With more than 30 years of experience in supervision, leadership and global organizational development, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna Susan (Stigall) Gordon Barker ’79, of Fort Mill, S.C., has guided many people in growing and defining their careers.
Gordon Barker is a member of several professional associations, including the Black Data Processing Associates, Black Women’s Health Study, National Human Resources Association and Society for Human Resources Management.
As a global leadership development executive with General Electric Healthcare, she has been the recipient of several awards for her leadership skills.
These accomplishments have earned Gordon Barker a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, which will be presented at the annual Alumni Awards Celebration in conjunction with Homecoming in October.
Without the support of Joseph Mazza, emeritus UWO professor, Gordon Barker said she would not be where she is today in her career.
“Growing up in Milwaukee’s deep inner city, I was fortunate enough to meet Joseph Mazza,” Gordon Barker said. “ I was a kid in a very tough environment, and he took me under his wing and knocked the chip off my shoulder and made me want to do better than my circumstances.”
Gordon Barker said Mazza and her experiences at UWO gave her a different frame of reference that made her want to strive for more.
“It taught me that I can achieve anything with hard work, and it taught me that I am not my circumstances,” Gordon Barker said. “I have used this knowledge to strive and also to mentor others as I have grown in my professional walk.”
Lydia Smith, a former co-worker, said Gordon Barker has an ability to identify a person’s true potential and push them to see it.
“She makes herself available to help in any situation, but the true value of her coaching is that she will guide you through the tough situations, instead of tackling them for you,” Smith said. “She makes sure that every experience grows you as an individual and teaches you the lessons that you will leverage for the rest of your career.”
Along with her professional achievements, Gordon Barker also is proud of her accomplishments as a wife, mother of five and a friend. In her free time, she enjoys reading, Jazzercise, dancing and spending time with her grandchildren.
Andrew Severson, a current coworker, said Gordon Barker is the pinnacle of what UWO alumni should aspire to be.
“Her experiences at this institution were the foundation in setting her up for success,” Severson said. “She’s achieved beyond her aspirations and continues to see a multiplying impact of those successes in her career today.”
Gordon Barker said her time at UWO was more than just a place of education, but a place full of caring people who helped her strengthen her potential and grow.
“I think a great university is, yes, about the education, but, moreover, it is also about how that education is both delivered and received,” Gordon Barker said. “In UWO’s case for me, it was done with strength, direction and caring. What a winning combination!”
For more information about UWO alumni awards or to RSVP for the Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 21, visit uwosh.edu/alumni/alumni-awards or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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