10 Questions or Less for Sue Bennett


10 Questions or Less is a new feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Sue Bennett, Learning Manager at Philanthropy Northwest.

1. You’ve put in a lot of work on the development of the Essential Skills and Strategies for New Grantmakers materials. Can you tell me a little about your involvement?

Credit goes mostly to those who created the ESS curriculum (Judie Donaldson, Vicki Rosenberg, Bea Boccalandro, and others).  I got involved early on, but at the vastly easier stage of improving on already-existing materials.  Since my professional background is in adult education, I viewed the curriculum with the lens of an adult learner and made revisions to make the program as engaging and robust as possible. Credit also goes to my amazing local trainers who walked though each page with me, adding their own flavor, perspective and experience, so that it became “ours”, specific to the Northwest.  The skeleton is very good; we dressed it up to suit our region, members, and interests.  We still change it a bit every time, to keep it relevant and timely, and because we are also continually learning.

2. Walk me through a typical day in the office at PNW.

There is no typical day! This week I had a program for family foundations featuring Bill Gates Sr. and Ginny Esposito (from National Center for Family Philanthropy), discussing “Legacy”.   Two days later, I held our “Philanthropic Thought Leaders Speakers Series” featuring our own thought leader, Carol Lewis (PNW’s  CEO) outlining what we’ve learned about giving in the Northwest from our Trends report.  In between, I met with a potential member, created several zoomerang surveys, began planning for a Capacity Building Learning Circle event that will be video teleconferenced to 9 locations in 5 states, and reviewed a website tutorial that we are piloting next week.  I forgot to water my plant.  Oh, and I’m part-time.

3. Part of your responsibilities includes bringing in national experts to speak to your members. Is there anyone you’ve featured at a recent program that you’d recommend?

Ginny Esposito is a fabulous speaker.  She has great stories and examples.

4. What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

My title is Learning Manager (it was Training Manager, until someone told me that only dogs want to be trained).  The best part of my job is that I am continually learning, with others who want to learn too.  What is better than that?

5. What’s one thing you do in your position that the Forum network can help with?

I appreciate your help in identifying, promoting and making available the good work of others (through the blog, list serve, and calendar) so that we can share resources and what works.  In my case, I’m always interested in learning about effective programs, adult learning techniques and strategies, online tools for learning, ways to extend learning before and after the session…


6. You’re also active in a number of charitable and civic organizations such as the Washington Women’s Foundation, Mercer Island School District, and the Reed Coleman Family Foundation. What is it about these organizations that drive you to support them?

My passion is building community and connecting people.  That thread is common in all my activities and one of the things I love most about PNW.  We find all kinds of ways to connect people and resources to join forces and work together.

7. You like to travel. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited?

That is too hard.  I’ve lived in Thailand, New Zealand, France and Ireland, all incredibly beautiful places.  I recently got back from Turkey, which is exceptionally diverse and beautiful.  This is making me want to go on another trip!

9. Anything else you want to tell us about?

I feel so lucky to be a part of this philanthropic community, where we get to spend our days thinking about how to make the world a better place, in partnership with others who are eager to learn and create positive change.  Thanks to all of you who are a part of this work!

If you’d like to recommend someone for a profile through 10 Questions or Less, contact Dan Brady.

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4 responses to “10 Questions or Less for Sue Bennett

  1. What an impressive woman!

  2. Great interview with a very energetic person.

  3. Great interview of a very energetic woman

  4. Sue Bennett is a super star. PNW is so fortunate to have her. What a fantastic programs she manages and all for the purpose of sharing ‘best and better philanthropic practices” to improve our communities. Great questions were asked in the interview and my goodness, Sue Bennett is
    such an interesting person!

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