LEDA Leadership Conversation: Suzanne Rivera


This week, LEDA welcomed Dr. Suzanne Rivera as our guest for a Women’s History Month session of our Leadership Conversation series. She shared some fascinating insights with our LEDA Scholars, Career Fellows, and alumni stemming from her experience as a Latinx woman and as the President of Macalester College. She also is a Professor of Public Affairs, and her scholarship focuses on research ethics and science policy.

LEDA Leadership Conversation - Suzanne Rivera
LEDA Executive Director Lamont Gordon and Leadership Conversation guest Dr. Suzanne Rivera

Dr. Rivera was born in Queens and is from an immigrant Cuban family. She had a difficult upbringing but was always focused on working hard to challenge Latinx stereotypes and achieve her dreams. In the course of her career, she has written numerous journal articles and book chapters, and she co-edited the book Specimen Science. Her research has been supported by the NIH, the NSF, the DHHS Office of Research Integrity, and the Cleveland Foundation.

Our community also had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A with her at the end of the conversation. We are very grateful for the leadership tips and stories she shared about her experiences and journey.

On success: “I allowed myself to dream to go to a highly selective college – applied Early Decision to Brown. At first, it was super-hard, and it took me a while to find my way, but once I did, it was the perfect fit. I just started to find my people on campus. I had to make a new table for myself on this campus. I figured out a way to belong in that place.”

Suzanne Rivera

On leadership: “Putting yourself out there and demonstrating your trustworthiness to others is the first step to great leadership.”

On being a Latinx woman in a position of leadership: “I almost always assume that people are underestimating me because I have been stereotyped many times in my life. It’s complicated because I do feel a certain pride that my pushing this door open will help others like me.”

Advice for LEDA Scholars/Fellows/alumni:

  • Express empathy. One lesson from this year is that we are all capable of creativity, adaptability, and ingenuity.
  • Practice patience. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. We can enjoy togetherness again if we are patient.
  • Utilize your creativity. I hope we will take all the creativity that we learned this year that is more equitable and fair to enjoy togetherness.
  • Many thanks to Dr. Rivera for sharing her journey with the LEDA Community!

    Published April 1, 2021

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