CHICAGO, IL (February 3, 2016) — Seattle Pacific University has named Covenanter Tim Hanstad as their 2016 Alumnus of the Year.
Hanstad is co-founder and senior advisor of Landesa, a Seattle-based nonprofit working in more 50 countries to secure land rights for the world’s rural poor. With an emphasis on empowering women, Landesa works to help families escape poverty, increase economic activity, and strengthen food security.
“Through Landesa’s partnerships, farmers can improve their harvests and gain a long-term interest in the health of their land, women can inherit property not poverty, and governments can build the soft infrastructure for prosperity and peace,” Hanstad told the school’s alumni magazine.
Growing up near Mt. Vernon, Washington, Hanstad attended Bethany Covenant Church. His interest in international issues of development and social justice first began as he and his eight siblings spent their childhood summers planting and harvesting alongside persevering migrant workers. Some of those migrant workers were the hardest working people in his community and yet they lived in vehicles, never owning their own land.
After hearing a sermon on the Good Samaritan in high school, Hanstad’s dedication to justice issues was heightened and he began a course of study at SPU reflecting that passion.
“There is often so much focus on the afterlife—‘How do I get to heaven?’ ” he said. “Jesus brings it back to a discussion of ‘What can you do here on earth?’ What do you do to help in really practical terms?”
After graduating magna cum laude from SPU with degrees in political science and history, he attended the University of Washington’s law school on a full-ride scholarship. While there, he worked as a research assistant to land reform expert Roy Prosterman, together creating the infrastructure that eventually became Landesa.
Hanstad and his wife, Chitra, are members of Emerald City Bible Fellowship, a multicultural Covenant congregation in the Rainier Valley of Seattle. Hanstad teaches Sunday school and, along with his wife and four children, have hosted weekly dinners for youth in their home.
“Chitra and I hope we can in some way inspire and speak into kids’ lives who are thinking about reaching across boundaries to help others in maybe nontraditional ways,” Hanstaid said. “Mine is just one path to serving the needs around us.”