“I Always Felt Like I Belonged There”

Kathy (Hopinkah) Hannan (‘83) says she is retired, but don’t let that designation fool you. While she stepped down from her position as national managing partner and vice chairman at KPMG, LLP after twenty-three years in the public accounting profession, she is an active member on the boards of directors for five companies. She also serves as the chair of the Smithsonian Institution Museum of the Native American, and is a mentor, peer reviewer, and advisor for others.

“I have always had an interest in governance, and I knew that I would become more involved in corporate governance upon my retirement. I also did some governance  work in the non-profit sector while I was working, including serving as chairman of the Girl Scouts of the USA,” she explained.

Another one of those roles was serving as a member of the Loras College Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2013. That role allowed her to not only pursue a passion, but to give back to an important part of her past.

For Hannan, Loras was a well-known entity during her childhood as her cousin, Pat Flannagan (‘63), worked as a long-time faculty member and coach at the College. She visited periodically and got to know the sense of community quite well. That made choosing a college a little easier.

“Every time I visited, Loras was always welcoming. I considered other schools, including much larger ones, but Loras was just the right place. I always felt like I belonged there.”

Hannan made herself right at home as an undergrad, joining a sorority and becoming a cheerleader and Hawkette. She earned her degree in political science and accounting, gaining incredible support from the faculty, including Dr. Bob Pommerich (’59) and Dr. Richard Clark.

A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribe, diversity has always been an important aspect of Hannan’s life. She felt the intimate community of Loras celebrated its diversity in both gender and ethnicity throughout her time on campus.

“It was very equal, not just men and women, but everyone. It helped provide a comfort level of what ‘real’ is in the world and gave me a confidence that I can work with anyone and be comfortable seeking out differing opinions. Despite working in a field that was predominantly white males, I knew that I could create the culture that I desired,” she said.

Hannan has stayed connected to Loras throughout the years. In addition to her time as a trustee, she gave the keynote address for the 2004 Commencement ceremony and earned a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017 for professional achievement. Loras is also where she met her husband, Mark Hannan (’83)

So, why does a woman with such a full schedule continue to stay engaged with her alma mater?

“Loras is just part of who I am. Everything about it just becomes engrained in you and I can’t imagine not staying connected.”

Read the other coeducation alumnae stories here.