BEACON PHOTO/NOAH HERTZ SOURCES FOR INFORMATION — Ava Hanner, right, the new public information officer for DeLand’s Police and Fire departments, will be working for and with Chris Graham, left, who oversees the distribution of all public communications as DeLand’s community information manager.

Ava Hanner is the new spokesperson for the Police and Fire departments in the City of DeLand. Hanner started on the job Nov. 29.

As the city’s new public-safety public information officer (PIO), Hanner takes over the responsibilities of letting the public and the media know what’s going on in both departments, freeing Community Information Manager Chris Graham to focus on other responsibilities.

Hanner told The Beacon she is excited about her new job.

“I’m very excited, and have enjoyed it so far, even though it’s only been four days,” she said.

Hanner comes to DeLand from Volusia County’s Beach Safety Division. While she did some work with Beach Safety’s public relations and outreach team, Hanner spent most of her seven-and-a-half years there as a lifeguard, mostly on a part-time basis but also full time for more than a year-and-a-half as a beach safety specialist.

“Beach Safety is a law-enforcement agency,” she said.

In addition, both her father and her grandfather were longtime officers in the Dayton Police Department in Ohio. Her dad served from 1980 to 2004, and his father from 1952 to 1982, she said.

Hanner also worked part time for the county’s Emergency Management Division for about three months in 2019-2020 as a special worker, or “basically an intern,” as she put it.

Hanner, 23, is almost a native of Volusia County, having lived here since age 6, when her family moved here after her dad’s retirement in 2004. She grew up in Port Orange, graduated from Spruce Creek High School, and got a bachelor’s degree in criminology at Florida State University. She just finished getting a master’s in emergency crisis management at the University of Central Florida.

While admitting she has “not a ton of PIO work” under her belt, Hanner is promising to come up to speed quickly while working for and with Graham.

“I’m sure Chris will help,” she said.

And Graham said that’s exactly what he will do.

“Yeah, I’m not just going to throw her into things,” he told The Beacon. “I’ll work with her. We’re going to be a team.”

Graham sees good things with Hanner going forward.

“She’s super-bright and really impressed us during the interview process,” he said. “And she was highly recommended by Beach Safety.”

Having a background in law enforcement within her family didn’t hurt, especially when coupled with her own experience as a beach safety specialist.

“She’s been in that environment,” Graham said. “She’ll hit the ground running.”

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