Alumni Spotlight: Justin Hanseth, '08

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:10 PM PST

Justin Hanseth, ’08, is a global citizen, excelling professionally and living out the pillars of a Jesuit education.

Justin graduated in 2008 with a BA from Seattle University. Hailing from the Puget Sound area, Justin began working for a local real estate developer while he was a student at Seattle U. Justin always wanted to participate in community service. A mentor in the community gave Justin valuable advice, “If you want to get involved in a cause there is no time like the present. You want to do it when you have the flexibility – in the future, career and family commitments could make it more difficult.”

With that, Justin began researching the cause that was right for him. A friend put him in contact with Deo Niyizonkiza, a survivor of the brutality in Burundi and the mind behind Village Health Works. His background in agriculture and business led to the development of a food security program for Village Health Works.  The program consists of a farm, demonstration garden, seed bank, and curriculum in sustainable agriculture for malnourished families.

Justin did the fundraising, applied for a grant and spent a year in Burundi getting his program off the ground. When Justin arrived in Burundi, he was struck by how such a beautiful landscape had played witness to so much bloodshed. “A lot of people know about Rwanda and the genocide there, but what most don’t know is that it began in Burundi, spilling briefly into Rwanda, and continuing into 2008.”

Justin’s role in Burundi required a lot of research into the local diet and agriculture. After he identified the local needs, Justin needed to develop a local team to manage the project.  “There’s one professor I had at Seattle University, who really prepared me for this role. I took a Leadership and Team Building course taught by Professor Greg Prussia. Professor Prussia emphasized the concept of buy-in and the need for a team to work together collaboratively.  To make an international development project sustainable, you need buy-in from beneficiaries, local government, team members, and partners.  I learned about buy-in and collaboration from Professor Prussia at Seattle U and  have applied them to every project I’ve taken on since graduating undergrad.”

When Justin’s program, began to scale and was more self-sufficient, he handed the reins to the local team, and has watched it grow ever since.  “The program has now grown into something much bigger.”


If you are interested in connecting with alumni who have an interest in the non-profit sector, join us on February 25th for our next SU Advantage networking event which focuses on non-profits and features a brief talk by Dr. Maureen Emerson Feit, Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Program, Institute of Public Service, followed by structured networking.

SU Advantage | Networking Event
February 25, 2014| 6:00 p.m.
Sorrento Hotel