July 14, 2017 | last updated July 14, 2017 3:14 pm
40 Under Forty 2017

Katie Hanley

Photo | J. Fiereck Photography
Photo | J. Fiereck Photography
Photo | J. Fiereck Photography
(From left to right) Jacob A. Hunter, Julia Monique Johnson, Katie Hanley, Paul Diego Holzer and Karen T. Taylor.

Age: 34

Company: Oak Hill

Title: Director, Oak Hill Centers

Town where I live: Hartford

Town where I work: Hartford

College: UMass, UConn

Fun Fact

Best job I ever had was as a stunt performer! I learned about taking risks and working with a team.


What do you do in your current job? I oversee several innovative disability service programs called Oak Hill Centers. I manage a team of brilliant, dedicated professionals that I learn from, and have fun with, every day. As a member of Oak Hill's leadership team, I work with other senior leaders to operationalize the objectives in our strategic plan.

What are your goals in your current job? Ultimately, my goal is to fulfill our mission with genuine passion and enthusiasm and to optimize our resources to increase impact. On the day to day, my goal is to learn something from every experience and to make meaningful and lasting connections with my team and the people we serve.

What's your biggest passion? My biggest passion is social inclusion and equitable opportunity within the community. I've cared about social justice my whole life, it seems, and I knew very early that I wanted to work with people with disabilities. At 16, I volunteered as a Special Olympics gymnastics coach, and that led to my first job as a self-advocate liaison. Everyone — including people with disabilities — is better off when they are part of a community.

What are your future professional aspirations? I feel lucky to be where I am professionally, and want to continue to build on my experience. I'm hoping to join a volunteer board of directors to gain experience and practical understanding of organizational functions at that level. One day I would like to be CEO of a nonprofit with a mission that speaks to my heart. I want to leave a lasting impression on the world and be someone my daughters admire.

How are you involved in the community? I am living, working, playing, and raising my kids in Hartford. My husband serves on community boards in Hartford. I served on the Hartford Commission on Disability Issues for six years. It's personal. We care about this city and plan to stay here.

If you were governor of Connecticut for a day what is one policy you'd push to improve the state's future? I have worked with individuals with disabilities and families for a long time. Meaningful, lasting community connections is the way to a better life for everyone, you and me included. Right now, there are too many families without support options for their loved one with a disability and/or they are virtually stranded on a "waiting list." We will improve our state's future when there is a strong safety net for our residents. I would eliminate costly, outdated programs and reinvest the funds to better serve the thousands of people who are in desperate need of a life in the community.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty: Started inclusive arts program for Hartford youth that still runs today, thanks to Charter Oak Cultural Center. Awarded "Field Instructor of the Year 2013" for University of St. Joseph's social work program. Hosted Miss Wheelchair America 2016 at Oak Hill to raise awareness and (hopefully) start a Connecticut pageant. We now have a Miss Wheelchair Connecticut 2017, Shannon Mazurick! The 2018 pageant is in October at Chapter 126, an Oak Hill Center. Member of leadership team at Oak Hill — largest disability services provider in the state.

Click here to see all 40 Under Forty winners

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