Mountain Youth’s February Difference Maker: Kateleen Harman
Special to the Daily
Kateleen Harman is a dynamic, resilient, and dedicated professional working toward social and racial justice in her personal and professional life. She speaks with an open heart and a brilliant mind and if someone were to write a book of quotes, they could come directly from Kate, as her honesty, empathy, wit and intelligence comes through in every word she says.
Harman is the family and community engagement manager for My Future Pathways, working with young Hispanic adults and parents to strengthen community connections and build resiliency. She wanted a career with a purpose that does something positive for others and she has found just that in her work with My Future Pathways.
The youngest of four, Harman was born and raised in Lima, Peru, where she attended a private Catholic School. Her experiences have shaped her life perspective. Harman started working in Eagle County nine years ago to pursue the “American Dream” where she fell in love with the valley and her future husband, Nic.
With a degree in communication and development, Harman has used her education to become a manager in the service and administration industry and to create positive change within our community. She worked in the service industry for many years where she faced racism, sexism and discrimination due to being an immigrant, native Spanish speaker and a woman. She has turned these experiences into action and purpose, finding a job where she can pursue her passion to support women’s and youth’s rights through education, advocacy and teaching life skills.
Through the difficulties and hardships Harman has faced, she continues to create a supportive community here with her husband, friends and coworkers while enjoying the beauty that the valley has to offer. She has built a space for parents and young adults to feel proud of their background, to pursue the life they deserve, and to “let go of the idea that we are here to survive; we are here to thrive.”
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In her own words, Harman wants to “be able to take my own experience and what I’ve learned and give it to someone else to make a difference in their life; I think that is amazing,” she said. “Especially when it comes to women’s health.”
Harman understands that education is the “great equalizer” and wants to use her work at My Future Pathways to empower kids and adults to not feel limited and encourage the next generation to advocate for their mental health and change the way they view success in our society.
“We feel like we are here on borrowed time and borrowed space as immigrants. We are just supposed to work really hard, keep our head down and just be grateful that we get the chance to be here,” she said. “At the same time, I pay taxes, I’m a citizen now, I’m multicultural and bilingual and that should have a value. We need to start making space for ourselves, learn how to use our voice, advocate for our rights, and empower kids by saying, if you want to be mayor of Vail, you can. How do you get there and how can we help you get there?”
Harman is doing just that. She is creating a space for all youth to feel welcomed, valued, and to look to the future with hope. She is creating social change in a place that may look perfect on the outside until you see the cracks of social injustice. She is showing youth and parents how to make space for themselves to use their voice, and access all the resources this valley has to offer, which are also here for them.
To learn more about Harman and My Future Pathways, visit Myfuturepathways.org/
Stevi Bratschie is the community education manager at Mountain Youth. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.