Sgt Jen Hannah and her wife Gillian said "I do" and took a different walk than most newlyweds. After marrying on the steps of the NYC Public Library, they strolled to Grand Central Station, a wedding march to the beat of traffic, city noise, and people in a hurry. It's an apt metaphor for Jen, a patrol sergeant who rides the streets of Madison, and Australian Gillian, a flight attendant for Virgin Australia. After meeting on a 13-day tour of Italy as "solo travelers amongst this group of 50", the duo parted ways at the airport. But Jen knew the conversation had to continue. She texted Gillian before either woman caught her flight. On the one-year anniversary of the day they met, Jen and Gillian took their wedding walk.
Sgt Jen Hannah's decision to text Gillian is emblematic of the sergeant herself – she makes pivotal decisions daily as a field supervisor. Jen graduated from UW-Madison and worked for ten years in advertising before she changed careers and joined MPD. Jen spent 5 years as a patrol cop, then 6 years as a detective. But Jen missed being in the field, so she decided to compete for a sergeant slot. At MPD, sergeants oversee significant calls as they unfold. It is a high-stakes job; field sergeants respond to everything from death investigations to shootings, missing persons, child abuse and neglect cases, and fatal vehicle crashes.
Jen recalls that when she put in for sergeant, only 4 of the 44 sergeants were women. "We were really missing an opportunity," Jen reflects, "to have female mentors, role models, supervisors at the patrol level." Since Jen was promoted, six more women have joined the sergeant ranks.
In her free time, Jen likes to kick back with Netflix, read, travel and hang with her beloved yellow Lab, Fenway. The pooch is named after the historic Red Sox stadium, and Jen's love for the Sox is evident. Sgt Hannah's favorite player of all time is Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Jen describes him as a quiet, dedicated leader and consummate teammate who let his work do the talking. "He was one of those people who never sought the spotlight" Jen says. "He understood it was all about the team." The qualities she extols in the famous ball player ring just as true for Jen.