Our Leaders

Mary Kelly Persyn, Ph.D., J.D.
Hanna Institute Director

A teacher and lawyer by training, Mary Kelly is a civil rights, social justice, and children’s advocate at heart. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco and the steering committee of the California Campaign to Counter Childhood Adversity, or 4CA. First a Romantic poetry scholar and teacher, then a criminal defense, civil rights, and appellate lawyer, Mary Kelly strives to embrace human suffering with deep understanding and transform it through hope and joy. Mary Kelly earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and twin daughters.

Nick Dalton
Hanna Institute Assistant Director

Nick Dalton is the Assistant Director of the Hanna Institute and co-chair of the Sonoma County ACEs Connection. Nick has spent decades facilitating leadership development, community organizing, and using the creative and healing arts to empower the self. Nick was an International Ambassador and Teaching Artist for the non-profit Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) for almost a decade, where his work focused primarily on refugee, low-income, and oppressed communities. Before launching the education program at Transcendence Theatre Company in Sonoma, he spent two years in India as director of The Maya Project, a Teach For India initiative revolutionizing the literature curriculum nationwide by incorporating social-emotional wellness learning Aboth teachers and students. Nick is also a certified REIKI Master, cofounder of the arts and healing non-profit collective “heART without borders,” and currently pursuing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Arts with a concentration in Indigenous Resurgence & Decolonial Art. He lives in the Springs of Sonoma with his wife and their son.