About Our Founder
Mother. Marine. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Reality Star. Those are just a few words to describe this decorated Gunnery Sergeant of Marines, Tee Marie Hanible. Tee recently retired from the Marine Corps. Her first assignment after retirement was becoming the only female military expert on the new Fox Network, reality-based competition show, American Grit.
Her organization, Operation Heroes Connect, connects at-risk youth with service members and veterans as full-time mentors a mission that given her humble beginnings, is near and dear to her heart. Tee Hanible was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois by her adoptive parents Minnie and William C. Hudson. During her early years in the Marine Corps, Tee has dedicated countless hours to her community through her work at places such as Brother Beeno’s soup kitchen and shelter for the homeless in Oceanside, CA; Alternative for Girls in Detroit, MI; Stand Up for Kids DC; and other community outreach organizations at various military assignments. As a recruiter she found a love for working with youth and helping to guide them towards productive futures.
In April of 2011, Tee founded Operation Heroes Connect, an organization that not only partners service members and veterans as mentors for at risk youth but also provide community outreach services in the DC, MD and VA areas. In 2013 her organization started its now annual and highly acclaimed 30 Days of Giving campaign in which Operation Heroes Connect collects and distributes coats, clothing, and food items for the almost 600 citizens that make up Northern Virginia homeless community living in what is known as "Tent City".
Whether its being chosen to represent the state of Illinois at a dinner by the White House honoring local military leaders who deployed in support of OIF and OEF or being featured in the Newsweek Magazine “Heroes Edition” for her community work and selfless service both in an out of the uniform, her work in helping youth continues to be in the forefront of everything she does. In 2012 Tee helped to spearhead the Marine Corps' first ever Youth Leadership Academy which took place during Marine Week in Cleveland, Ohio and was subsequently honored by the Mayor of Cleveland for her successful execution of the program and impact on the 250 youth that participated. Shortly later, Tee was selected to speak during the 2012 Heroes Summit Panel hosted by the Newsweek Daily Beast. Later in November that same year Tee’s organization was awarded Black Celebrity Giving's (BCG) 2013 Rising Star Award and the “Action in Community Through Service” (ACTS) 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award.
In 2013. Mrs. Hanible founded Finding Your Vision Expo, a female empowerment expo that brings motivational speakers and other successful women to share their experiences with women who are looking for sisterhood and motivation and enlisted the help of R&B Grammy Award winning singer Syleena Johnson to do just that. In 2014 Tee held a Finding Your Vision expo in Fredericksburg, Virginia hosted by Johnson.
Tee’s other awards include: The 2013 recipient of the Marine Corps Maj McClung Leadership Award for the Marine Corps for her service and accomplishments. This award recognizes a Marine who displays inspiration, innovative and imaginative leadership both on and off-duty. Tee is also the 2013 C. Haskell Small Award for Volunteer Service which is presented each year by the USO of Metropolitan Washington, Inc. in recognition of volunteer efforts performed while off duty. Tee is also the recipient of the 2014 Washingtonian Award (DC Metro), an award presented annually to a person who have demonstrated leadership, selflessness, generosity and compassion in their service to others. To date Tee is the only service member to have been awarded this coveted title. Recently, on top of becoming one of the breakout new stars of American Grit, Tee has received the Dunkin Donuts Community Hero Award for her outstanding work in the Northern Virginia and D.C. areas.