Tag Archives: Women in business

A Tribute To Susan Hazell

We’re wishing a fond farewell to one of our most valued colleagues, Director of Development, Susan Hazell, who will be retiring from Ridley this summer. Susan first came to our school in 1979 to teach French and Spanish; returned in 1984 as a teacher and swimming coach, becoming the official Housemaster of Arthur Bishop East the following year; and, in later years, made an enormous impact as Ridley’s Director of Development. For decades, Susan has been an integral part of our community, and we couldn’t be more grateful for her experience, leadership, vivacity, and warmth.

We asked Susan’s close friend and former colleague, Vera Wilcox—another long-time member of our community—to reflect on Susan’s career in Canada’s independent school system—and to give us a peek into what’s next. But if you’ve met Susan, you’ll know that wherever this next stretch of the journey takes her, it’s almost certain she’ll be smiling.


Sue and I first crossed paths in January 1980 when, at the suggestion of her tennis-playing fiancé Mike Hazell ’73, she came to take lessons at White Oaks Tennis and Racquet Club, where I was the tennis pro. I had met Mike a few years earlier, when my husband and I played tennis with him in Stratford.

“My first impressions include how Sue’s smile lit up her entire face, making me feel great just being around her; her eagerness to try something new—and how hard she worked to learn the skills; and her strong determination to excel.”

My first impressions from those lessons include how Sue’s smile lit up her entire face, making me feel great just being around her; her eagerness to try something new—and how hard she worked to learn the skills; and her strong determination to excel. I soon realized these were not just impressions, but Sue’s inherent essence, the enthusiasm which she brought to everyone and everything in her life. In 1984, Mike was hired to run Sports Ridley, and the couple returned as teachers and housemasters of Arthur Bishop East. The move rekindled what came to be a lifelong friendship and, for me, started a period of mentorship, as we worked together in independent schools for more than 35 years.

“Teacher, coach, housemaster, parent, administrator, mentor, friend – through her warmth, enthusiasm and her strong sense of doing what is right, Susan Hazell’s contribution, not only to Ridley but to independent schools across Canada, is immeasurable.”

— Trish Loat

As Sue moved through her career—at Ridley, The Bishop Strachan School, and later at Lakefield College School—she held a variety of leadership roles, ranging from Head of Residence, to Dean of Students, to Assistant Head of School Life—always dealing with staff, students and their families. In each role, she brought with her a curiosity and love of learning (Sue is a voracious reader and researcher), sincere listening skills, and a passion for helping others to improve and get the most out of their experience in their environment.

Sue provided opportunities for people to voice their ideas, concerns and dreams, and she would always listen intently. She made them feel validated when she integrated this information into a vision, presented the group with a plan to evaluate, and then looked to each member for ownership—not only during the plan’s implementation, but its success. A consummate team player and leader, Sue always stood in front of, beside, and behind her team, whether it was made up of students, families or staff. Her passion for teaching continued with her involvement in the Independent School Management (ISM) Summer Institute, where she worked as a workshop leader alongside Ellie Griffin, presenting sessions such as “Balance Your Contrasting Roles as Dean of Students” and “Power and Influence: Women and Leadership”. 

“Thinking about my relationship over many, many years with Susan, reaching back to when I was a student at Ridley, babysitting the boys, housesitting the pets, working for her at Bishop Strachan School, working in the Hazell family business, connecting with Susan in a variety of professional roles, and recently in her capacity as head of Development, simply brings a smile to my face.

Every experience has felt like its own little adventure full of friendship, optimism, energy, laughter and purpose. Susan lifts up everyone and everything she touches with humility and heart. I am one of many women who have benefitted from her mentorship and friendship over the years.”

— Georgina H. Black ’85

Sue’s role changed in the early 2000s, when she became the Executive Director of CAIS, working with heads of schools from across Canada. Three years later, her career took another turn when she was invited to become the first Executive Director of Advancement at Collingwood School in Vancouver. Both moves were built on a solid foundation of knowledge and deep understanding of the independent school system—along with her valuable hands-on experience working with staff, students, families, and alumni. And, along the way, Sue took courses in fundraising and strategic planning, earning her IAP-S and CFRE certifications. Because she was such an effective and inspirational teacher, Sue continued to teach at ISM—now as a member of the Advancement Academy, where she worked with mentees developing action plans for capital campaigns and strategic planning.

“For over forty years, Susan has devoted her professional life to advancing independent schools, especially Ridley. I’m personally grateful for her guidance and the ways she has bolstered our school’s fundraising over the past six years. Susan’s ties to our community run deep and her daily presence on campus will be missed. I have no doubt she will remain connected to the RCA as she enters into a much-deserved retirement.” ­

— Ed Kidd, Headmaster

This period led Sue full circle back to Ridley College in 2014, when she became the school’s Director of Development. During her time at Ridley, Sue has not only worked in Development, but has shared decades of experience in helping to develop a number of the school’s areas, such as residential life, student leadership and more. 

Not one to sit still, in addition to tennis, walking, hiking, biking, spinning, and golf, Sue has now added curling and rowing to her ever-growing list of activities. With her retirement, not only will Sue now have plenty of time for these active pursuits, but she’s looking forward to spending time with family and her boys; connecting with friends near and far; planting, working and harvesting her garden; travelling; and any other new adventures that come her way. Sadly, Ridley’s loss is everyone else’s gain!

I’m sure I speak for many when I say, thank you, Sue, for sharing your passion, your wisdom, your joy in mentoring others, and your life’s journey with all of us. 

— Vera Wilcox

Ridleians are Inspired at Born to Lead Conference

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

– Jack Welch

Ridley strives to instill, in each student, the confidence to passion and the resiliency needed to overcome obstacles and forge onwards with determination. Students are encouraged to accept new challenges, risk failure and develop grit. We hope that with these skills, our Ridleians will go on to lead flourishing lives.

On April 18th, 2016, four Ridleians and their chaperone, Ms. Wendy Pak, spent the day among empowering women at the Born to Lead Youth Leadership Conference (Born to Lead or B2L Conference). While at the conference, these students were motivated to pursue their goals and were given the tools needed to achieve and succeed in their post-secondary careers. Closely aligning with Ridley’s values, this event would show our students that with determination comes success. Sandy Chen, Aribi Iwo-Brown, Lotus Liu and Helen Wang are all International Baccalaureate One (IB1) students, and were keen to attend the conference.

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“It [was] a great opportunity for our aspiring female business entrepreneurs to learn from women leaders in the business.”

– Ms. Wendy Pak

Born to Lead presents an opportunity for young women to explore the possibilities that await them in the world of business. Geared towards emerging leaders and entrepreneurs, attendees can participate in an array of workshops. Some of which focus on leadership and personal development, and some that provide insight on potential career paths. These young leaders also have the chance to interact with delegates from the Women in Leadership and Business Conference and listen to an inspiring keynote address.

This year’s keynote speaker was six-time Olympic medalist and mental health advocate, Clara Hughes. Clara shared her story; from her time as an high-performance athlete, to her struggles with mental health. Although the Ridleians in attendance had never heard Clara’s story, her moving journey impacted them greatly.

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“I really liked Clara Hughes’s speech. She [taught] us that women should stand up, be strong and keep going. I really enjoyed my time at the conference.”

– Lotus Liu ‘17

In the afternoon, our Ridleians sat down with some of the delegates from the Women in Leadership and Business Conference. This session, titled “Perspectives”, was meant to bridge the gap between different age groups and career stages. Students who are just discovering the world of business and leadership were able to discuss topics (such as generation stereotypes and workplace projects) with established professionals. It was an opportunity for both groups to gain insight and inspiration from one another.

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“One thing I learned at the conference is ‘you are the only one who can determine your limits.’ So, never stop; keep pursuing.”

– Helen Wang ‘17

The Born to Lead conference was a place to discover the opportunities that await those who are willing to work to reach their dreams.

“We got to meet some amazing, accomplished and inspiring people like Clara Hughes. We learned so much about our next steps which we didn’t already know. It was such an enlightening opportunity.”

– Aribi Iwo-Brown ‘17

Ridley is proud to be a co-educational school, with 47% of our student population made up of females. With our student-led groups such as Positive Space and Days for Girls our students can be a part of the global conversation about gender equality. With events such as Born to Lead, our students can discover the importance of resiliency, grit, determination and confidence.

As the annual Born to Lead Youth Leadership Conference came to a close, our Ridleians left feeling more confident and motivated to pursue a career in business. We hope that they keep this experience and the lessons they learned with them as they travel down their career paths.