Susan R. Madsen


Professor Susan R. Madsen is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University. She is also a Visiting Fellow of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb (Croatia), a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Lancaster Leadership Centre in the U.K, and a Fellow of The Leadership Trust Foundation in Ross-on-Wye, England. Dr. Madsen has been heavily involved for over a decade in researching the lifetime development of prominent women leaders and has personally interviewed a host of women university presidents, U.S. governors, and international leaders. She also studies other aspects of women and leadership more broadly. Overall, Susan has authored or edited six books and has published well over 100 articles, chapters, and reports. She is also the lead series co-editor for the Women and Leadership Book Series with Information Age Publishing and co-edited the first three volumes: Women and Leadership in Higher Education (2014), Women as Global Leaders (2015), and Women and Leadership around the World (2015). Her next book, The Handbook of Gender and Leadership (Edward Elgar Publishing) is coming out in April. In 2012 she was the editor of two special issues of the journal Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR) on the topic of women and leadership in higher education.

Professor Madsen is a sought-after speaker in local, national, and international settings. She has presented in NGO sessions at the United Nations (New York and Geneva) and has also presented in such places as the New York Times, the Argentina Parliament Palace, the House of Commons in England, and in many countries around the world. She travels to the UK annually as an invited delegate along with other top international leadership scholars for a high profile two-day Leadership Think Tank. In addition to a host of speaking engagements in the U.S., Dr. Madsen has given keynotes and/or presentations in Argentina, Slovenia, China, Korea, Croatia, Austria, England, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Switzerland,  and the United Arab Emirates. In past years she has conducted research in China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe and has managed leadership development programs with women leaders from over 25 countries.

Susan thrives on being a change agent in her own state. In 2009, she created the Utah Women and Education Initiative and led a research team and over 100 individuals to investigate what might be done to get more Utah women to attend college and then graduate. In 2011-2012, she worked with Governor Herbert and his staff to create the Utah Women’s College Taskforce that resulted in a report to the state calling for change. She has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and generate resources that will help convince more Utah women to graduate from college. She continues to direct this Initiative today. In 2013, Dr. Madsen also created the Utah Women & Leadership Project, which is focused on encouraging, developing, and advancing women in leadership within Utah. She has written and released nine research and policy briefs and five Utah Women Stats research snapshots through this Project on issues related to strengthening the impact of Utah women. In addition, Dr. Madsen founded the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN) in 2010 and continues to serve on that board. She also serves on several other Utah nonprofit and community boards, including the United Way of Utah County, Real Women Run, and the Women’s Leadership Institute.

In recent years, Susan founded the International Leadership Association’s (ILA) Women and Leadership Affinity Group and the Academy of Human Resource Development’s Leadership Special Interest Group. In 2013 and 2015 she chaired a global women and leadership conference for the ILA, which led to the publication of a seminal document that she compiled titled, The Asilomar Declaration & Call to Action on Women and Leadership. In May 2014 she also organized and hosted a colloquium for 70 scholars from around the world, titled “Advancing Theories of Women and Leadership,” and Susan continues to coordinate efforts and events to inspire and influence more scholars to develop rigorous women and leadership theory.  

In addition to a host of awards and recognitions, Susan has most recently been recognized as the recipient of the 2016 YWCA Utah Outstanding Achievement Award in Education, Community Legacy Impact Award from People Helping People, a 2016 Distinguished Alumni recognition from the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as the 2016 “Distinguished Woman of the Year” by the Wasatch Chapter of AAUW, a 2016 honoree of the Sundance Film Festival’s Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration, the 2015 Woodbury School of Business Faculty Scholar Award, and the 2014 “Women and Leadership Scholar of the Year” for the International Leadership Association, one of the 2014 Fabulous Forty in Utah Valley Magazine, one of the 2013 “30 Women to Watch” in Utah Business Magazine, and is a 2012 Salt Lake Chamber PathFinder Awardee. In 2007 she received the prestigious Early Career Scholar Award from the Academy of Human Resource Development. Her commitment and work with service and engaged learning at the local level led to her selection in past years as Utah Valley University’s “Civic Engaged Scholar of the Year” and “Outstanding Civic Engagement Award” by Utah Campus Compact. She also received the 2006 and 2015 Scholar of the Year Award for the Woodbury School of Business.

Dr. Madsen received her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in Work, Community, and Family Education with a specialization in human resource development. She has other degrees in exercise science/wellness and speech communication education and started her career many years ago as a middle school speech and debate teacher. Susan and her husband Greg have four young adult children (and one grandson), and she enjoys racquetball, soccer, snowshoeing, golf, and hiking.


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