She has scuba-dived 110 feet down in the Cayman Islands, enjoys indoor skydiving with her grandsons, and has lived in Chicago for over 30 years. New opportunities constantly await Chicago Architecture Center docent, Kathleen Hanley, who is training the next crew of river cruise docents this summer.
Why did you become a docent?
For years, I loved Chicago Architecture Center tours: walking and the River Cruise, and always took out-of-town visitors on them. I decided years ago that, when I had the time, I wanted to be one of those interesting docents.
As a child, what did you want to do when you “grew up”?
A lawyer or architect. See how that worked out -- I ended up with a BA in Psychology and an MBA.
What is your favorite building on the tour and why?
150 North Riverside. It is an amazing feat of design and engineering on a site considered "unbuildable" for many years.
What is something people are surprised to learn about you?
I'm a bit of an adventurer; I love roller coasters, scuba diving, and I took my grandsons to an indoor skydiving place and did it with them. That really surprised them!
What has been your most interesting guest interaction?
I love learning about special things to see in guests' home towns. Based on a guest's recommendation, I recently visited the Weisman Foundation in Los Angeles, a wonderful private art collection I'd known nothing about.
Where is the next destination on your travel wish list?
I'd like to visit Southeast Asia but don't have that planned yet. My next destination is the Colorado Rockies.
How long have you been volunteering as a docent?
I became a volunteer Exhibit Host in 2014, a docent in 2015 and a River Cruise docent in 2016.
Where in Chicago are your favorite places to….
• Unwind – My balcony, watching the sun set. • Experience the great outdoors – The lakefront. • Grab a great cup of coffee/tea – Argo Tea. • Enjoy a delicious dinner – Any good seafood restaurant. • Play tourist for a day (besides the cruise of course!) – Walking and exploring a new neighborhood.
What is your "day job"?
No paid jobs any more. I volunteer at Project CURE which collects medical supplies and equipment and sends to under-served clinics in poor countries around the globe.
Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled?
I have been intrigued by them all ... but then, there is always Paris! I like to think my favorite may be in the future.
Anything you would like to leave us with?
The Chicago Architecture Center has both fueled and allowed me to share my enthusiasm for this city with so many others. It's so gratifying to have visitors say they had no idea that Chicago was such a vibrant, fascinating and friendly city.