Introducing Hena Vadher ’13

For what grades did you attend MPA?
K-12 (“lifer!”)

Why did you choose to pursue a position on the Alumni Association Board?
To promote an equity/justice-based lens in a place that served a formative role in my growth

In what ways do you see yourself as a supporter of MPA and its mission?
A critical assessor of, and huge advocate for, the ways MPA supports all of its students to learn, grow, and succeed on their own terms.

What are you currently doing, professionally and/or personally?
I am a reader, poor and injury-prone runner, and aspiring generalist. Outside of how I enjoy living, I was recently working in disaster relief program implementation for New York City over 8 million residents with the American Red Cross as a disaster Response Manager. I oversaw the program, which included cash and sheltering support, for clients displaced due to disaster.

How did you get to where you are in your career? Did you attend college and if so, where? Are there some career moves or other key experiences or relationships that have inspired you?
I studied International and Area Studies at Washington University in St. Louis interested in pursuing a humanitarian career, inspired by my time interning with UNHCR—the UN’s Refugee Agency—in Geneva, Switzerland. After graduating, I was lucky to learn and grow at Breakthrough Twin Cities in St. Paul before relocating to New York City and eventually beginning my role with the American Red Cross.

How did your MPA experience prepare you for your life today? How did MPA help you dream big and do right?
MPA prepared me to ask questions, prioritizing critical reflection on what and how to ask. I don’t—and can’t—know everything. But, feeling comfortable asking questions and demonstrating vulnerability in that respect goes a long way in better understanding your context (both in personal and professional spheres) and discerning a path toward “doing right.”

What’s next? Any aspirations – personal or professional – that you’d like to share?
I’m currently thinking quite a bit about how I enjoy engaging with my career and am putting intention toward growing in analytic and written communication skills.

What do you to see happen during your time on the Alumni Association Board?
As always, I hope to continue to learn and grow–and support the same for a formative community in my life.

Please share your favorite MPA story.
Thirteen years is a long time for “favorites.” But, I’m so proud to tell stories about how my school encouraged political engagement and thought. I’ll never forget Ms. Conway cancelling our Constitutional Law class the day the Minnesota House voted on whether to legalize gay marriage, asking us all to be present for history at the Capital. That day, she prioritized that sometimes learning comes from living. After the House passed the measure she explained, “In five years, there will be teenagers who won’t remember a time when they couldn’t marry the person they love.” Unforgettable.

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