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Susan Madsen

Susan Madsen


  • Marketing and Strategy Department

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Professor Susan R. Madsen is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University. She is also a Visiting Fellow of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb (Croatia) and a former Fellow of The Leadership Trust Foundation in Ross-on-Wye, England. Dr. Madsen has been heavily involved for decades in researching the lifetime development of prominent women leaders and has personally interviewed a host of women university presidents, U.S. governors, and international leaders. She also studies other aspects of women and leadership more broadly. Overall, Dr. Madsen is considered one of the top global thought leaders on the topic of women and leadership, has authored or edited six books, and has published hundreds of articles, chapters, and reports. She was also the lead series co-editor for the Women and Leadership Book Series and co-edited the first three volumes: Women and Leadership in Higher Education (2014), Women as Global Leaders (2015), and Women and Leadership around the World (2015). Her latest book, The Handbook of Research on Gender and Leadership (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017) is known as a seminal work on women and leadership worldwide. She has also been the editor of special journal issues on the topics of work-life integration and women’s leadership in higher education. Dr. Madsen’s research has been featured in the U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Parenting Magazine, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and she is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Dr. Madsen is a sought-after speaker in local, national, and international settings. She has presented in NGO sessions at the United Nations (New York and Geneva) and has also presented in such places as the New York Times, the Argentina Parliament Palace, the House of Commons in England, the Lithuania President’s Palace, the U.S. State Department, USAID, and in many countries around the world. In addition to a host of speaking engagements in Utah and the U.S., she has given keynotes and presentations in Argentina, South Africa, Slovenia, India, China, Korea, Croatia, Austria, England, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, France, Italy, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates. She has conducted research in China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe and has facilitated women’s leadership development programs and seminars with women leaders from over 40 countries.

Dr. Madsen thrives on being a change agent in her own state of Utah. In 2009, she created the Utah Women and Education Initiative and led a research team to investigate what might be done to get more Utah women to attend college and then graduate. In 2011-2012, she worked with the Utah governor and his staff to create the Utah Women’s College Taskforce that resulted in a report to the state calling for change. She has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and generate resources that will help convince more Utah women to graduate from college. She continues to direct this Initiative today. Dr. Madsen also founded the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN) in 2010 and was recently recognized with special honors as she moved off the board in early 2019.

In 2013, Dr. Madsen founded the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP), which is focused on strengthening the impact of Utah girls and women through encouraging, developing, and advancing women in leadership. As part of that work, she has overseen the production and release of public research (accessible to the general population as well as policy makers, educators, and other stakeholders) including research and policy briefs, research snapshots, “What Can I Do? reports, and impact reports assessing the current status of women in Utah in key areas and making recommendations for social change. The UWLP also hosts or co- sponsors 20-30 events annually, each focused on engaging and instructing girls and women in a variety of ways and on numerous subjects, all with the end goal of inspiring and encouraging enhanced educational goals and leadership aspirations. These events are attended by many thousands each year, and others in Utah are influenced via speeches, press coverage, social media, and monthly newsletter listserv contacts. Professor Madsen’s efforts reach and influence an estimated 25,000 individuals in Utah annually. She also serves on or advises many Utah nonprofit and community boards, including Envision Utah, Silicon Slopes, Real Women Run, United Way of Utah County, People Helping People, Better Days 2020, Utah Financial Empowerment Coalition, Women’s Leadership Institute, and Junior League of Salt Lake. She has also been an advisor or trainer on women’s leadership to national organizations and associations like the American Council on Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Women, and others.

Susan founded the International Leadership Association’s (ILA) Women and Leadership Affinity Group and the Academy of Human Resource Development’s Leadership Special Interest Group. In 2013 and 2015 she chaired a global women and leadership conference for the ILA, which led to the publication of a seminal document that she compiled titled, “The Asilomar Declaration & Call to Action on Women and Leadership.” In May 2014 she also organized and hosted a colloquium for 70 scholars from around the world, titled “Advancing Theories of Women and Leadership,” and Drs. Madsen and Storberg-Walker continued to coordinate efforts and events to inspire and influence more scholars to develop rigorous women and leadership theory for the next five years. She and colleagues also lead discussions globally to help more women’s leadership scholars understand and get involved with public policy.

Widely recognized for her work, Dr. Madsen has most recently received the following awards and honors: 2019 Utah Girl Scout Champion Award—Life Skills, Utah Women in Higher Education Network’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award; Envision Utah’s 2017 Common Good Award; the Laura Bierema Excellence in Critical HRD Award 2017 from the Academy of Human Resource Development; the 2017 Influential Women in her 50s by the Utah Valley Magazine; 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota; 2016 YWCA Utah Outstanding Achievement Award in Education; Community Legacy Impact Award from People Helping People; 2016 “Distinguished Woman of the Year” by the Wasatch Chapter of AAUW; 2016 honoree of the Sundance Film Festival’s Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration; the 2014 “Women and Leadership Scholar of the Year” for the International Leadership Association; one of the 2014 Fabulous Forty in Utah Valley Magazine; one of the 2013 “30 Women to Watch” in Utah Business Magazine, and is a 2012 Salt Lake Chamber PathFinder Awardee. In 2007, she also received the prestigious Early Career Scholar Award from the Academy of Human Resource Development. Her commitment and work with service and engaged learning led to her selection as Utah Valley University’s “Civic Engaged Scholar of the Year” and “Outstanding Civic Engagement Award” by Utah Campus Compact. She also received the 2006 and 2015 Scholar of the Year Award for the Woodbury School of Business.

Dr. Madsen received her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in Work, Community, and Family Education with a specialization in human resource development. She has other degrees in exercise science/wellness and speech communication education and started her career many years ago as a middle school speech and debate teacher. She and her husband Greg have four young adult children (and two grandchildren), and she enjoys snowshoeing, golf, hiking, and traveling.

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