Meet Susan Colantuono, CEO and Founder of Leading Women in Charleston, RI


Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
As the CEO & Founder of Leading Women I have the privilege and challenge of running an organization that is 100% committed to helping women advance in their careers and helping organizations advance the women who work in them. I guide overall strategy and work with amazing women who run our local affiliates. Together we work to inspire, power and honor the success of women leaders in organizations and strengthen and align women’s initiatives, networks and affinity groups. Our overarching goal is to increase the numbers of women in senior  management and on corporate boards.

What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place?
I once read a quote that went something like this: you are called to the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger. I believe that Leading Women is the fulfillment of that calling for me. It enables me to reach out and support the success of other women – through mentoring relationships, live presentations, online resources and my new book, No Ceiling, No Walls: What women haven’t been told about leadership from career-start to the corporate boardroom. Since childhood I’ve worked for women’s equality and advancement – sometimes more directly than others. I don’t feel like I chose my profession, rather I believe that it chose me.

Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why?
On a very deep and important level, Leading Women supports the community by helping women live rewarding lives – and we help the community of women become more confident and stronger leaders. In addition to that, the structure of Leading Women allows me and our affiliate presidents to support the community in a variety of ways. We contribute time, money and or our efforts to not-for-profits thatinclude: local organizations that serve people with disabilities, Girls Inc – one of our presidents sits on the local board, Big Sisters of RI, and others.

What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
The biggest obstacle has been the total upheaval of my personal and professional life following a divorce. It taught me the importance of grieving, the power of forgiveness and how to live a life of joy even in difficult times.

From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
When I listen carefully, I’ve been inspired by my inner voice. Within my family, my grandmothers were both strong, feisty women who suffered no fools. In particular my maternal grandmother was proud of her heritage and the matriarch of her family. Their example countered all the limiting and discounting messages directed at women of my generation. Today, I am profoundly inspired by the courage, resourcefulness and impact of Nobel Peace Prize winners Wangari  Maathai and Aung San Suu Kyi. I’m also inspired by  the 15 women who are CEOs of FORTUNE 500 companies. Their diversity is a great message to me and to all women that there’s no single mold we have to fit in order to make it to the top of an organization.

How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization?
We have been blessed to be growing in this tough economy. Because we offer a highly cost-effective online solution to developing women leaders, new companies have found and are parterning with us.

What one thing would you like to learn this year?
Professionally – I’d like to learn how to keep my answers shorter whenI’m interviewed by the media. Personally, I’d like to learn how to more consistently recognize abundance and exude gratitude.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I’ll be spending a substantial part of my time working on leadership development with women in other countries.

What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
For fun and relaxation I love to ride my Paso Fino mare – there’s something fundamentally restorative about horseback riding in nature. I also love horse camping in Yellowstone National Park. Yoga, walking and reading are other pleasures as are time with my son, family and friends.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
If you have been called to leadership – by an inner drive and/or someone tapping you on the shoulder, heed the call. Positions of leadership offer awesome opportunities to positively touch the lives of others.

Which, if any social networking sites do you belong to?
About Leading Women ~ Leading Women is recognized for our singular and innovative focus on developing women leaders in organizations. Leading Women inspires, powers and honors the success of the women leaders through a variety of leadership programs, strategic networking events and other resources designed to provide what women need to succeed from career-start to C-suite and corporate boards.  For more information on events, membership or to become a sponsor, visit our website at or call 401-789-0441.