It is no small thing to toss your hat into the race for township commissioner. Especially when your ward has been represented by one male Republican for 20 years. Hannah Turlish has stepped up, she says, “because it is time, because I want to serve the people in my ward and in the township, because I want to give the residents of Ward 7 a chance to vote for someone who has a different perspective” from the ward’s current commissioner, Jimmy McGarrity.
Hannah is eager to join the commission because she wants to add her voice and her vote to the initiatives the current Democrats on the commission have launched. She applauds the resolution to achieve clean renewable energy goals in the coming decades. But she knows that translating goals into realities requires that Democratic commissioners insist that this is a top priority. She also supports current discussions about using commercial development to enhance walkability in the township while increasing our business tax base. “You have to think outside the box all of the time on these issues. We have to think of more ways to bring people together along Brookline, Darby, Eagle – to make them destination sites.”
For community development to succeed, Hannah notes, these discussions must include voices with diverse solutions and different perspectives. Women comprise 51% of our township, but the current township commission is 100% male. That fact underserves and under-represents the community; every public and private organization, Hannah says, benefits from hearing diverse viewpoints. As a teacher of U.S. history at the all-male Haverford School, Hannah has considerable experience with “gently educating well-intentioned people” in regard to gender, race, and ethnicity. She brings to the table a teacher’s skills at informing people about alternate experiences and viewpoints in order to open them up, not shut them down.
Hannah and her husband Harry Green moved to Haverford Township seven years ago, when their son Oliver was just eight months old. Oliver is now a first grader to Chestnutwold Elementary. She and Harry are “regularly impressed by the school district’s commitment to all children and by the excellent education the district provides.”
Hannah is Chair of the History Department at Haverford School, as well as an assistant coach for Swimming and Diving. Both aspects of her professional life reflect significant aspects of her biography.
Hannah’s parents were English Literature professors at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She and her sister grew up in an academic household, and both are now teachers themselves. After earning her B.A. in Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the early 1990’s, Hannah stayed in Chapel Hill, waitressing and watching local political efforts to control that city’s unplanned, runaway growth. “I felt too young and insignificant at the time to make any sort of impact on local politics. I still wish I had found a network of people to show me the power of every individual.”
By 1996, Hannah had a Masters in Teaching History from Boston University and had embarked on her now 24-year career teaching in both public and private schools. She spent 12 years teaching in New York City, where she met Harry and, again, she observed citizen efforts to organize and impact municipal government.
The move to Havertown proved to be a fortunate one for both Hannah and Harry. He is able to pursue his work as a web and graphic designer while also serving as the Head Boys’ Cross-Country Coach at Haverford High School, while Hannah teaches U.S. history at Haverford School and coaches students in swimming and diving.
Athletics are obviously an important part of life in Hannah’s family, and have played an enormous role in shaping her life. She started swimming competitively at age six. Her successes by age 15, and her parents “unwavering support,” propelled her to Germantown Academy here in Philadelphia to live with a host family while she attended high school. Competing on the Germantown swim team in the late 1980’s meant Hannah was part of the strongest girls’ high school swim program in the U.S. Her athletic success there resulted in a full athletic scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill, where she was an ACC conference record holder and two-time Division I All-American.
Hannah appreciates the fact that athletics taught her embrace competition and instilled in her, at an early age, the discipline to persist in hard work and the value of teamwork. These are ingrained habits of body and mind that will energize Hannah’s campaign for commissioner in 2019 and will ensure her productivity as Haverford’s Township Commissioner for Ward 7.