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Kelley Shanahan: A balanced life lived closed to home

As an administrator in Roswell Park Cancer Institute's department of medicine, Kelley Shanahan is responsible for a large staff of physicians, nurses, physician's assistants, lab technicians, and graduate and postgraduate students.

She reviews and approves purchases, manages special projects, develops and enforces procedures, and handles personnel-related issues.

By her own admission, she alternates between being glued to her computer and buried in paper.

And she couldn't be happier.

"I love paperwork," she said. "I'm good with papers. I'm very lucky to have ended up in a field that I really enjoy."

The Kelley Shanahan story often comes back to Roswell Park because of how intertwined it has become with her true loves: her family and living in Western New York.

She has worked at Roswell Park for 10 years, starting as a grants manager in the accounting office and now as an administrator in the hospital's department of medicine. She has worked part time since 2000.

"I enjoy working, but I also enjoy spending time with my children and getting involved with my children's activities," said Shanahan, known as Kelley Mitchell when she was president of the Class of 1987 at Cleveland Hill High School. "Roswell's been very accommodating."

Shanahan initially majored in computers and information technology, then switched to business studies. During college, she worked in the sales office of the Buffalo Niagara Marriott.

After graduation, she landed a full-time position at the hotel as an executive meeting manager, handling small functions. Then she switched to the research field and became an administrative assistant at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions.

She hopes Roswell Park is the last place she ever works.

"I kind of just stumbled upon the field that I'm in, but I really enjoy it," she said.

Her work schedule allows her to make it home every night to Marilla to be with her husband and high school sweetheart, Glen, and their daughters, Leah, 7, and Lily, 1.

Leah Shanahan is playing softball for the first time this year, and her dad is the coach. So the family is becoming familiar with a routine well known to baseball parents everywhere: Come home from work, scarf down dinner, look everywhere for the child's glove, pile into the minivan, race to the field and sit in the roasting sun for two hours or more yelling things like "Good eye!" and "Nice try!"

Shanahan relishes the fact that she is able to live her life so close to home. Her husband is a history teacher in the Pioneer School District, which is why the Shanahans live in Marilla -- both have about a 30-minute commute to work. When her husband was having trouble finding a teaching job, they considered looking elsewhere. She's glad it didn't come to that.

"I would not want to be somewhere doing the same thing that I do here, only without having the support of my family and my husband's family and all the friends I've made over the years around," she said. "We would have done it if we had to, but we're glad that we didn't have to do that."

In addition to attending every one of Leah's baseball and soccer games, Shanahan volunteers as a "room mom" at her daughter's school, working with the teacher to help pupils with their assignments and answer their questions, and helping them stay focused and on task while the teacher is working with other students.

Shanahan not only doesn't want to leave the area, she said she helped persuade two family members to move back. When she visits other places, she thinks about what it might be like to live there.

"No matter where you live, you still have to go to work, you still have to go to school, you still have to take care of your kids," she said. "It's not all fun and games just because it's a different place."

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