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Susan McPherson

SVP & Director

New York, NY

It was then I started to see the intersection between cause and business and realized that brands and corporations can be a force for good in the world.

Three years ago I found myself at a mid-life crossroads. After 15-plus years working at PR Newswire, I had come to the end of my professional road. Having reached a vice presidential position a few years earlier, I was left with zero opportunity for personal advancement, few challenges and a company-wide feeling of questionable growth ahead. My feet felt like they were stuck in dried cement; I was paralyzed.

I had overcome challenges before: I had lost my mom at age 20 in a hotel fire, recovered from a defeated marriage of eleven years, packing up and moved 3000 miles away to a new city where I knew no one, and even had to learn how to have sex again! Hardship continued, as shortly after the move east, I witnessed the two-year slow-death of my father. Thankfully, I found the strength to do the necessary soul-searching to plan a roadmap and begin the journey to my next venture in life.

There was absolutely no reason I couldn't grasp what my future could be. The question was: How could I take this turning point, bottle it up and somehow monetize it? During this time, I had taken an active interest in corporate social responsibility and in my spare time, I stayed up-to-date with the industry and attended conferences when possible. When not working, I poured myself into various causes (women's advancement and leadership, entrepreneurship, environmental programs), as well as always being the go-to person for those looking for new jobs, connections, nonprofits to support and even potential life partners. It was then I started to see the intersection between cause and business and realized that brands and corporations can be a force for good in the world. With that idea in mind, I started to reach out via my network to uncover potential opportunities.

By leaning in, I was able to ascertain the important next move. Due to solid and wonderful friendships; a very supportive partner; my ability to reach out to, and connect with, anyone online; and with my voracious appetite for research, I was able to form a new path and strategy.

Looking back at the last three years, I feel at peace with the decisions I've made and the road I've chosen. I've found my new direction and its one of excitement and challenge each and every day. Currently, I am a senior vice president at Fenton, the country's leading public interest communications firm. My role is to lead our corporate responsibility practice and help market our good work to the overall public interest sector. Each day I'm blessed with working alongside some of the most passionate and brilliant thought-leaders, each making a difference in the work they do. My thirst for creating innovation and developing new initiatives is satisfied. I feel challenged and motivated and look forward to continuing the enriching work we have ahead of us. I'm now paid to do what I'm passionate about. How rewarding is that?