Chief Executive
Leep 1


Susan Hanley is an inspiration to so many other adults with learning disabilities across Leeds.

Susan Hanley was born in Morley, Leeds, in 1964 and still lives there. As a woman with Down syndrome, she believes that people with learning disabilities should have the same opportunity that everybody enjoys.

Her drive and commitment to improve the lives of learning disabled people is astonishing, and motivates others. Susan’s personality and sense of humour lights up any room; she has a drive and tenacity that means she never gives up.

Susan is co-chair of Leeds Learning Disabilities Partnership Board. With five years in this role Susan has played an important part in leading improvements, challenging prejudices and getting the voice of people with learning disabilities heard.

Susan campaigns to encourage people with learning disability to engage in democracy. She has co-chaired events in Leeds Council Chamber, including a regional event with John Bercow, former Speaker of the House of Commons, becoming Mrs Speaker for the day! Susan’s passion for democracy has also seen her shadow councillors in Leeds and Ed Balls, MP.

As Chair of Leep1, a user led organisation, she has helped create a social enterprise, running monthly nightclubs for people with learning disabilities and a training café to enable more work routes into employment. Susan’s achievements are substantial and should not be underestimated, nor should the barriers she has had to overcome to reach her goals.

“People have given me funny looks all my life. I know that society treats me differently because of my learning disability, but they don’t really know me, or what I am like. That’s why I want to change things, to make life better for people like me”


As well as campaigner, innovator and advocate, Susan is also a very talented seamstress, creating beautiful stitched and embroidered pieces that have been exhibited in Leeds City Museum. She shares her passion and skills in weekly ‘Creative Hands’ sessions at Leep1.