With a diverse professional history spanning many states and two continents, Founder & Executive Director Carey Dougherty decided to go back to school in 2005 to pursue a long-time dream of studying interior design. Carey later worked on various high-end residential projects in Fairfield County, CT, but soon realized her true passion was designing for those she felt could most be impacted by having a professionally designed space: People who led busy lives, who did not have the financial means necessary to hire an interior designer, and who currently did not have a space in their home that reflected their needs and personality– “who they are, where they’ve been and what they love.” Passionate about her belief that a home can truly enhance one’s well-being when it satisfies these criteria, Carey was looking for a way to provide “havens” for those who needed it most.
The first “lightbulb” moment came when the idea was presented to partner with Soroptimist International of Greater Bridgeport, an organization of which Carey had been a member for several years. Thrilled to have found a way to make her dream a reality, Carey formed a committee and, in 2009, Her Haven was launched. Working with Soroptimist to raise funds and select a winner, Carey then set about recruiting contractors, drawing up plans, and sourcing materials, furnishings and accessories to be used to turn winner Nancy Kingwood’s storage room into a comfortable and stylish office space. After completion of this project, Nancy wrote to Carey of finally having a place to “sit and be still”, inspiring her to make several life-changing decisions including marriage, pursuing a Master’s degree, and opening a consulting firm.
Humbled by this first project and the positive impact it had on Nancy, and inspired by the contractors who dropped everything to help a complete stranger, Carey decided she wanted to do something more. The next “Aha!” moment then came to her: Establish a nonprofit that partners with design programs across the country, enabling Her Haven to expand its reach and impact while at the same time giving design students invaluable experience and exposure.
It was, and is, a win/win for everyone.