Hooked on social change since learning how messed up our planet is (at UNC-Chapel Hill), Susan has spent three decades in the nonprofit trenches: raising many millions, directing field on political campaigns, serving on boards, mentoring advocates and developing leaders. Trained as an organizer and educated in organizational development, she now consults with any nonprofit or company who cares about their workplace culture. She also directs the Nonprofit Wellness Pilot: more at www.NonprofitWellness.org
Susan learned self-care to stay sane as a parent who was a nonprofit fundraiser. Unfortunately, she has witnessed too many people (esp. those responsible for revenues) teetering on the edge of burnout over the years. It's about team-care, not just self-care.
We neglect our physical health by cutting corners on food, not making time to exercise, and skipping sleep/vacations. Our mental health is compromised by oh-so-many things: workplace drama, financial insecurity, intoxicants, depression, and lack of spirituality/gratitude.
Combine that with the inevitable personal battles -- fighting illness, going through divorce, parenting kids, caring for sick pets/parents, managing money ... the list is endless. This all takes its toll over the years and is causing burnout and retention problems in both nonprofit and corporate worlds.
The good news is, these things are address-able. Sometimes even fix-able. Adopting behaviors that promote physical and mental health takes going outside one's comfort zone. But the rewards -- greater vitality, joy and productivity -- are worth it.
Personally, Susan embraces laughter, friendships, dancing, yoga, nutrition, pet love and caffeine as core strategies for wellness. With some slogging (slow jogging), circus arts, mindfulness, and healthy cooking projects on the side.
Here's the official LinkedIn bio-- some fave professional highlights include: leading 16 Campus Green Vote, Environmental Justice and Environmental Journalism training academies for college students, co-founding an early AmeriCorps program, overseeing EWG.org's massive email list growth, developing corporate partnerships at BoardSource, and bringing play to kids via Playworks and KaBOOM! More from Susan in an archived Washington Post chat on "Benefits of Recess," a Social Velocity interview on fundraising, a MobLab Live webchat on self-care & activism or this TechSoup Europe podcast on burnout prevention.
Susan is a proud Baltimore native and spent many summers as a crabhouse server (even after becoming vegetarian). She earned Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Communications, served as a leader with the Student Environmental Action Coalition, and had the privilege of being a men's basketball statistician under the leadership of Coach Dean Smith at UNC-Chapel Hill. Susan completed Georgetown's Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership program and is also a graduate of many training experiences including Green Corps, Midwest Academy, Rockwood Institute, Dismantling Racism, Landmark Education, Circus Yoga and Yoga Teacher Training. She considers 17+ years birthing and raising two amazing humans her most intensive educational experience and most joyful endeavor.
Susan's hybrid skills coached me through an inflection point in my tenure as Executive Director. I was navigating internal organizational challenges and external barriers at the federal level. Susan applied her 25+ years managing non-profits, navigating shifting landscapes and fundraising (always fundraising) to lay a more sustainable course for GHF.
Most importantly, she integrated it with my personal health and family goals, all in a few short months.
--Amy Livingston, Global Health Foundation
Back in the 90s, Susan introduced our unwilling office staff to “chair yoga” and “mindfulness” and we all groaned.
Today, my best days begin with a meditative walk through the quiet, snowy woods, and I understand why Susan embraced early mind-body-spirit integration as a burnout prevention tool.
--Rani Sheaffer, Maine Conservation Voters
As my first boss in the nonprofit field 15 years ago, Susan developed my voice as a grant writer and instilled in me the power of storytelling.
These essential lessons informed who I am as a fundraiser today. Supported by Susan's early coaching and continued mentorship I am now a development professional!
-- Anne Morgan, Consultant, Seattle, Washington
"As a resident physician, burnout is a huge problem and very difficult to combat given our crazy hours. Susan gave great insight and had a wonderfully interactive workshop.
I think if everyone took a few minutes out of their day to relax and play, we would all be happier. It is a powerful tool to combat resident burnout."
-- Dr. Ferrin Ruiz, coordinator of Med/Peds Residents Conference at UCLA
Everyone must take your physical and mental health into their own hands,
but everyone also contributes to the overall health of the team. It's a team culture.
The better we all are, the better for our mission and the bottom line. But self-care only goes so far.
We have to build systems where we SUPPORT EACH OTHER (yes, shouting is necessary).
We must focus more on:
1) boosting worker health and therefore productivity,
2) supporting recruitment, satisfaction and retention (inverse of burnout and turnover),
3) building office culture (because you know it's not perfect).
Let's address physical health, mental health & team health to find your sweet spot of well-being.