Career, volunteer jobs equip woman to open business

Kathleen Hanley's transition from working professional to mom also marked the start of her journey into a brand new career.

"After my third child, I worked part time," said Hanley, who spent 15 years researching and developing hospital products after earning a degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University. As she stepped away from full-time work, Hanley said she found herself getting more involved with her community. A resident of Glen Ellyn at the time, she served on the village plan commission.

"When we moved to Hinsdale I served on the committee for the 2025 vision," Hanley said, as well as on the Madison School Parent Teacher Organization, including two years as president.

"I've always volunteered," Hanley said.

Through her volunteer efforts, she learned the ins and outs of raising money and awareness of the needs of nonprofits. She said a successful campaign to bring smart boards into the classrooms at Madison School moved her to put her years of experience to work by launching Kathleen Hanley Consulting in 2018.

"Through that I work and I actually volunteer," said Hanley.

The scope of the work determines whether she charges an organization or performs the work as a volunteer.

After helping the Oak Park-based Pro Bono Network as a paid consultant, she was hired by the organization in early 2022. As development associate, Hanley creates and executes fundraising events such as Celebrating Justice. Featuring dueling pianos, the event was held in River Forest in June.

Pro Bono Network consists of 425 volunteer attorneys who provide legal services to people in Cook and DuPage counties who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

"There are so many people out there that need help," Hanley said.

In some instances, the help that's needed is simple but crucial to the person's well-being. Hanley shared a story about a woman whose food from Meals on Wheels couldn't be delivered because of a broken doorbell her landlord refused to fix.

"One of our attorneys stepped in and contacted the landlord," Hanley said, and the problem was soon solved.

Other cases are more complicated.

"There are people who are abused and they can't get away without some legal help."

Pro Bono Network lawyers help with restraining orders, orders of protection, immigration issues, divorce proceedings, social security benefits, senior care and more. Low-income clients include families, seniors, veterans, those with disabilities, people who are or were incarcerated and others.

A lifelong animal lover, Hanley also helps the Hinsdale Humane Society with its fundraising efforts. Among other things, she helps organize and run the annual Heidi Gebauer Memorial Golf Outing.

"Animals can change peoples' lives," she said, and she is proud to help make life-changing relationships happen.

Work in medical product development might seem far from her work in nonprofit development, but Hanley said both come down to finding solutions to a problem. And whether it's reaching out for donations or planning a gala event, Hanley said solving problems within her community is what she loves to do.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean