New President of FDLTCC Hits the Ground Running

Anita Hanson – New President of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) Is Hitting the Ground Running

Anita Hanson is the new president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC), the nation's only tribal and community college. It is a position she is well-prepared for.

President Anita Hanson at the FDLTCC 2023 graduation. Photo submitted.

She began her career at the college in 1994 and has held many positions over the years. Hanson worked under three previous presidents, who all served as mentors to her. Subsequently, she has a good grasp on the direction she wants the college to go.

“Mostly, I want to increase our visibility,” she said. “The campus is tucked into this beautiful pine forest, so we’re a hidden gem.”

Campus and Legacy

Located in Cloquet and built in the shape of a Thunderbird, FDLTCC is the nation's only combined tribal college and state community college. “We exist because of the dreams and hard work of the Fond du Lac Band, so we want to honor that legacy,” Hanson said. “But our doors are open to all students and our students benefit so much from learning in an inclusive and diverse environment. We are a ‘union of cultures.’”

FDLTCC’s spectacular indoor/outdoor amphitheater. Photo submitted.

In addition to increasing visibility, Hanson has specific goals for her presidency. They include supporting the college’s initiatives around student success, increasing enrollment, looking into new ways to enhance its existing academic programs, and exploring opportunities for new programs.

While Hanson clearly has a handle on her new role, interestingly, she never dreamed of becoming a college president. Her leadership skills were called upon after the death of the previous President, Stephanie Hammitt, and she successfully navigated the college through a difficult time.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be in this position,” she noted. “Our faculty and staff are so dedicated to their work, and they put the needs of the students first.”

Early Life

Hanson was born in Lemoore, California, but her family returned to her parents’ hometown of Cass Lake, Minnesota, when she was in 3rd grade. There, the family resided on the Leech Lake Reservation.

Hanson has a sister and two brothers and grew up participating in many activities. She was in choir and band (she played the trumpet), ran track, and played volleyball, basketball, softball, and golf. Hanson is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, like her mother and maternal grandparents.

When thinking about college, Hanson knew she wanted to play college athletics. She earned a volleyball scholarship from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and graduated with a physical education and health degree.

For her first two years out of college, Hanson worked in the Indian Education Program for the Cass Lake-Bena public school system. It was this position that prompted her desire to attend graduate school.

Hanson then attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD), earning a graduate degree in educational psychology. While at UMD, she also worked as a graduate assistant and an assistant volleyball coach.


In 1994, she was hired at FDLTCC by President Lester Jack Briggs. She started as a part-time faculty counselor and eventually shifted to a full-time counselor position, which also involved working with students with disabilities.

In 2008, she was named Interim Dean of Student Services, making the transition from faculty to administration. After leaving in 2012 to work for disability services at NDSU, she returned to FDLTCC in 2016 as a faculty counselor. In 2018, she was named Dean of Student Services, and in fall 2022, she was promoted to Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management.

Sadly, in mid-November 2022, the College’s president, Stephanie Hammitt, passed away after a short battle with cancer. Hanson was then named acting president.

A national search was launched to find the next president. Hanson applied and was named president in June 2023.

Female faculty, staff, and administrators celebrating the 2022 Commencement at FDLTCC. Photo submitted.

President Hanson wishes to honor those who came before her in everything that she does. “We honor Presidents Hammitt, Briggs, and {Larry} Anderson every day,” she noted. “Personally, they all have had a huge impact on me and my career, and each gave me a variety of leadership opportunities. They instilled in me the importance of keeping our college’s unique mission at the forefront and to continue to promote the language, culture, and history of the Anishinaabeg. I will always remember the work all three did to prioritize our students and lift the work of our dedicated staff and exceptional faculty.”

Anita Hanson and Damien Paulson, Interim VP of Student Services and Enrollment. Photo submitted.

Recently, Hanson was invited to join the Cloquet Economic Development Partnership. She looks forward to exploring additional professional and civic engagements during her presidency.


Hanson enjoys live music, traveling, and riding her Kawasaki motorcycle in her off time. She loves spending time with her friends and family, including her 11 nieces and nephews and her new great-niece.

The last couple of years have been bittersweet for Hanson. She and her sister were fortunate to be able to care for their mother when the pandemic began. Three months ago, her beloved mother passed away after battling health issues for the past year.

Anita Hansen and her precious Nahla. Photo submitted.

Hanson has lived in Duluth for over 20 years and feels that many things make the Twin Ports and our surrounding communities a great place to attend college and/or create a permanent home.

“There is so much to be found in Duluth and the region,” she noted. “Our amazing college is in the middle of a pine forest and is just 20 minutes away from Duluth. I love that our students have convenient access to the Lake, music, hiking trails, cultural activities, and fine foods of the Twin Ports.  I encourage everyone to realize what we have in our region. We live in a beautiful part of the country.”


For young people hoping to find a meaningful profession that they love, Hanson generously offered some helpful advice. “I would say choose a career path that motivates and excites them,” she said.

“If young people are not sure what profession to go into, they could consider taking a course or courses at a two-year college like FDLTCC to get a feel for what college is like and/or explore various disciplines to see what they enjoy.”

She continued, “Use your high school guidance counselors, teachers, or principals for career advice and support. Complete interest inventories. You can take time to understand what your likes and dislikes are before choosing to enter a post-secondary institution.”

“Take advantage of any opportunity you are given to job shadow or visit with professionals in academia or other careers,” she added.  “These are great ways to understand the specific certifications required for a chosen career.”

“Finally, work hard and be a kind and respectful person to everyone in your path. You never know where your education can take you.”


Serving as a college president is a deeply meaningful endeavor for Hanson. “One of the most rewarding things about my job is seeing students achieve goals they’ve set for themselves,” she shared.

“I just love participating in the college’s commencement each year and watching the pride in the faces of our graduates.”

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