By Kristine Hansen | Photography by Hillary Schave
Everything Diane Hanson does is guided by her Christian faith. “I was born a peacemaker. I always knew that about myself,” says the former chaplain. “I really feel that my faith is what led me to start United Madison.”
As the founder of United Madison, an organization she founded in 2016 to bring the community together on issues by providing awareness and working towards a goal of solving problems, her faith remains a strong part. But this faith is not overtly part of the organization, more like a part of her personality that quietly teaches a foundation of love and respect.
“I truly believe if we listen to each other with the goal of understanding, we can solve problems. I also believe God has given me the gift of being a person who is a ‘bridge’ and I want to use this in the world,” she says.
Each year United Madison chooses a cause to focus on and support, and in 2022, it was human trafficking. In partnership with the Collaboration Project, Hanson put together a half-day educational event last April featuring local human trafficking experts who discussed the issue and advocacy efforts. A trafficking survivor also shared her story.
“Our goal was to educate the community,” says Hanson about that event. “We try to bring awareness to issues and nonprofits.”
In 2023 she’ll expand her work with a monthly video and audio podcast, titled “Dose of Unity,”
as a means to respect and attempt to understand viewpoints other than one’s own, without discussing politics. The goal is to attract not just Madison listeners, but a nationwide audience.
“We will invite guests to weigh in on topics, cover the different angles, and then take a look at how to consider it through the lens of character, truth and values,” says Hanson, “… not engage in bashing anyone’s beliefs or opinions, but instead encourage open dialogue. What we are doing is pioneering because we are providing clarity, truth and awareness that has no ulterior motive. We are working to do the right thing.”
This podcast also represents a turning point. “We’re not a Christian organization, but ‘Dose of Unity’ will be the first time we’re talking about faith — but not preachy or judge-y,” says Hanson. “Each podcast will wrap up with how listeners can help. Each end goal will be focused on how this awareness can translate to change and problem solving. We need all perspectives to solve problems.”
How do you summon confidence before a challenging project or task?
“First and foremost, I pray for God to lead me according to HIS will. That gives me so much confidence that I am trying to do the right thing. In addition, I tell myself to ‘walk through the fear’ and remember [that the] people I am dealing with are just people. I also try to remember that not everyone will like me or agree with my approach, and I am [getting] OK with that.”