Sacramento City Council Member
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
Year Graduated: 2011
Undergraduate: Gonzaga University
Major: International Relations
Steve Hansen had little intention of practicing law when he entered Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Hansen, '11, had five years of public policy work when he started attending McGeorge.
He always wanted to use the law as a tool for social change.
"Lawyers aren't just the ones in a courtroom or at a law firm," Hansen says. "We have lawyers throughout state government and in and around the Legislature doing all sorts of things to keep the state working. I saw myself as part of that process."
Hansen is now working to change his city. He won a Sacramento City Council seat in 2012, winning the election by 173 votes. He represents District 4, which includes the Central City, Land Park and part of South Natomas.
Having a law degree, Hansen says, has sharpened his analytical skills and enabled him to ask more pointed questions about city matters.
"I think that it's helped me the most in being able to navigate a variety of policy issues to ... get to the bottom of what the issues are, whether or not we need to update city law or whether we can make that change without having to make new laws. Do we have the tools? What are they? Can they fix the problem?"
At McGeorge, Hansen focused some of his studies on health law. From 2006 until April 2014, he was a senior regional manager at biotechnology giant Genentech, a job he kept after joining the city council. At Genentech, Hansen advised the company about health policy issues, including how the Affordable Care Act, the new federal health care law, will affect the company.
Hansen has worked in politics and government since graduating from Gonzaga University with a bachelor's degree in international relations. He has worked as an elections observer for the United States in Macedonia in 2002 and the Ukraine in 2006, just after the Orange Revolution. In 2008, he monitored the polls during the presidential election in Florida, working with lawyers to ensure there was no voter intimidation.
In California, Hansen has worked in the state Consumer Services Agency as an executive fellow focusing on environmental, insurance and victim's rights issues. He later joined Equality California, a statewide civil rights group that works for LGBT people, where he worked from 2004 to 2006 as legislative director.
Hansen has served on many boards and committees in Sacramento, including being the neighborhood representative for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership board, the city's redistricting citizen's advisory committee and the Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services. He encourages alumni to apply to serve on boards.
"It's a wonderful way to network, it's a wonderful way to serve the community and to really feel the impact you can make by participating in your own civic environment."
Hansen says he hopes to use his position on the Capital Center Advisory Board to strengthen ties not just with state government, but also with the city.
"McGeorge should have as strong a connection to the city of Sacramento as it does to anyone else," Hansen says. "We have a very vibrant city government, and I hope to build those relationships as well."