Tom Burns, Mentor
Susan is a unique and wonderful blend of big heart, entrepreneurial spirit, passion and dedication to her cause, and tireless energy to make a difference in the lives of forgotten children in Illinois. Her entrepreneurial spirit has led to creative programming and innovative use of technology from sophisticated databases to social media to webinars. Her commitment and tireless energy often lead to burning the late-night oil to find a bed in a stable home for a child DCFS can’t place. Susan’s volunteerism fills her “spare time” with service in Springfield on four statewide advisory councils. Susan sharing a story of rescuing a child and finding a loving family often has us in tears. It is a joy and inspiration to know and work with Susan McConnell!
Sharon Cobb, Friend
Susan McConnell: Confidant. Sister. Broad thinker. Problem solver. Creative force. A forever friend. We met when we joined the Barrington Newcomers group in 1988 and our firstborn sons were infants. We bonded and our sons became close friends. Our families grew through new births and in Susan’s case, adoptions. We celebrated life’s moments. I knew when I met Susan that we would be friends forever! Her creativity simply astounded me. She makes things happen. Her goals were big. Her heart was bigger.
As a project, Susan started a “Heart Gallery” of images of children waiting to be adopted. Her art drew her into the world of foster children. We have high hopes for our own children. Yet, some children do not even have a home with safety and stability. Susan is a treasure, a rare, beautiful friend!
Anne Lee, Friend
Susan is someone you want to know. “Boundless” defines her. She is infinite in her ambition, joy, zest, creative power, enthusiasm, unending love, and caring. Susan is unafraid. She believes that anything is possible to achieve within a person or an organization. Susan has the ability to make things happen. Photographer, writer, founder of Let It Be Us, working on her doctorate, gardening, being there for her family—always evolving. And the “wind beneath her wings?” Her husband Doug, who is Susan’s best friend, cheerleader, teammate, love of her life.
Susan makes me laugh, cry, wonder, listen, smile, and I always leave her saying, “Susan is such a character!” She’s interesting, unusual, unique, amusing, original, likeable, someone you don’t forget. I treasure the times we have celebrated life together. Her home is a haven for all, and her heart is hallowed ground for the many foster children looking for forever homes. I stand in awe of Susan’s will as it finds a way. Susan knows who she is and has the courage to be that person.
Ashley McConnell, Daughter
My mother Susan has always put others before herself. She takes care of the ones she loves with everything she has in her, every day. She loves to support whoever she can with what she has and always strives to uplift others with her determined and giving nature.
I am a budding marine scientist, living the dream on an island and growing shellfish for ecological restoration. I would not even be close to thriving as I am without my mother. From a very young age, she has always made it clear to me and my brothers that we can do whatever we want and be whoever we want in this life, and she would do everything she could to help us get there. I’ve always been very grateful for having grown up with such a supportive set of parents.
Doug McConnell, Husband
I knew Susan was special the first time we met, waiting for a train at the Barrington METRA station. We so enjoyed those train rides that we coordinated our schedules for the rides home, too. I was enchanted by her unique combination of empathy, creativity, and drive. We have four children together, three of whom came to us through adoption. Now as young adults, it is deeply satisfying to see that they all have embraced Susan’s important qualities.
It was the combination of those traits that led Susan to found Let It Be Us. Her photography opened her eyes to the dysfunction of the child welfare systems, and that the impact on those children of having impermanent homes put them at lifelong disadvantages. The stories are heartbreaking about what these children have endured.
Let It Be Us reflects Susan’s qualities. She has taken proven ideas from the business world and applied them to child welfare. They customize well-established tools of recruitment, education, coaching, database management, and customer service, all while remaining steadfast in their commitment to the mission of helping children. Susan’s ideas are quite literally changing the world.
Empathy. Creativity. Drive. Susan is utilizing them to complete her doctorate in Social Work. All of us—her family, Let It Be Us, and the children of the State of Illinois—are the beneficiaries of her gifts, and are living examples of the old expression of “being changed for good”. I am the luckiest of all, and I couldn’t be prouder of how the girl I met on the 7:11 a.m. train has become the mother of thousands.
Mack McConnell, Son
Susan is my biggest inspiration. Of course, I love her because she’s my mom, but as my role model, I admire her for working tirelessly to have a positive impact on the world and continuing to improve her mind. What she’s done with Let It Be Us gives me hope for the future. She’s laser-focused on helping kids get a more equitable start. These situations she navigates with kids are incredibly hard and ugly. For a lot of us, it’s just easier to ignore them, but Susan is just built differently. Seeing kids that are treated unfairly is her rocket fuel and she can’t do anything but help. She always reminds me that we can choose to focus on more important things and do it with more heart. Imagine a world where we had 100 Susans! The world would be better, and have a lot more Supertramp.