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January 26. 2014 8:08AM

Katie Orlando is inspired by the youth and mentors she matches

Katie Orlando 

Katie Orlando, 31

Home: Fremont 

Birthplace: Massachusetts

Family: Forrest Brown, grandfather; Philip F. Orlando, brother; Philip X. Orlando, father; Kathy Locke, mother.

High school: Timberlane Regional High School, Plaistow

College/post grad degrees: B.A. in history, political science and Latin American Studies

Current job: Executive director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester

Key past positions held: Assistant director of Residence Life, UMaine Farmington; chief operating officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine; director of student affairs, Chester College of New England Volunteer activities: Hooksett Kiwanis vice president, Chester Lions Club member, Jimmy Fund volunteer and marathon walker, Salvation Army bell ringer, Reach the Beach transition area captain, American Cancer Society volunteer, Manchester Central High School Key Club co-adviser

Most admired person (outside your family): Mrs. Carol Mrowka and Mrs. Lois Paul, two of my past teachers and mentors. Both still work at Timberlane Regional Middle School. Mrs. Mrowka was my 6th grade math teacher and Mrs. Paul was my student council adviser.

Key current professional challenge: Achieving consistent work/life balance

Last major achievement: I have saved four students’ lives. (They were college students I advised at Chester College and UMF—they were seriously considering suicide/in the middle of the act.) I’ve received awards and recognitions, too, but I will always place saving the life of another at the highest of my list of major achievements.

Biggest problem facing New Hampshire: Youth growing up in our state without a positive mentor in their lives.

Favorite place in New Hampshire: Any beach, mountain, or lake! 

What book are you reading now? Autobiographies about hikers who have completed the Appalachian Trail. 

How do you relax? I go for long walks (5 to 15 miles) or spend time with my kitties, Gingersnap and Meatball.

What websites do you visit most often? Facebook, WMUR and CNN.

Favorite TV show, radio station or musical artist: Favorite TV shows - "Big Bang Theory," "Revolution," "Top Chef" and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman"

FREMONT — Of all the problems plaguing our world, Katie Orlando has put misguided youth at the top of her list.

The 31-year-old has dedicated her life to ensuring that today's youth have the mentors they need to succeed. 

And it seems she's found the perfect job to accomplish her mission.

Orlando is the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester.

"We have great mentors and wonderful youth and families in our program, and I am inspired every day by the powerful impact our youth and mentors have on each other's lives and my own," she said.

She began working at the Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Manchester in April 2013 and since then has reduced the number of children on a waiting list, increased the number of enrolled "Bigs" and created a successful fundraising event, Fore the Children mini golf tournament.

"I absolutely love my job. I am very blessed," she said.

Orlando, who lives in Fremont but plans a move to Canterbury in February, is a former assistant director of residence life at the University of Maine Farmington and director of student affairs at Chester College of New England.

While she's received awards and recognition for her work over the years, Orlando said her last major achievement was when she helped save the lives of four suicidal college students while she was an adviser at Chester College and the University of Maine Farmington.

Working in higher education was rewarding, she said, but also had its challenges.

Some students she worked with had no support system in their lives and were not prepared for the independence that college allowed, she said. Working with those students was the most rewarding of all. 

"The reason why I chose the higher-ed field was because I wanted to make a difference to someone, and after my six years in the field, I made a difference to several. Nothing is more rewarding than getting a phone call, email, or office visit from a former student who is not just surviving, but thriving. It makes the work I do and the time I give to others worth it, and it empowers me to give even more of myself to help others," she said.

Orlando is a graduate of Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow and holds a bachelor's degree in history, political science and Latin American studies.

In addition to her work with youth, Orlando is vice president of Hooksett Kiwanis, a member of the Chester Lions Club, Jimmy Fund volunteer and marathon walker, Salvation Army bell ringer, Reach the Beach transition area captain, American Cancer Society volunteer, and co-adviser of the Manchester Central High School Key Club.

"I use a lot of creative ingenuity in scheduling out my days, making sure to squeeze every last minute I can out of my business day and lunch half-hour so that I have as much time in the evenings and weekends for my volunteer work and friends," she said.

Nominations for Class of 2015

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