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CPAN Member Profile: Connie Hiatt ’78

Connie Hiatt ’78 saw Carolina as her way out — in more ways than one.

“I grew up in a lower-middle-income family in a small town, and my father died when I was quite young,” she shared. “I always felt different as a child, more curious. I knew my way out had to be college.”

Connie gravitated toward UNC-Chapel Hill because it was a public school and more affordable — and because she hoped Carolina would provide a safe space for her to explore and confirm her sexuality.

“Back then, there were no role models or gay and lesbian professionals in my life or even in the South. It became clear that getting out — the first step was education.”

At Carolina, Connie found other groups of women who were exploring their sexuality or who were already out. “And I found a home,” she mused. “Yeah, I found my posse.”

Connie graduated with a degree in business administration and worked as a certified public accountant for several years before earning a law degree from William & Mary Law School. She is now a partner at Altman & Cronin Benefits Consultants in San Francisco, California.

To this day, Connie remains invested in Carolina. She is a member of the Board of Visitors and a proud member of the Carolina Pride Alum Network (CPAN). She said that while her continued association with the University is more about being involved in its future, it’s important not to forget the past.

“We don’t want to forget that there was a time when out people couldn’t become professionals or be out as any kind of working person and live safely.”

And that is exactly why she is a supporter of CPAN’s project, “The Story of Us,” a collaboration with Wilson Library, the Southern Oral History Program and the Department of Communication committed to documenting and preserving LGBTQ+ Carolina history.

“Carolina has continued to grow and continues to impress me as a curious university not afraid to expand its horizons. It is certainly important for future gay and lesbian students to know that Carolina realizes and acknowledges the powerful history of this group.”

“The Story of Us” is committed to amplifying voices like Connie’s and the voices of others in the LGBTQ+ Carolina community — to filling in the historical gaps that represent the true richness and diversity of LGBTQ+ life at Carolina.

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