Susan Wissink

Director, Fennemore Craig

I’d say that it’s all about my actions and not just my words — I’m a natural leader and mentor and, as a mother of three, I enjoy nurturing people and helping others.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

Honoring achievement is important because it highlights the good work that people in our business community are doing and, hopefully, inspires others to contribute as well. Recognizing the good that a community champion has done highlights for our entire community all the different ways to help others. Whether it be breaking glass ceilings, starting a nonprofit to help the less fortunate, consistently motivating others to be successful, or just rolling up their sleeves to build a garden for the homeless, members of our business community make a difference every single day. 

Most of these leaders do this work because they truly want to help others, not because they seek an award. Yet these awards allow our business community to celebrate their work and applaud each other for jobs well done. Being a recipient of a Woman of Achievement Award is humbling because of the inspirational success of the other award recipients. Their achievement makes me want to go out and do more for our community!

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

I believe that all professionals, especially women, should recognize that creativity is part of success. I often mentor younger women at my firm as they navigate work and family, and let them know that it is possible to do both but isn’t always easy. 

When my children were young, I found client development events that included children so that my clients could bring their young children, too. I chose nonprofit work, such as the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and Childsplay, that appealed to my children and not just me so that I could include them in activities. 

The traditional path to professional success often doesn’t work for everyone, so being creative about defining their own success will lead to a happier balance.

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

Young people in Arizona have faced unique challenges that many of us did not face in our childhoods. Our country is more divided than it has been in years, and they have grown up with political discord and vitriolic language becoming the norm. On top of that, they have spent the last two and a half years navigating COVID-19, and, while they will be a nimble generation, they also missed out on a lot of important social growth and in-person learning. 

If I had a magic wand, I would change the political rhetoric, remove the hate, and move our state toward a place where people of all races, genders, nationalities, religions and sexual orientation can thrive. We should teach our children empathy, help them navigate social and educational issues that they missed during COVID, and help them to be future leaders. 

The business community is well positioned to help in this way, and our business leaders should seek opportunities to teach classes at local high schools or universities or volunteer for organizations that help children. Each person can make a difference in the life of a young child, and we need to do it now!

About Me:

I have been with Fennemore Craig for 26 years, and currently serve on the firm’s management committee. Throughout my career, I have always mentored younger attorney and used my legal skills to help others through community service and pro bono work. I have served on the boards of the Arizona Humane Society, PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers), the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and Childsplay, among others. With each organization, I have been privileged to serve as the board chair and/or president. My greatest success is raising three amazing children with my husband, Mike, who are now spreading their wings in college.

In Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? Faculty member for Arizona professionalism course for new members (which served as a great refresher for me)
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Collaborative
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Networking
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Perseverance
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Protecting our natural resources and combatting global warming.

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