Manchester woman honored as role model

MANCHESTER — From farm to fashion to finance, Katharine Chaney-Jones has done more in one life than most could imagine.

For those who know her, it comes as no surprise that she will be honored as one of the 100 Women of Color in Connecticut.

The award honors women of color who have become positive role models in their communities.  The gala, which takes place on March 16, raises money for the nonprofit Concerned Citizens for Humanity to support scholarships and programs dedicated to the advancement of young women of color.

Chaney-Jones is a Manchester resident who works for Barnum Financial Group in Glastonbury as a financial service executive.  With a list of accolades and qualifications that would make anyone’s head spin, including being recognized by both Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, she is a force to be reckoned with, no matter the industry.

Prior to her success at Barnum as a wealth manager, she worked in the fashion industry in New York City.  There, she ran several flagship stores, including Macy’s and Barney’s.  She lived a life seen in movies: dressing the upper echelon (including, but not limited to, Joan Rivers and Oprah) in runway-worthy clothing.

Chaney-Jones grew up in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, population: 1,325.  She was one of seven children on a 260-acre farm.  Her childhood, she says, was one of exploration and adventure — two things that she seeks out to this day.

“I don’t really have the word ‘no’ in my vocabulary,” she says.

As a young black woman in the 1970s with big dreams, that was a means of survival.  She was told early on that she would never make it in the fashion industry because of the color of her skin, but she never let that stop her.

Chaney-Jones is a success in an industry that has few women and fewer people of color. She is a lifelong member of the Million Dollar Round Table, an international group recognizing the most talented financial service representatives from over 500 companies.

Nonetheless, she says, she would still go home to Wisconsin to help her father bring the cows in to remind herself of where she comes from.

Today, she works to help people and families gain a sense of financial security. Some of her specialties include selling retirement plans to Connecticut teachers and special needs planning for families of children who have disabilities. She also participates in complementary financial education programs for parents and young adults.

“If you’re going into a field that’s predominantly male … you want to always keep your integrity strong, and keep other strong women around you,” she says.

Her dedication to her clients and especially her clients in under-served communities earned her the Samaritan Award from Barnum’s Foundation for Life, and now has earned her a spot on the 100 Women of Color list, which she’s excited about.

“I’m still working toward my success everyday,” she says.  She advises young women to always keep learning, despite any obstacles.

“There’s so many paths off the trail you’ve already started on,” she says. “There’s no reason why you can’t travel them all.”

Originally published by the Journal Inquirer