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I remember seeing the story of Batkid saving San Francisco a few years ago and it made me interested to find out more about Make-A-Wish.Since then I have kept an eye out for Make-A-Wish initiatives over the years. I was delighted when Susan agreed to be interviewed for my podcast as I was really interested to find out what it was like being the leader of such a wonderful charity.

For those that may not know Susan, Susan joined Make-A-Wish in October 2006 as a Development & Fundraising Manager, after spending 12 years with the Irish Heart Foundation. She became CEO in October 2009 She has been in the fundraising sector for over 20 years. Susan is passionate about Make-A-Wish and feels that there can be nothing more important than putting a smile back on a child’s face. Susan calls her role the near perfect job!

In the podcast (which can be found here) we discuss a variety of topics from:

  • Susan’s journey to becoming CEO Of Make-A-Wish Ireland
  • Leadership and decision making
  • The volunteer and wish process
  • The importance of effective communication & Make-A-Wish’s recent policy change of no internal emails to colleagues
  • The recent charity scandals, transparency in the industry and how Make-A-Wish have been at the forefront of the Triple Lock compliance
  • Susan shares her most memorable wishes granted (One of my favorite part’s)
  • Why Susan would speak with her 80 year old self instead of her 18 year old self
  • What Susan Knows Now She Wished She Knew Then

As you can imagine I learned a lot from the interview but the one thing that has resonated most with me is how important family is to Make-A-Wish.Susan speaks alot about family and working with partners who “get them” and really understand what’s important to staff and volunteers at Make-A-Wish. From speaking with Susan, it’s clear to see that family is at the centre of everything Make-A-Wish do. In the interview Susan speaks in detail about the impact the child’s condition can have not only on the child and parents but also on the other siblings and extended family.

Susan explained that when Make-A-Wish grant a wish it doesn’t just positively impact the child but the entire family. Make-A-Wish creates life long memories for the entire family. Consequently when you go through the Make-A-Wish wish process you become part of the family and consequently the whole family benefit from the wish.

Susan and the team at Make-A-Wish are passionate about granting a wish that allows the child to forget about their troubles for one day. This special day has a long lasting effect on the child but also creates life long family memories.

Make-A-Wish is a very inspirational charity and I was interested to know who Susan has met with over the years that she found inspiring and had the biggest impact on her. Susan listed people like Norah Casey, Margot Slattery – Country President at Sodexo Ireland, Imelda May and Miriam O’ Callaghan as a few.

Susan is categorical when she states that the most inspirational people in Susan’s life are her close family and friends. They are the rocks for Susan and the people she draws most strength from.

I found this answer summed up Susan, as it showed me how much value she puts on her family, close friends and colleagues.

I enjoyed meeting with Susan and I have listened to the podcast again several times since we last met. I think a person listening to the podcast will learn a lot about Make-A-Wish but also learn about the importance of vulnerability and self-awareness. Susan has a very clear process when she is making decisions and is comfortable seeking advice from others and relying on her team to make the most effective decisions and achieve Make-A-Wish’s objectives.

The podcast can be found here.

Trust you will enjoy it.

If you found the podcast interesting please like it and share it.


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