Picture of Hanna Mast, a white woman wearing glasses and an orange sweater
Meet our Director of Communications

04.02.24

Q&A with Hanna Mast

We are delighted to announce the promotion of Hanna Mast from Senior Communications Manager to Director of Communications! A Pennsylvania native, Hanna worked previously for Moveable Feast and Project PLASE prior to joining us as Development Writer in 2016. In this role she helped raise millions of dollars through private grants, direct mail appeals and event materials. She moved into Communications two years later, where, as a supervisor and project management expert, she continued to contribute to our fundraising success while also creating short films and videos, growing our social media presence, and supporting client and staff education, initiatives, events and advocacy. We don’t know how we would have made it through the pandemic without her Comms leadership! She, her partner Drew and their pup Zola are avid globetrotters and proud to call Baltimore home. Get to know more about her work in the Q&A below.


What has kept you at Health care for the homeless for the past seven years?

Our approach to ending homelessness through direct care and policy change drew me to Health Care for the Homeless initially. And the people—clients and coworkers—keep me here.

People who work here are passionate, smart, funny, collaborative and strategic. And there is a real culture of humility, empathy and growth. Through Communications, I get to work across departments and support so many different elements of the work. It’s never boring and there’s always more to learn!

What is your favorite thing you get to work on in Communications?

Oh picking favorites (of anything) is hard for me! But I feel especially connected when I get to work with clients on ways to share who they are and what is important to them. Hearing the details of someone’s life experiences is a privilege—and having a hand in sharing those stories with authenticity, respect and dignity is a real responsibility. Whether it’s a Pass the Mic column or one of our annual documentaries, a highlight of my work is having someone say: “This is how I wanted my story to be told.”

What do you want staff to know about the role Communications can play in their work?

So many things. Primarily that we’re here to support your communications efforts. You can lean on us for an extra set of eyes and perspective; whether that’s developing a new hand-out, tightening up an athena campaign, promoting a client support group, boosting attendance at a staff activity or sharing some good news from your department with the rest of the agency. Senior Communications Specialist Rebecca Ritter and I really enjoy learning about staff projects and brainstorming the best messaging, audience and channels to meet your goals.

I also want to make sure that the information we share with staff and the resources on the staff portal help you in your work. I welcome and encourage your feedback. Find yourself wishing that you had more templates at your fingertips? Is an existing hand-out or material prompting more questions than answers? Really think the agency should be updating staff on x,y,z? Let us know!

How have you reshaped Communications to further the agency’s goal of becoming an anti-racist organization?

Alongside my Development and Equity & Engagement colleagues, I’ve helped to pursue a significant shift in our storytelling approach. This has meant:

  • Writing more explicitly about the role of racism in homelessness and providing more context for the systems that actively work to deny clients housing and health care.
  • More deeply centering the strengths, agency, humanity and joys of those featured in our newsletters, e-news, website and videos.
  • Making room for clients and staff to lead the narrative. This has meant letting go of some control, becoming more attuned to the power and biases I (and other writers on staff) have and grappling with more nuance—which ultimately makes for more authentic and compelling stories. Check out our Day in the Life and Pass the Mic features!
  • Paying clients for the time and expertise they lend to Communications efforts! I’m so proud that the agency committed to a new Client Compensation policy this past fall.
  • Thoughtfully pushing back on harmful framing or stereotypes about homelessness that come up in media stories that feature interviews with staff or clients.

As a team, we’re more attuned to representation in graphics, images and the voices that get a platform—as well as the accessibility of our content. We’ve always looked at reading level, but now we also include captions in videos and alt text consistently across channels.

We’re also paying close attention to the print, design, photography and videography companies we contract with and support with our budget. Before adding this layer of intentionality, I can tell you that we primarily contracted with white and male-led vendors and hadn’t considered asking about their company’s approach to racial equity.

Our agency-wide commitment to becoming anti-racist has made me re-think many facets of Communications. That’s not to say that we’ve made it. If anything, I see more and more ways we must continue to self-reflect on our role, seek education and welcome more people into the work.

What are your goals for the department in 2024?

The past few years of COVID have required a lot of crisis communication to keep both staff and clients aware of rapid changes to services, hours and safety precautions. This year, like the rest of the agency, I’m hoping we can recalibrate, focusing on better tools and ways to support staff and clients.

A few examples include:

  • Recruitment support through a series of short staff videos that give a window into what it’s like to work here
  • Adding TVs to the 2nd floor of 421 Fallsway to provide more health education and clinic updates to clients while they wait for appointments
  • Participating in two clinical operations workgroups that will 1) re-envision our intake process and 2) launch a full range of patient portal features and self-check-in options.
  • Aligning the stories we tell with division priorities (stay tuned for a Day in the Life feature at one of our new shelter-based care clinics later this year!)
  • Getting our own department guidelines up-to-date—from style guides to training video how-tos

I also can't wait to share our 2024 original documentary Taking Care: Portraits from Baltimore, produced in partnership with NIA JUNE. As the details come together, we’ll be sure to share more information about a premiere this year—and hope to see a big Health Care for the Homeless community turnout.

What helps you find balance or joy outside of work?

I grew up on a farm in rural PA, so I always gravitate towards green spaces in the city! Walks with my dog through Druid Park, gardening in my back yard and backpacking/camping in the US and abroad bring me joy. I also have a bit of a competitive streak. I love puzzles, board games, cards…and have been playing backgammon weekly with my partner Drew for almost a decade.

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We are delighted to announce the promotion of Hanna Mast from Senior Communications Manager to Director of Communications. Get to know more about her work in the Q&A below!

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