Meet Hannah LeGris, LFUCG’s Arboretum Advisory Board Co-Chair

Meet Hannah LeGris, LFUCG’s Arboretum Advisory Board Co-Chair

Meet Hannah LeGris, LFUCG’s Arboretum Advisory Board Co-Chair

Published on Dec. 20, 2023

Hannah LeGris, the LFUCG co-chair of The Arboretum Advisory Board, is a creative person. For most of her life, that creativity has been expressed through writing. She has been a writing tutor and instructor. She took part in a Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning short story-writing competition and won. A poetry-writing workshop resulted in a published chapbook.

She loved the life of taking time to ponder and work with her students. “Creative writing had always been an important part of my life, but I have had to use a different part of my brain in elective office,” she says. That office is council member, representing Lexington’s Third District on the Urban County Council. The district covers downtown, the University of Kentucky (including The Arboretum), and residential areas south between Tates Creek and Nicholasville Road to New Circle Road.

She was elected in November 2020 and reelected in 2022. She has filed to run again in 2024. Grappling with public policy and finding just the right phrase for a poem are different, she says, but they are a part of who she has been all along. She describes herself as someone who cares deeply about her community, making it better, and listening to people’s stories and their perspectives. “I think it is some of that background that led me toward public service,” she says, “but it’s also the kind of thing that made me interested in creative writing and storytelling and helping young people find their paths, so I see a lot of overlap.”

Hannah grew up near Maysville in rural Mason County. Her mother was an artist and her father worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. After a high school career that included being on the indoor track and field team and a Governor’s Scholar, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English – with a focus on creative writing, book arts and literary theory – from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

Then she came to Lexington and worked at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, where she did several terms of service with AmeriCorps VISTA. She also was a teacher with the Young Women Writers Project at the Carnegie Center and with a creative writing project for incarcerated women.

In 2011, she enrolled in the University of Kentucky and received a Master of Arts in English, where her thesis focused on migration, masculinity and the writer Junot Diaz. After finishing her Master’s, she worked for UK as a recruiter for undergraduate admissions, in admissions and teaching at the Lewis Honors College, and later as a career counselor.

On the Urban County Council, she is working on a variety of issues, including affordable housing, increasing Lexington’s tree canopy, rebuilding downtown’s Phoenix Park, finding ways to make it easier for people to connect with local government, and a “Complete Streets” program to make getting around Lexington “safe, affordable, accessible and dependable for everyone.”

Shortly after being reelected to the Urban County Council in 2022, she left her full-time position at the University of Kentucky. “It was a difficult decision,” she says. “I loved working with students, but I also realized I needed to free up a little space and time.” That space and time, she said, is now filled with working with public policy and constituents, having the time to focus on new projects, and enjoying that rare commodity: spare time. “I love being outside,” she says. “I love walking and hiking. I really love reading. I like spending time with my family, and I love riding my bike.”

She lives in the Mentelle Park neighborhood with her partner Andy Stith and their rescue dog, who is “probably some kind of border collie and something else going on.” In January, Hannah joined The Arboretum Advisory Board, which advises the Chair of the UK Department of Horticulture and the Director of the Arboretum on operations and programs. But she had long been a frequent visitor to run, learn, and enjoy nature. “It’s an exciting time to be on the board during a final fundraising push for the Dorotha Smith Oatts Visitor Center expansion,” she shared. “And it’s been illuminating to learn more about The Arboretum’s staff, the faculty, staff, and students doing research and community members who are longtime Arboretum supporters.”

“I think it’s such a fantastic asset to the community, for volunteers and visitors to learn more about the state, for those who do research, and for people to take classes and connect with each other,” she says.

Contact Information

Molly Davis

500 Alumni Drive Lexington, KY 40503

+1 (859) 257-6955