honestly say that what I have learned from Deb I could not have learned from anyone else. Her knowledge and expertise helped orient me to my work at West Wind and she has been an ongoing guide to me. But I also learned a lot about art, herbs, politics, dancing, and life. My kids call her the “fun lady who likes kids, dances with us, and lets us draw pictures.” That’s Deb for me.

    Deb, I look forward to learning from you in the future.

  • Alecia Brooks says:

    Deb, your contributions are impressive! I remember most your knack for inquiry. This shined during your work with the State Consortium for Educator Effectiveness. You always thought deeply on how SCEE can effectively communicate and meet the needs of state education staff. Because of your leadership, we added such practical information to the SCEE site. Your articles continue to receive views from members in search of education workforce info. Although your career is focused in professional development, I can say from experience that you hold a deep knowledge about education in general. We sincerely appreciate your dedication to educator effectiveness.

    Here’s a great quote just for you: Work doesn’t end here. Your new job is to ensure that you enjoy being retired, with flexible hours and relaxation. Congrats! Keep in touch.

  • Bonnie Boothroy says:

    I had the privilege of learning from and with Deb for many years as we worked on multiple projects. Deb was a valued thought partner, coach and friend – someone I always wanted in the room. A leader of substantive work, she understood how to engage groups in the deep thinking and heavy lifting necessary to create a quality product. A skilled and respected collaborator, Deb listened, probed, learned and contributed. She honored commitments and was a fully engaged participant who held high expectations for herself and others. When a group was tempted to take the path of least resistance, Deb courageously served as our conscience, holding us accountable to principles of learning theory and our espoused group beliefs. And somehow, she managed to do all of this with a sense of humor!

    Deb, congratulations! With your insatiable appetite for learning and travel, I know you’ll live retirement life to the fullest. If you and David ever need to get out on the water, you know where to come!

  • Tina Zhao says:

    “The fun has arrived~!” is sung by all when Deb steps through the door. There is definitely never a dull moment when working with Deb. She can bolster spirits just by being within proximity… or at least that’s what I think. :) Deb is the ultimate package: talented, brilliant, professional, and a great friend. Congratulations Deb! I hope your amazing infectious energy takes you on many enjoyable adventures to come.

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