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Hasan  Davis

Hasan Davis

Author, Actor, Advocate & #HopeDealer

Hasan Davis

Author, Actor, Advocate & #HopeDealer


Hasan Davis is a Hope Dealer. After an arrest at 11 that landed him on probation for the remainder of his childhood, Hasan entered alternative school in the 8th grade. He was expelled from alternative school his Senior year. After earning his GED Hasan attended Berea College, in Kentucky. Continuing his lifelong battle with ADHD and Dyslexia Hasan was expelled from Berea, twice. He returned a third time, determined to prove that failure would not be his legacy. Hasan earned his B.A. in Oral Communications (focus on Directing and Performance) from Berea College and his Doctor of Law (J.D.) from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Hasan has been a teaching artist, a touring artist, and a living history Chautauqua Actor/Scholar. He is a founding board member of Kentuckians for the Arts, former Chair and Executive Committee member for Alternate R.O.O.T.S. He has researched, written, and produced three Chautauqua Living History programs and has performed more than 700 shows in 37 states.

In 2016 Hasan wrote his first book, Written Off: How One Man’s Journey Through disability, delinquency, and poverty is transforming The Juvenile Justice System. In 2019 he completed his first children’s book, The Journey of York, Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 2022 Hasan completed two book projects, his first full volume of collected poetry, Human Writes, and the long-awaited Epic Graphic Poem The race.

Hasan has been recognized for his professional and personal efforts in serving the needs of promising populations experiencing disconnection and disenfranchisement. Through his work in education, juvenile justice, and the arts Hasan has worked hard to center Hope and relational health in service systems. He is a

  • Rockefeller Foundation, Next Generation Leadership Fellow,
  • Council of State Governments, Henry Toll Fellow,
  • Education Trust, Family Education fellow,
  • South Arts Traditional Artist Fellow, and an
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children and Family Fellow.

In 2008 Hasan joined the executive leadership team of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice as Deputy Commissioner of Operation. In 2012 Hasan became Kentucky’s fifth Commissioner of Juvenile Justice. During his tenure, Hasan insured that youth in the system had access to creative outlets from Mural projects to Shakespeare Behind Bars. More importantly, he was instrumental in moving Juvenile Justice reform in Kentucky. Senate Bill 200, which enacted sweeping youth service systems reform, was signed into Law in April of 2014, and is now transforming Kentucky’s juvenile justice and other youth-serving systems.

For more than 30 years Hasan has inspired and motivated youth and adult audiences across the nation and around the world, weaving his personal journey of transformation from Hasan Davis, Juvenile Delinquent to Hasan Davis, Juris Doctor. He uses humor and honesty to show those like him, who have experienced adversity and challenges that they still have power and the ability to find their next success. Hasan is a passionate advocate for the infusion of H.O.P.E. (humanity, Optimism, Perspective, and empathy) into the work of building or rebuilding our communities.

Hasan is also in high demand as a keynote speaker, trainer, coach, and consultant to local, state, and national organizations. Hasan takes pride in his ability to get individuals and teams fired up and excited about the important work they do each day, as Hope Dealers, in the service of youth, adults and families. He currently lives in Paint Lick, Kentucky with his wife and two adult sons.

Speaker Videos

A Conversation with Hasan Davis: York, Equity, Race and the Lewis and Clark Story

Vermont Youth Summit Keynote Presentation with Hasan Davis (5/28/20)

Hasan Davis Relations Segment FULL

Hasan Davis - uncut

Hasan Davis | Dropping Back In | KET

Hasan Davis Relations Segment FULL

Hasan Davis Black History Live 2012

Speech Topics

Away from No Way: A Transformational Journey from J.D. to J.D.

Hasan Davis shares his journey through the education, justice, and social service systems. Systems that, more often than not, failed to provide him the support he needed to be successful. Luckily on his journey, there were within each system outliers and resisters, whom Hasan affectionately calls “hope dealers”, who found a way to engage, encourage and empower him. With their support he was able to transcend his mounting list of “failures” and become a champion for youth. Hasan believes that each person in the community has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to influence and change the way youth encounter the education, justice, and social service systems. Hasan will share the simple strategies his personal champions employed to help him make the JD shuffle from Hasan Davis Juvenile Delinquent to Hasan Davis Juris Doctor.

They (We) Can't Do This Alone: Calling all Hope Dealers

Hasan shares his journey, navigating a childhood marked with tragedy and triumph, Heartbreak and Heroism, cries and courageous screams, Hasan barely held on to hope. Experiencing learning disabilities, multiple school placements on the rollercoaster of poverty, Hasan was adjudicated a delinquent youth offender at age 11 and sentenced to probation for the rest of his childhood.
Although there were many who failed or simply refused to provide him the support he needed to be successful, Hasan was fortunate to find that on his journey there were, all around him, Hope dealers, outliers, and resisters, like his Mother and you, who made it their mission to engage, encourage, and empower him with grit, resilience and the skills that might give him the courage to dream BIGGER. With their support, Hasan transcended his mounting list of “failures” to become an advocate for himself and eventually a champion for others facing adversity. Let Hasan introduce you to some of his Hope Dealers. Along the way, he will reveal to you some of the amazing strategies they employed to help him complete the “JD shuffle” and go from Hasan Davis, Juvenile Delinquent to Hasan Davis, Juris Doctor. Hasan will show you the true power of one. One teacher, one coach, one counselor… One Hope Dealer, to dramatically alter the trajectory of a falling soul.

Come ready to laugh, cry, scream, or shout… but, don't let go!

Not WOKE, Just Awake: Black History Alive

Engage your institution/staff/team in a one-of-a-kind experience and conversation that centers Dignity, Belonging and mattering.

Hasan Davis Brings History Alive. For more than 25 years Hasan has transformed audiences with the story of African Americans at pivotal moments in our nation’s history

  • While the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition is synonymous with American Adventure, one member of the historic team stood out from the rest. Little know, even today, York, was the Corps. Of Discovery's only black member.
  • When a Civil War consumed our nation Angus Augustus Burleigh escaped enslavement at the age of 16 to reclaim his freedom and take up the rifle as a United States Colored Trooper (U.S.C.T),
  • While an entire nation held its collective breath, Joe Louis, The Brown Bomber battled Adolph Hitlers professed Uber man, Max Smelling. Thus marking America's first unofficial battle of what would eventually become World War II.

Explore the triumph and the tragedy, the courage, and the compromise of America's growing pains with a 40 minute fully interpreted introduction to one of these historical characters. Once the audience has been drawn into the significant times and events shaping our young nation, they then can engage with Hasan more directly, exploring the events and stories behind the presentation. This Q&A session allows for a deeper dive into the history, the development of the program and Hasan's own journey to this diverse portfolio of work.

In his more than 25 years of interpretation Hasan has performed over 700 shows across the nation, from theaters to churches, auditoriums to classrooms, at conferences, universities, corporate offices, and national parks. During the national bicentennial commemoration of the Lewis and Clark expedition Hasan was invited by the national parks and the department of the Interior to ensure that York was prominently represented figure as our nation looked back two hundred years to reflect on that pivotal moment and the indelible impact that diverse team of adventures had on the growth and trajectory of our young nation.

Breaking Gravity: Embracing Hope & The Decision to Persist in the Face of Loss, Adversity & Failure

Gravity is the single most powerful force in the known universe. And every day most of us wake up an without real consideration, actively resist the great force in the known universe. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actively chose our next action.

Years before becoming a hope dealer for others, Hasan had to find the courage and the resilience to embrace a hope mindset himself. While navigating multiple challenges of his own, for Hasan, the pathway to hope came down to 5 choices. They came in no particular order; some he had to recommit to every day, and many he failed to honor over and over again. But Hasan found the strength to stand again after each setback, from expulsion and struggling with Imposter syndrome like so many others who have fallen far from their dreams. This is straight talk and strategy, a chance to decide what happens next instead of waiting for whatever happens next.

In the end these 5 choices formed the strong foundation that allowed Hasan to dream bigger and aspire to greater opportunities. They allowed him to truly embrace hope and now he wants to share his journey.