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I was born in Memphis, Tenn., October 21, 1981 to Lewis “Lou” Hansen and Valerie Hansen. I was the first of three kids. My parents raised me, my brother Brooks, and my sister Charise in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Memphis. My dad worked several jobs when we were growing up to help my family survive. For example, he managed a barbecue joint in Bartlett, he cut grass on the weekend, and he sold insurance. My mom stayed at home when we were young and then became a teacher’s assistant when we started school at Sherwood Elementary. All of my friends loved my parents. To the guys, my dad was the cool man who coached our sports teams. At school, all my friends would remark how pretty my mom was and how helpful she was in the classroom. At the time, I rolled my eyes. “Ew, parents,” right? Those kids were right. My parents were the best.

Our family lived a lower-middle class life in Memphis, where went to Audubon Park Baptist Church, spent a lot of time with family, played sports (mostly basketball and baseball), and worked hard. We spent a lot of time at Lake Enid in northern Mississippi (where my grandparents had a trailer) and in the Ozarks (where my great-grandparents lived). Looking back, those were my happy places.

I moved to Birmingham in 2008 in advance of starting grad school at the University of Alabama. I quickly made a lot of new friends, got a job at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, got involved in the community — and haven’t looked back. I have made some of the best friends I have ever had in Alabama who make me laugh, keep me on my toes, and are never afraid to embark on an adventure (no matter how absurd).

Today, I’m the executive director of a nonprofit health advocacy organization based in Birmingham. I live in Irondale, Ala., near the gorgeous Cahaba River. I have two dogs: a rambunctious French Bulldog (Vandy) and a terrier mix (Bueller), who I rescued from the Blount County Humane Society. I have two nephews, Lane (5) and Oz (1), and they’re the cutest boys on the planet.

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