Hannah DannerBy: Anne Maxwell
Hannah Danner likes a challenge.
As a Mass Communications major at Benedictine College in Atchison, she focused in the areas of journalism, photography, and graphic design. She’s naturally drawn to opportunities that stretch her creative skills, keen eye, and command of language.
But more important than the “why” that drives Danner’s career goals is the “where” her story plays out.
A native from Logan, a tight-knit community nestled in northwest Kanas, Danner moved from her home state after college with her husband, Greg and settled in a suburban area near Chicago. They enjoyed being close to Greg’s family and both loved their jobs. Even so, for Danner, it just wasn’t home.
“I really missed Kansas,” she says, struggling to find the words to quantify the element that is unmistakably associated with the place she loves most in the world. “It’s one of those intangible things. Kansas has a ‘homeyness’ that you just don’t have anywhere else. It was great to be close to Greg’s family, but he loved Kansas, too.”
At first, they tried renting a house a little further out from the suburbs – even surrounded by cornfields. The cute farmhouse was warm and comfortable.
But yet, again, it still wasn’t’ home.
“Hundreds of cars passed by our busy road each day,” she recalls. “At that point, we were thinking of starting a family and knew we didn’t want our kids going to a big school.”
They arrived back in Logan in 2018 and initially stayed with Danner’s parents with two goals in mind: to settle in Kansas and find jobs they could really love. A rental opened up and before long, their daughter Lily arrived. They brought her home and began raising her in the same beloved town where Danner had grown up.
“That was a really big deal for us,” she said, adding that it is fulfilling to give her daughter the same sense of community she had from her own childhood.
A family started in the place they loved was just one of the details on their list. By the time their daughter was born, Greg was working as a mechanical engineer with a company in nearby Norton and Danner had secured a position with the reputable Hansen Museum in Logan. It was a good position and she enjoyed the opportunity. However, it wouldn’t be long until Danner felt she should be doing more.
“I really liked it, but I was just missing that balance between the slower pace of life in rural Kansas and a challenging role in a career,” she explains.
She saw an ad for Rural & Remote and reached out. It wasn’t long before she connected with Gretchin Staples, Rural & Remote Regional Coordinator.
“It was so invigorating to talk with her,” Danner said, noting she felt Staples understood her fears about stalling out her career and feeling underemployed.
She decided to take the Master of Remote Work Certification Course through Rural & Remote and found other professionals in the area she could relate to.
“I found a great support team and there were just some really huge gains that I was able to make,” she said. “I feel like the training gave me a lot of steps up. I was able go from what I was trying to do and see how to do it. It helped me realize I wasn’t alone and that there is support for people in a rural area who want to find remote work.”
Danner also learned insightful tips and became skilled with technology respected by prospective employers during interviews.
“They were really impressed that I was familiar with certain technology platforms utilized by remote work professionals and that I knew how to use them,” she said.
With the additional insight and skillset, Danner bolstered her efforts and narrowed the qualities she was looking for in a remote position.
“I wanted to find a great company who cares about employees with great culture and support and I wanted to find something that utilized my skills where I could grow and advance,” she said. “And, if I could get it, a role that focused on strategy.”
And Danner found all that. Since last fall, she has been working as a Field Marketing Specialist for Curriculum Associates, a Massachusetts company that makes educational products for schools. It’s a role she calls a “perfect fit” that allows her to create with graphic design as well as strategize on the concepts of materials she creates for field reps to present to the schools.
Danner is not only satisfied with the challenging work, but the culture at the company which promotes professional development, encouraging employees to develop and grow in their roles. This alone would be perfect enough. But possibly the best part of it all is how the remote work allows her to still have her family at the center of her life.
“The flexible work schedule gives me the ability to let my 2-year-old sleep in,” she explains. “Once she wakes up, I can take a break, get her breakfast and then take her to my sister, who takes care of her, and get back to work. She gets to grow up with her cousin … which is just the sweetest thing.”
So, just one year that Danner calls a “whirlwind,” she looks back and still can’t believe everything fell into place.
“There was a discussion during our Rural & Remote course that talked about how other people’s success can serve as a beacon of hope,” she said. “I just want to tell other people that it’s just so worth it to keep pursuing what pushes you and what makes you happy. It makes the world a better place because making your own corner of your world happy goes so much farther than you think it would.”
And from her own corner in Logan, Danner is doing just that.