2018-01-02 / Spotlight


Don Hahn | Mayor of State College

This month we welcome a new mayor who, as a State College native, Penn Stater and borough resident, cares deeply about our community and understands its unique dynamic. “On one hand, the reality is that Penn State is the economic engine of the community,” Don Hahn says. “At the same time, the community is a huge selling point for the university. Long term, the goal is simply to keep the town a great place to grow up, to get an education, to settle down.”

Hahn has a lot on his agenda, including increased diversity and inclusion, neighborhood preservation and environmental protection, but generally, he just wants to make State College even better. “I remember we were ranked third best college town when I was in college, behind Ithaca, New York, and either Ames or Iowa City, Iowa,” he says. “Knocking off Ithaca may be a tall order, but I certainly want to be better than the Iowa towns.” We caught up with Hahn before he begins his term as mayor on Jan. 2 to see what, besides his family, keeps this leader pushing forward.

“Bradley Avenue is a typical neighborhood street in State College — it has a mix of students and families and symbolizes the coexistence of our town. It’s a place where my wife, Cindy, and I have lived for almost 20 years now. And my stepkids Adam and Lauren grew up there as well.”

“I practiced in our firm’s Bellefonte office for about 25 years. I applied to all sorts of places after my second year of law school, and Jeff Stover was really the only one who would hire me. When you’re a new lawyer, you’re never sure whether you’re doing a good job. But around 2000 I had gotten a certification from the American Board of Certification regarding consumer bankruptcy, and today I’m the only attorney in Centre County that has had that.”

“Mount Nittany is a symbol of the physical beauty of State College and certainly one of the iconic things about State College. The amazing thing is that considering that it’s so close to an urban area that it has been relatively undeveloped. That’s how much the community values the environment.”

“Allen and College is where town and gown meet. It’s not only The Corner Room, which is also iconic, but it’s the Allen Street Gates too. You have a view of Old Main, and down the street there’s the Municipal Building. And it’s not only where town and gown meets, but also where people meet.”

“The Statue of Liberty symbolizes the immigrant roots of the country as well as a commitment toward diversity that is not always perfectly attained. My mom is from North Korea, my dad is from South Korea. At the time, it was a third-world country. They came to America, both of them separately, to get an education. They married and ended up here. It wasn’t a very diverse place, but I think that State College was at least a welcoming place.”

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