Mary Susanne. Role Models, Mentors and Heroes

posted June 15th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Mary Susanne whether she had role models, mentors or anyone she considered a hero at any stage of her career. She said: “I had mentors for sure.  Interestingly enough, now that you bring that up, I’ve always done things and so years ago… G-d, I must have been in my 20’s… Mary Heintzman (a good friend of my parents), called me up, as she and two other people were the Chairs of the Restoration Fund at University College and they had looked up the names of the people from the 60’s and there were very few that they recognized for a whole bunch of different reasons but my name was one of them.  They knew who I was, they knew who my parents were and I wasn’t somebody who was busy blowing up the university in the 60’s, so they called me up and asked me to do some things at University College.  And I did. One of the things I did was organize tours of the restoration by named graduates. I was very fortunate with the response. It was the beginning of my philanthropic activities.”


“I did a couple of things with Barbara McDougall and Jocelyn Paul who were graduates of University College.  They were older than I, but were Kappas. The Kappas were an important part of my life at the University of Toronto.  I lived there.  The year I lived there it was all Kappas living in the house and they continue to be amongst my closest friends. I organized a number of events at UC after graduation and one of them was a speaker from Simmons College in Boston. We were doing a seminar.  Anyway, I asked the Royal Bank if I could have a lunch on the 40th floor and they agreed. I invited a group of very senior people to that luncheon and the honoured speaker didn’t show up which was a bit of a scary thing but I got through it. Mona Campbell came to the luncheon. She was very impressive.  She was a Director of the TD Bank and owned her own company, Dover Industries. In terms of connections, she came back into my life when I worked on the fund raising campaign for the ballet school.”


“Another woman who really was a mentor was Doreen Sanders.  Doreen was the Editor of the Business Quarterly at Western for 25 years. I knew her as a little girl growing up on Alexandra Wood. She would come to visit neighbours on our street with her husband after playing golf and they would have these rowdy scotch evenings. I always knew that she was different.  She was a wonderful role model for me. One of my mother’s classmates at law school was Margaret Campbell and she became an alderman.  I think she probably ran for Mayor at some stage but I can’t recall for certain.  In a sense, I was surrounded by lots of highly intelligent, motivated women who did things but Doreen would certainly be at the top of the list in that way. My mum had a lot of friends that I liked a lot who didn’t necessarily work but encouraged me to do things because they always thought my mother would have been a happier person had she used her law degree to work, which she didn’t, except at legal aid but that was a bit late in the game when that happened.  So I had a lot of mentors, if you will.”


I asked Mary Susanne whether she saw herself as a role model, mentor or hero to others. She said: “Oh yes, I think so.  Certainly I’m very good at… at least, I like to think I’m good with younger people.  I encourage them. I hire them.  I take my nieces and nephews on trips which I hope encourage them.  I don’t know whether they would think I am but I suspect they do.  Certainly one of the things I hope that I pass on to them, and I’m not sure that they all accept it or realize how important it is, is maintaining connections.  I think you just can’t emphasize that enough.  You never know.  It’s not that you’re using people because it’s a two-way street. When I was a very young girl, I went to a camp in Algonquin Park.  I was out with eight women in San Francisco a couple of years ago and we would have been 11 and 12 when we met. They would give me credit for keeping that group together and they’re from all over the United States, so it’s an amazing story but that’s what we do.  This summer, we are headed to Maine for a reunion weekend. The woman who ran the camp was also a very impressive lady.  She was originally from St. Louis.  She was kind of a crazy lady but a very interesting woman. She is still alive, living in Niagara on the Lake. She ran a wonderful camp. It’s over 100 years old and is the oldest operating women’s camp in North America.”


What Strikes Me?

Role models and mentors can come from any part of our life


The importance of maintaining connections


Our life outside our “work” can provide us with many opportunities to contribute and connect


What Strikes You?


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