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Life Lessons: Katie Donovan


Life Lessons:
Katie Donovan


*Are you happy at the moment?

Absolutely. I am at a stage where I am not only at ease with myself but also am at ease with the world. I can see a benefit of each moment no matter what is happening… good, bad, exciting, or boring.

*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

Be more of a rebel. I was quite the good girl who followed all the rules. Things really get done when you question the rules and sometimes even break them.

*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

I would say I continue to relearn that it is better to ask forgiveness than get permission. This year, I have followed that mantra often. It saves a lot of headaches and helps move things forward.

*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

Pass an Equal Pay Bill that includes provisions to end the use of salary history in the hiring process and require the inclusion of pay minimums in job advertisements. MA has filed such a bill. CA is filing one. I have been advocating for this since 2011 and this year there is real movement. Of course, there are 48 more states that need to consider similar measures.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

Finding joy in others. This can be just spending time with friends and family but it is truly being happy for their growth, accomplishments, and happiness. Too much focus on myself and I can become miserable.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

I go in spurts of different rituals since I get bored often. One thing I never bore of is being by water. I jog by a lake, kayak, even drive by water and I feel at peace. Other rituals include mindful meditation, yoga, and baking.

*What’s your biggest regret?

I regret that my fingers are not longer. They are little stubs that made playing the piano very difficult. Even with years of lessons, I never got any good.

*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I don’t have kids. I have nieces and nephews who I always nudge towards rethinking things that scare them. I’m not trying to make them daredevils, but I do want to see them challenge themselves. It helps to grow and I can’t imagine anything worse than peaking in high school.

*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I already quit smoking 20 years ago. That was the worst bad habit. I’m allergic to alcohol so I don’t drink. Really, at this point it is good to leave a few relatively bad things.

*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

The work I’m doing now to close the pay gap which currently is 22% for women and larger for people of color. I work one person at a time through consulting and classes and for all through politic advocacy to close the gap.

*When were you happiest?

I’m happy now and look forward to it keep getting better yet looking back, there was something about being 25-28 that I miss. It was a time when I had some money of my own and a lot of friends with a lot time on our hands. We were adults without being bogged down with all the adult responsibilities. I always look back at that time with a huge smile.

*What ten words best describe you?

Determined, innovative, caring, loving, curious, helpful, direct, funny, empathic, and Bostonian.


Katie Donovan is a salary and career negotiation consultant, equal pay innovator, and keynote speaker. Her company, Equal Pay Negotiations LLC, teaches women pay, benefits and career negotiation through online courses, mobile apps, workshops, and personal consulting. Katie has a 360-degree background in employment that includes working for a staffing firm, an applicant-tracking developer, and a trade association. This background gives her the perspective of income negotiation as part of the hiring process, not a conflict. She also has 20 years experience in negotiating. Her experience enabled her to innovative the elimination of previous pay in the hiring process and requiring job advertisements to include minimum pay as means to close the gender pay gap.

Ms. Donovan speaks and conducts workshops on equal pay, salary negotiations, and career management at such venues as Harvard Business School, NASDAQ, National Association of Women MBAs Conference, Association of American University Women, University of North Carolina, and Mom Corps. WGBH’s Greater Boston, HuffPost Live, NPR’s All Things Considered, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, US News & World Report, Woman’s Day,, The Glass Hammer, and many other media outlets have covered her. Connect with Katie on Twitter @KDSalaryCoach or

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