Headshot of Heather Hanna

Heather Hanna PhD

Assistant Research Professor and Director, Systems Change Lab
PhD, Public Policy and Administration, Mississippi State University M.S., Sociology, Mississippi State University
Dr. Hanna is an Assistant Research Professor and Research Fellow for the Social Science Research Center (SSRC), where she directs the Systems Change Lab (SCL). During her time at the SSRC, Dr. Hanna has written, administered, and collaborated on grant projects addressing public policy and system change at the intersections of health, education, and the environment. Currently, she serves as Co-Principal Investigator on a Health Resources & Services Administration-funded project that is a joint project of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the SSRC at Mississippi State University. The 5-year, $17.5M Mississippi Thrive project is designed to examine and strengthen the developmental health system for young children in Mississippi, ranging from developmental health promotion, to screening, referral, and treatment. Previously, Dr. Hanna served as Co-Director for Mississippi KIDS COUNT, an Annie E. Casey-funded program that provides policy-relevant data, statistics and original research about the health, education, and overall well-being of Mississippi’s children. In this role, she partnered with the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi to conduct education, outreach, and research on census participation in the state and served on the governor’s 2020 Census Complete Count Committee as the Education Subcommittee Chairperson. Dr. Hanna also served as Principal Investigator for the Assessing Employee Attitudes and Beliefs toward the Strategic Habitat Conservation Model Project, which was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and utilized an all-employee survey to examine bureaucratic systems change at the national level. She has worked with the Family and Children’s Research Unit at the SSRC, focusing on policy and systems change related to education and health services for Mississippi’s children and families. These projects have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Center for Mississippi Health Policy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. Dr. Hanna earned a PhD in public policy and administration and a MS in sociology from Mississippi State University (MSU). She received her undergraduate training in psychology at the University of Mississippi. She is a member of the American Society for Public Administration and was formerly named a Founders’ Forum Fellow.

Dr. Hanna's work is supported in part by MAFES.