As president and CEO of Telamon Corp., a multi-state organization, Suzanne Orozco ensures that she hires and supports competent leaders who can design and implement programs that change the lives of individuals and families. “I want to ensure that staff on the front line have the resources needed to focus on serving the community, which takes the support of a strong board and corporate team,” she said. Learn more about Suzanne in this Five Questions with an Agency Leader…feature.
Do you own any pets?
My husband and I don’t have children but consider our dogs family members. We believe in rescuing animals and have had wonderful pets through the Southeast German Shepard Rescue and the American Belgian Malinois Rescue. We were a failed foster home for our current adoptee, Havok, who is a high-energy, sometimes unpredictable, but lovable Belgian Malinois. In December we moved to a new home with over two acres, and he loves having the space to run.
Describe yourself in one word.
Though not an adjective, I would say ‘Integrity.’ Early in my career, I made the call to be part of a small group of whistleblowers to stop what turned out to be embezzlement in an organization. That experience solidified for me that fiscal integrity for an organization is an absolute necessity and shaped my approach to how I treat people and how we serve the community.
What drew you to non-profit work?
While working towards my master’s degree in social work, I opted to specialize in administration and program evaluation rather than clinical work, and never looked back. I love that I can use my social work skills on a larger platform to impact communities. It’s great that we are now seeing businesses and other large corporations that are more socially conscious, but I love what I do and couldn’t imagine changing at this stage of my life.
If you could live and work anywhere in the world for six months, where would you go?
I would love to see what life is like in a country like Switzerland, where there is a strong economy, to better understand how various family and social supports that are built into that economy can raise everyone. My other choice would be Guatemala because my husband is a first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, and I would love to have a better understanding of what living versus visiting there is like. Since Telamon works with so many Mexican and Central American immigrants, it would also better my understanding of the people we serve.
What are some lessons learned that you would share with women trying to navigate their professional and personal lives?
My best advice would be to connect with a good mentor and to trust yourself. Having someone who can see your strengths and help you develop needed skills is invaluable, especially early in your career. It is important to have a strong professional and personal network that can cheer you on and from which you can learn, use as a sounding board, and at times, ask for help. But ultimately, no one knows what you need or how far you can push yourself better than you. Don’t let others limit you, but also be willing to work to build the skills to advance your career. Don’t expect to jump from entry-level to CEO in one step and be successful.