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Shannon Sullivan gets to experience honors from the other side

MANCHESTER — As community relations manager for the New Hampshire Union Leader, Shannon Sullivan often is involved in honoring those who make a difference in their communities and state.

This time, Sullivan is on the receiving end.

She was nominated for this year's 40 Under Forty class by one of last year's honorees, Brian Thomas, her Manchester West High School classmate and long-time friend. He remembers "feeling guilty" receiving his award and congratulations from Sullivan, who he said "is 10 times more deserving."

Since taking on her position at the state's largest daily newspapers in September 2012, Sullivan has brought her prodigious energy and talent to such company projects as the annual Santa Fund to benefit the Salvation Army, the state spelling bee and the Union Leader Hero Awards.

Sullivan, 35, also is active in volunteer work for the Kiwanis Club of Manchester, the Salvation Army Manchester Corps and Friends of CHaD (Children's Hospital at Dartmouth). She's also a wife and the mother of two girls, 5-year-old Annie and 3-year-old Mahoney.

"I have a hard time sitting still," she admits.

But she said she thinks her busy schedule actually helps keep her balanced and focused. "I think staying busy is the best time-management tool."

Sullivan holds a B.A. degree in political science from Fairfield University and a master's in public administration from the University of New Hampshire. 

After working for a time in Boston, she said, she was happy to come home to New Hampshire and work toward improving the lives of those in her local community.

She was one of the founders of Mill Falls School, the state's first public Montessori school, housed in the Union Leader's building in Manchester. "I just felt really strongly about being a part of something that gave people in Manchester another option," she said.

Her dream, she said, is to someday run a philanthropic foundation with her husband, Peter Hammond.

And she doesn't rule out running for political office when her children are older. "I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about it," she said.

When she does have free time, Sullivan enjoys spending time with her family at York Beach, Maine, where her in-laws have a summer home, and Lake Waukewan, where her parents have a place.

She's a self-professed "news junkie." And she confesses a "secret addiction" to celebrity gossip magazines. 

Before she joined the Union Leader, Sullivan did marketing and communications for the United Way and the Salvation Army.

That's why the Union Leader Santa Fund is close to her heart; she's seen what a difference those contributions from ordinary individuals and local companies make in the lives of needy families. "It reaffirms the notion that there are angels everywhere," she said. Her favorite part of the job, she said, is that it gets her out into the community.

"We recognize that there are good things going on in the community, and we do what we can to promote those and recognize people who are making a difference in their community."

And now it's her turn for that recognition.


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