Kerry Norton, 2023 Outstanding Women in Business recipient

Kerry is the Executive Director at Hope on Haven Hill

Kerry was one of the original founders of the organization and eventually became the executive director in 2019. She is a registered nurse who is currently completing a master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).  Previously, Kerry worked as a maternal child health registered nurse in labor and delivery, pediatrics and prenatal care, teaching childbirth and sibling classes, and is a certified Nurturing Parenting Program educator. In 2019, Kerry oversaw the opening of Abi’s Place, a recovery house for women who have completed treatment and their babies. In 2019, Kerry was a recipient of the Pillars of Excellence Award from the Addiction Policy Forum, given annually to “cutting-edge leaders from communities across America who are innovators in the fight against substance use disorders.”

RtkerrynortonTell me more about Hope on Haven Hill.

We are based out of Rochester, but we serve the entire state. There are only two treatment programs that offer the levels of care that we do in New Hampshire, but we’re the only one on the Seacoast.

We offer a full continuum of treatment and recovery support services for pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders. We offer residential treatment, high-intensity pregnant and parenting residential treatment, which is a specialty area. We have recovery housing and full outpatient services, including recovery and low-income housing. Since December, we also offer prenatal care. We have a midwife, a family nurse practitioner for primary care, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Now we’re able to meet all of their needs in one place.

Right off the bat we wanted to find out what is preventing women from getting help. Besides the fact that there was a limited availability of that help, a lot of women are really reluctant to leave children and babies if they have to go to treatment. We’re taking care of women that are homeless, with low income, so they don’t have the advantages of having child care to do these things. They don’t have transportation, so we provide child care in all of our programs.

The women we work with are so brave. They are asking for help, which is not easy. They’ve got so much stacked against them. We’re supported by the community, by the state, and they start to believe that people care about them, and that’s such a big deal.

It’s such an honor to have been able to identify something that women needed, that society expected from them to ask for, and then when they asked for it, it wasn’t there. Being able to provide it for them has been a really incredible journey.

What are your leadership values?

I definitely lean on our team. We value compassion and women empowerment. Most of our workforce is women, but we have some amazing men too. We value being in a place where women are valued. We support their professional development and continuing education to get certifications, licenses, so that we can keep great employees for the future.

We value family, because that’s who we’re caring for. We want to be a place where people feel that they are well cared for professionally and supported as a family person. We like to have a culture of women supporting women.

We are so grateful for the men in our workforce, because it also gives our clients an opportunity to meet safe, supportive men. Almost a hundred percent of the women that we care for have histories of significant trauma and abuse. So, we lay a foundation of safety, which is going to help our clients receive a different way of support that’s authentic.

What advice do you have for future women business leaders?

I truly believe you have to do what feels passionate for you. Being a leader is hard work, but it doesn’t feel as hard when it’s something that you feel strongly about. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t feel that this was so needed. It’s so important for clients, the community, my staff, for everybody to see that.

The work we do is really complex, and it’s really painful work. The women that we’re caring for are going through so much, and they’re amazing mamas. People will always ask, would you do this all again? And every single time, I say yes.

Categories: Outstanding Women in Business