Welcome to M2057’s Spotlight Series: In Her Own Words, which features dynamic, stylish and powerful women who inspire us. This month, we chatted with doctor and professor Susanna McColley.
Early in Susanna’s career, a hospital CEO told her that he saw her as a leader. And ever since, she has proven him right. Susanna built the pediatric pulmonology program at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital; today, her work continues in several important and complementary roles. She is a pediatric pulmonologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital, oversees clinical research at the hospital’s Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, is the associate director for child health at the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute, directs a training program in the NUCATS Institute for engineers and doctors pursuing research careers to improve child health, and is professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her natural talent for and joy in mentoring, training, and developing collaborations has led her to a fulfilling career during which she’s overseen major improvements in the lives of children living with cystic fibrosis. Work is a huge focus of her life, but when she’s off the clock, Susanna enjoys cycling and traveling with her husband, two adult sons, and family dog.
IN HER WORDS…
MY PERSONAL STYLE Practical with some fun and flair. Comfort is the first priority. Fabrics that are comfortable on the skin, with cuts and materials that allow me to move without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction, and ease of care are important. But comfort also means feeling confident in various professional and personal settings. A great fit and having pieces that are occasion-appropriate are essential, whether I’m running errands, at work or attending a formal event.
MY STYLE ICONS My style icons include Michelle Obama, who always looks terrific whether she’s gardening or at a black-tie affair. I also liked how she wore accessible clothing and promoted American designers as First Lady. I also admire but don’t emulate artists who break molds, like David Bowie in his 1970s costumes. Those were unexpected, gender-bending and had a long-term impact.
FAVORITE M2057 FEATURES It’s very well-tailored, but incredibly practical, packable, and machine-washable. There are always colorful pieces to mix up with black and gray basics. And I like the unexpected features, like asymmetrical hems.
CHALLENGES I’M FACING RIGHT NOW Healthcare and clinical research have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve delayed or recreated work for the safety of children, their families, and staff; telemedicine is an example. The pandemic has highlighted the significant disparities in health and healthcare in our country, which has been compounded by brutal police violence against Black people. I do research on health disparities and am involved in equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts, but it’s clear that incremental change is not enough. Personally, I miss seeing people and giving hugs right now.
WHAT I APPRECIATE ABOUT BEING A WOMAN Women are permitted to be intuitive and show emotions much more than men are; this is a great advantage, especially in these difficult times. I think women are more tenacious as friends and I am fortunate that some of my friendships have been continuous for over 50 years, but that I still find new ones.
HOW I’M TAKING CARE OF MYSELF RIGHT NOW I’ve focused on exercise, good nutrition, and taking time to breathe deeply---by itself or with yoga or stretching. Connecting with people I care about has also been really important.
WISDOM FOR MY YOUNGER SELF Don’t see your life as achieving a single goal. Allow yourself to continuously grow, learn, and explore.