The Conner Prairie Board of Directors and museum President and Chief Executive Officer Norman Burns today announce the selection of the next leader to build the museum’s global footprint and guide marketing, communications and community engagement initiatives.
Susana Suarez has been named vice president-chief marketing officer.
She joins the museum as a member of Ind. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s senior executive team, having served in several positions, including executive director of Holcomb’s strategic communications and the administration’s Neuro-Diagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center, a division of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration. She is past president and currently a second-term councilwoman on the Zionsville Town Council, which governs a suburban Indianapolis town with a population of nearly 30,000 residents.
“Susana brings international presence and global leadership skills to Conner Prairie,” Burns said. “She has served local, state and national government entities and diverse constituents. Her deep relationships with international business, trade, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies are unmatched. She is a true servant leader and all of those qualities are precisely what Conner Prairie needs to excel and grow diverse audiences and donor support.”
Early in her career, Suarez was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as assistant director for regional operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she managed regional deployment and communication in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. She made it a priority to focus on the Latino population affected by this tragedy. She was later named chief compliance officer for the Peace Corps.
In the private sector, Suarez has served as vice president of public affairs for Allegion, the Carmel, Ind.-based global company that produces residential and commercial security products. She held similar roles with international beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch Corp., and global building materials companies CEMEX and Holcim.
“I’m a passionate advocate for our communities and institutions in central Indiana,” Suarez said. “Conner Prairie is such a unique and wonderful part of our local and national heritage. It has great potential for strategic growth with the current visionary plans and unique programs and exhibits the museum continuously offers to our local, state, national and international communities. I am very excited to be a part of the team that will champion Conner Prairie with all of our current and future stakeholders.”
Locally, Suarez was appointed by former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and reappointed by now-U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to serve as vice chairwoman of the Commission of Higher Education.
She has served on the board of directors of numerous local, national and international organizations, including the Indianapolis Opera, International Center, Indiana Latino Expo, Gateway Foundation, Indiana International School, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in L.A., National Hispana Leadership Institute in Virginia, 100 Hispanic Women in New York, National Latino Communications Center in L.A., Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in L.A., East L.A. YMCA, Hispana Organized for Political Equality in L.A. and the Eastern Group Publications Foundation in L.A. She has also served on the advisory boards of the National Puerto Rican Coalition and the Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York.
The Indianapolis Business Journal recently named Suarez one of 2017’s Women of Influence. Her other honors include being named woman of the year by the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, receiving the president’s award for outstanding corporate leadership by the St. Louis Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, being named one of the top 50 Latinas in the U.S. El Diario and cited as one of the top Hispanics in the Bush-Quayle 1992 campaign by the Hispanic Business Magazine.
Suarez has also served as executive director of the Hispanic International Trade Council and deputy director for political coalitions with the Republican National Committee.
A U.S. citizen born in Mexico City, Suarez was raised in Mexico until age 15 where she made the Mexican archery team for the 1984 Olympics in L.A. Her family’s move to Cleveland, Ohio, prohibited her involvement in the games. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State University and is a graduate of the senior management program at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
She and husband Juan Francisco live in Zionsville, Ind., and have two young children.
Spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 400,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.
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Conner Prairie’s mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiences. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its more than 1,000 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call (800) 966-1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate and volunteer. Conner Prairie is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Flickr and YouTube.