Celebrating Thirty Years of Susie Gordon

Susie Gordon sits at a desk and laughs, writing on a notepad while wearing a blue name tag. She has short, blonde hair.

Since 1993, Susie Gordon’s smile has been the first thing to greet people at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. As an administrative assistant, Susie has kept the Trust moving day-to-day, ensuring that all staff, grantees, and partners have what they need to succeed. 

We all know that it’s not what you do, but how you make others feel that’s the most memorable. There’s not a day in nearly 30 years of service where Susie’s warmth, dedication, and humor didn’t brighten someone’s day.

Susie, congratulations on your amazing career and retirement. You will always be part of the Trust family!

Q&A with Susie

What’s been the most meaningful part of working at the Trust?
Supporting the Trust staff. I get to use my gifts—structure, design, serving people, chatting with people, making the office welcoming—and that’s very rewarding. I’ve always liked it here, and everything fits really well with my gifts.

What are you going to miss most about working at the Trust?
The paycheck! (Just kidding!). Seriously, though, I will miss my coworkers so much because I’ve learned so much from them, and we have so much fun working together.

What’s something about the Trust that you want folks to know, that they might not know?
The main thing for me personally is how the staff has supported me. They’re so much fun to work with. They’re appreciative of me and the things I do for them, which makes my life a joy. It’s fun coming to work every day.

I have worked for three Trust presidents over my nearly 30 years, and many things about the office have changed. For example, when I started, everything was paper ledger. I had to use carbon paper. We had blue stationary and red stationary—one for each program area. We didn’t have voice mail!

All the program officer’s grant summaries were hand written in pencil and then I would type them up. I loved that because I could read each grant summary and learn about what was happening around the state. The staff works diligently on behalf of marginalized North Carolinians. For each grant review cycle, we would get over 200 grant applications that were mailed or driven in from all over the state. Because so many people drove their applications in, we’d have people’s cars break down, and they would have to send a courier to get their application in by 5 pm. The way things are submitted is just so much faster now.

When Alan Welch came, he was instrumental in getting work digitized.

When Hurricane Floyd hit, our advisory council members were calling and saying we had to do something, and the staff, with support from the Trustee, was able to get out emergency grants. From the beginning, the Trust has had a solid foundation of what’s right, and I’ve watched the work and staff grow over the years.

What’s a favorite memory during your time at the Trust?
There are so many great memories!

One of my favorite memories is going to a Healthy Places NC launch event in Halifax County because I didn’t get to travel out to communities often. To be invited to participate in the launch event was huge, and I got to see the program officers actually working in and with the community to make a difference.

I just loved witnessing that and then later in the evening having dinner with community members and staff. The interaction was so neat. That’s when we really doubled down and started asking community, “What do you need?” We were going to community more often to really understand their opportunities and challenges.

I’ve always loved the staff retreats and our social outings where we get to spend time together outside of work— holiday parties, Camel City BBQ, and the Graylyn scavenger hunt are a few highlights.

Why is North Carolina special to you?
I’m from Virginia, but I moved to North Carolina with my husband Larry in 1984 (when I was 33). I love the people, and I love that our roads take us through beautiful mountains or take us to the coast, and the Outer Banks.

What career advice do you have for someone just starting out?
I certainly have a few pieces of advice!

  1. Being prepared is the key to success. Research the place and the people you’re hoping to work with. If someone is coming to talk to you at work, find out who the person is and learn more about them.
  2. Be observant. Find a mentor. Make sure you have a sense of humor! Work harder than the people around you. And if you need help, ask for it!
  3. Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience. That’s from scripture, but it applied to my work at the Trust every day. If you can concentrate on those things and find the good in everybody, you will be happy. And nobody wants to work with an unpleasant person!