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This week’s Altruette Hero is Susan McPherson. If you don’t know her or know of her, you should. She’s traveling the world to make it a better place. Founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, Susan also serves on the boards of USA for UNHCR, Girl Rising, and The PVBLIC Foundation. It’s people like Susan who inspire us to do more for good each day. Susan shares her giving philosophy, who her heroes are and a fun fact about her childhood beau. 

Spotlight: Susan McPhersonSusan McPherson

Title: Founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies, LLC

Hometown: Albany, NY

First charitable work: Volunteering for a nonprofit called FareStart 

Something fun we should know about you: I dated one of the Bad News Bears as a teenager

Personal Twitter/Instagram handle: @susanmcp1


Questions for Susan: 

Q: Who is your philanthropic/charitable role model? A: I have many:

  • Ida Cole who helped save the Paramount Theater (built originally in 1928) from destruction in Seattle -
  • Jill Iscol, who created the incredible community called Hearts on Fire -
  • Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, who is leading the global foundation to focus on a vital cause - Inequality
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, - she is a magical inspiration and when she puts her mind behind a cause, positive change occurs

Q: If you could start your own organization, or in your case, a second one, what would it do/focus on? A: I would help those who lost a loved-one to a sudden tragedy with how to rebuild their lives and carry on. I lost my mother to a deadly hotel fire on New Year’s Eve back in 1986.  When you lose someone in such a tragedy, whether due to a catastrophic accident, a disaster or a murder, nothing can prepare you for the emotional toll, let alone all the actual rudimentary tasks one most undertake following the passing.  An organization that can provide immediate assistance would be a blessing.  These types of horrors, unfortunately, will not go away.

Q: Describe your giving philosophy in three words?  A: From the heart. 

Q: If someone gave you a check for a large sum of money that you had to give away, where would you send it?  A: I would divide it among the following:

  • UN High Commission on Refugees
  • Mission Blue
  • Bpeace
  • And then I’d give the rest to my nieces and ask them to pick their favorite charities to support!

Q: Do you have a quote about giving that you live by or you look to when you need inspiration?  A: Just Do It (sounds cliche, but sometimes, we just need a good kick in the a*s).

Q: Who are your heroes in real life? 

  • Holly Gordon - Executive Producer/Director of Girl Rising, tireless champion for girls education around the world
  • Sylvia Earle - 80-year-old oceanographer who tirelessly travels the world 360 days per year to help us all 1) care about what is under the sea and 2) draw parallels to how it affects our daily lives
  • Tammy Tibbetts - at age 22 founded the unique and passionate, She’s The First
  • Becky Straw - after several years at Charity Water, saw the need for job creation at the base of the pyramid in developing countries and founded The Adventure Project

Q: Who do you think Altruette should make a charm for in 2016? A: Mission Blue - How about a dolphin or starfish?

Q: How do you fit in time for the causes you care about? A: It’s what I do on a daily basis. The question is how do I find time for all the other things!