For twenty-four years, Susanna Spaulding, Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship at Colorado Mountain College, has helped shape the entrepreneurial culture in the Arkansas River Valley. She has been a valuable member of the college and community and is retiring June 2021, leaving a legacy of lifelong learning in Leadville and Chaffee County.
Celebrating a Fulfilling Career at Colorado Mountain College
In 1997, Susanna began her career at CMC as an adjunct instructor teaching accounting and management. Simultaneously, she also served as the part-time counselor for the college’s Small Business Development Center, a role that allowed her to support entrepreneurs in Salida, Buena Vista and Leadville.
In 2002, she accepted a full-time position with Colorado Mountain College as the Director of the Chaffee County Academic Center in Buena Vista. As part of this position, she oversaw a program that provided college and college prep courses to inmates at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility.
“We offered the full range of academic, technical, high school equivalent, English as Second Language to the community,” says Susanna, who holds an MBA in Corporate Finance from the New York University Stern School of Business and a PhD in Education with an emphasis in Community College Leadership from Colorado State University.
Susanna’s extensive educational experience was recognized again in 2007, when the dean of the Leadville campus asked her to develop the curriculum for an associate of applied science in entrepreneurship. A year later Colorado Mountain College and the state community college system approved the degree, and she became the program director and full-time faculty member for the next ten years.
“Lately I’ve taught business, management, and entrepreneurship full-time on the Leadville campus,” says Susanna, “Most recently, I have taught a course in entrepreneurship as part of a certificate in small business finance for students incarcerated at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex.”
Further, Susanna applied her research interest in higher education for incarcerated students and in civic engagement for college students by representing Colorado Mountain College at professional conferences and publishing in scholarly journals. She has presented at annual conferences of National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, Council for the Study of Community Colleges, American Educational Research Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education, and Mountain Plains Adult Education Association. Susanna’s journal articles appeared in New Directions for Community Colleges (2011) and The Qualitative Report (2009).
From French to Finance in New York City
Prior to moving to Colorado in 1997 and working for Colorado Mountain College, Susanna’s career ambition brought her around the world – including spending her junior year in Paris. After completing her undergraduate degree with a major in French language and literature at a liberal arts college in Ohio, she landed a job at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where she worked on a special project for the Under Secretary of Special Affairs.
After serving at the U.N., Susanna’s professional interests shifted from French to finance. She spent the next several years working in New York City as a Financial Analyst and Budget Manager for General Electric, Scholastic Inc., and the New York Police Department.
A true life-long learner, Susanna continued to take classes throughout her time in New York City, earning a Certificate in Financial Management at General Electric and a Masters in Business Administration from New York University.
International Entrepreneurial Experience
In 1988, Susanna joined the Peace Corps, where she worked as the Executive Director of a vocational training school in Ramotswa, Botswana, a village of about 17,000 people.
“There weren’t enough secondary schools there, so Botswana developed a network of training schools,” says Susanna, “Students learned math and English in the classrooms, and we also taught them construction, architectural drafting and carpentry. We emphasized experiential learning.”
When her two-year service with the Peace Corps was finished, Susanna was offered a local contract with the network of vocational training schools to continue her work in Botswana on a national level. For three more years, she served as a Senior Officer of Management and Development for the Ministry of Education in Botswana.
After five years in Botswana, Susanna was offered a job as an Associate Peace Corp Director in Bulgaria, where she met her husband, who was serving as a Peace Corp volunteer
“1993 was an interesting time to be in Bulgaria,” reflects Susanna, “The Berlin Wall had come down in 1989, and when the Iron Curtain fell Bulgarians went from a controlled economy to a market economy. The citizens of Bulgaria are very entrepreneurial. They were opening up their garages and were selling anything they could. We set up Small Business Development Centers in major metropolitan areas staffed by Peace Corp volunteers who trained local counterparts.”
Settling in the Arkansas River Valley
Upon returning from the Peace Corp, Susanna and her husband made the move to Colorado, starting in Denver and eventually settling in Salida. At the time, there were not many career opportunities for professionals in the community. She introduced herself
“I found out about the Colorado Mountain College Salida Small Business Development Center,” says Susanna, “I walked in and said, ‘I have an MBA, do you need anyone to teach business classes?’ They said yes and the rest is CMC history.”
In addition to a colorful career at Colorado Mountain College, Susanna has served the Upper Arkansas River Valley community through her involvement with several volunteer groups. Most recently, her work with the Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board and League of Women Voters Chaffee County has brought attention to political and historical preservation issues at the community level.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to be apart of the Colorado Mountain College Leadville and Chaffee County entrepreneurial community for the past 24 years,” says Susanna, “I’m not sure what retirement will bring, but I’ll continue to look for opportunities to positively impact my community, discover new ways to give back and make the world a better place.”