We asked locals to nominate Montgomery County’s most influential people – men and women who are shaping the community, influencing their industries, and making a difference. Dozens of amazing stories were submitted about passionate and committed locals. At Montco Happening, we salute all those who wake up every morning with the intention of leaving the world just a little bit better.
10 outstanding individuals have been named the Top 10 Movers & Shakers of the year, and we have the honor of sharing their stories on Montco Happening. Meet Conshocken’s Kerri Hanlon, co-founder of Yoga Home as well as an advocate of yoga for Special Populations. She believes yoga is for EVERY body! Get to know Kerri:
Montco Happening: Where did you attend school?
Kerri: I grew up in Center Valley, PA – Southern Lehigh High School; then Penn State
Montco Happening: What motivates you every morning?
Kerri: I’m so fortunate to work in a space where I get to invite people to my “home” every day. Every day I have the opportunity to be surrounded by people who are on the path of living their life on purpose, with yoga as a tool to support them. How great is that?!
Montco Happening: What would you say is your idea of a perfect day?
Kerri: Start with a perfect cup of coffee and a croissant on by back deck. It would definitely include a combination of yoga, hiking or biking on the trail with my family, time snuggled up on the sofa with a good book and a long, leisurely dinner with family and friends. And maybe an optional trip to the trampoline park.
Montco Happening: Who inspires you?
Kerri: I have three children and they all inspire me in different ways. My daughter, Kyra, graduated from Georgetown and is doing a service year in Memphis. She’s been living a life of service since she was a little girl and she reminds me to see all the good that is possible in our world. My son, Connor, is studying Math and plays football at MIT. He reminds me that people are so nuanced – he’s defied labels and brings his empathetic and loyal nature to everything he does. And then there’s my youngest, Sean. Sean is 18 and has severe cerebral palsy. His life has not been easy on many levels – more surgeries than I’d like to recall, frequent hospitalizations and lives with chronic pain. Sean is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair. He inspires me with his perseverance and his ability to bring his joyous personality to everyone he meets.
Montco Happening: How did you decide open a yoga studio?
Kerri: No one is more surprised than I am that I now own a yoga studio. I loved my career as a marketing professional and was privileged to work with PBS, NPR and many other incredible organizations. 5 years ago when I started conversations with Maura Manzo, my business parter at Yoga Home, it came from a place of recognizing there was a need in our local community for people to connect through yoga. Since day one, we’ve been committed to creating a safe, sacred, inclusive space for all who enter. It became apparent to me that individuals like my Sean really didn’t have access to yoga – few yoga studios are handicapped accessible and none offered specialized instruction for individuals with disabilities. The more I realized Sean needed yoga just as much as I did, the deeper my desire to create a space where all felt welcome. Last year I really stepped up my training on Adaptive Yoga and it’s been a gift to share the practice with those who never saw that yoga could be for them.
Montco Happening: Which achievement are you most proud of?
Kerri: I’m so proud of the film I Co-Executive Produced, On the Other Side of the Fence. The film tells the story of the thirty year partnership of two schools coming together to stage a musical – HMS School (where Sean is a student) and Germantown Friends School. It chronicles the students from their first meeting to final performance It was a long process, from fundraising to filming to editing. The film won the Gold Medal at the New York International Film Festival, won an MidAtlantic Emmy for Documentary and was recognized by the United Nations for Extraordinary Public Service. All for telling the story of friendship and children celebrating their unique differences – pretty great stuff.
Montco Happening: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Kerri: Believing that I have everything I need in me to help Sean has been my biggest challenge. Sean’s needs are many and his care has gotten more complex as he’s grown. I’m so incredibly blessed to have a strong partner in this journey. My husband, Brian, is equally passionate about making sure Sean lives his life to the fullest. It was never an option for us to not have Sean join us on family vacations or outings. It definitely takes more planning and work while we’re there, but so worthwhile. Sean has hiked the Grand Canyon (literally on our backs), skied in Lake Placid, gone whitewater rafting, kayaking and so much more. I’ve learned to look past the naysayers, know we always have Sean’s best interests at heart and trust myself. I’ve also learned to ask for help – a huge challenge for so many of us.
Montco Happening: What is the biggest accomplishment that you’d like to achieve over the next 5 years?
Kerri: I would love to see more people of all abilities find yoga. Pure and simple, yoga has the ability to heal the body, mind and spirit. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or twist your body into a certain shape. In our Adaptive Yoga classes, we have people who arrive walking, some using scooters, some using wheelchairs. It’s a space where the medical diagnoses doesn’t define the student – it doesn’t matter if they have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Down’s Syndrome, are an amputee or anything else. All that matters is they are present in their bodies – connecting breath and movement. For me, yoga has been a game changer – allowing me to accept what is and step into what it is that I am called to do in this world. I would love to help more people do the same.
Montco Happening: How do you think your friends & coworkers would describe you?
Kerri: Oh my. Aside from the one who’s always running 5 minutes late? Compassionate, energetic, advocate.
Montco Happening: Where’s your favorite place to go in Montgomery County?
Kerri: I love hitting the trails. We’re so lucky that Yoga Home is across from the Conshohocken Community Garden and just a block off the Schuylkill River Trail. I can pop down for a quick walk and on weekends my husband, Sean and I may go for a bike ride into the city. It’s a great trail for all seasons.
Montco Happening: You can take a time machine back to visit yourself 10 years ago. What advice would you give?
Kerri: Let go of fear. It doesn’t serve you.
Montco Happening: Same question 10 years in the future.
Kerri: Likely the same!
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