Wahine Forum 2015 Keynotes

August, 2015

Susan L. Colantuono
CEO of Leading Women


Leading Women is one of the world’s premier consulting firms supporting corporate initiatives to advance women and close the leadership gender gap. She founded and ran the Women’s Institute for Leadership at Bryant University from 2002 – 2010, is the author of No Ceiling, No Walls: What women haven’t been told about leadership,  Make the Most of Mentoring and innumerable articles about the leadership gender gap, leadership, and women’s advancement.

Internationally known as an expert in women’s leadership development, gender dynamics and hidden gender bias, Susan has spoken on these subjects for the Global Women’s Leadership Summit, WIN Conference, National Association of Women Lawyers and many other conferences and corporations. Her TEDxBeaconStreet talk on Closing the Leadership Gender Gap was featured as Today’s Talk on the TED.com website, an honor given to fewer than 1% of all TED Talks from around the world. The Talk has gone viral and has millions of views.

For over 20 years, she has specialized in leadership development solutions for leaders at all levels. Through coaching for leadership excellence, leadership team building and leadership development programs, Susan’s clients have enhanced their business analysis, strategic thinking, visionary leadership and interpersonal skills and produced high impact results. Susan was recognized for her contributions in this area when Providence Business News named her 2008 Business Woman Ally/Mentor of the Year. When asked what leadership is, Susan replies, “Leadership is about using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others.”

She has advised women leaders in Alcatel-Lucent, Amgen, Digitas, GTECH, HP, IPG, Kimberly-Clark, MassMutual, MFS, NYLife, Pfizer, Sodexo, Turner Construction and many others how to use their strengths to leverage relationships, achieve strategic goals and lead for value creation. Her proprietary leadership framework and groundbreaking research produce extraordinary outcomes. As a thought leader in the role that gender dynamics play in talent decisions, Susan has worked with managers and executive teams around the world to reduce barriers to women’s advancement. And her cutting edge research into the unintended bias that can be embedded in talent and performance management systems has enabled companies to deliver more gender-neutral messages about leadership, performance and career advancement. Her clients describe her as intuitive, practical, inspiring, trustworthy, creative and quick to understand organizational issues and opportunities.

Susan brings a unique blend of business savvy, experience and strategic thinking to her work. She has consulted to organizations and/or coached leaders in the manufacturing, petrochemical, hospitality, financial, telecommunications, high tech, professional services, higher education, not for profit, and healthcare sectors in addition to local, state and federal government agencies. Susan is an engaging, dynamic and warm speaker who draws on her many years as a consultant to create unique and motivating speak-inars™ — a powerful blend of shared knowledge, wisdom and experience combined with illuminating interactive activities. She has presented before groups including the MASS Conference for Women, W.I.N. Conference (EU), New England Human Resource Association, the OD Network, Bryant University Women’s Summit,  Women in Construction, Brown University’s Women in Academic Medicine, the Hartford Insurance Group’s Drive to Succeed Conference and many others.

Susan’s former positions include Founding Partner of The DELTECH Group, VP of Media Education for Markus Communications, Partner in The Consulting Group of Washington and Founding Partner in DCG, Inc. She has been a volunteer leader for the Society for Human Resource Management where she has served as the State Director for the Rhode Island State Council of SHRM and as Director for Professional Development. She serves as one of 2 RI delegates to Vision 2020 a decade-long project to advance gender equality and is a committee member for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island’s RI-GAP Project (a non-partisan effort to increase the number of women appointed by the governor to cabinet level positions, boards and commissions).

Susan is also an internationally known expert on Paso Fino horses with articles published in Conquistador, Paso Fino Horse World, Horseman’s Yankee Pedlar, Horse Illustrated and other equine publications. Her articles have been translated into Spanish, French and German. She has studied riding “from the horse’s point” of view under Harry Whitney and equine biomechanics with Dr. Deb Bennett. Drawing on the leadership lessons that can come “straight from the horse’s mouth,” Susan created Pioneering Leadership™ and Can You Lead a Horse to Water?™. Both workshops use work with horses for teaching women essential lessons about leadership.

Susan is the author of two other books. Build Your Career — a guide for using the job you have to get the job you want — was featured in Money magazine and hailed as “a comprehensive guide for charting your career.” Her Make Room for JOY! has been described as “heartware and software for the soul.” Susan raised her son on the Rhode Island shore; she works, writes, rides, practices yoga and currently resides in Rincon, Puerto Rico.



Suzanne Townsen
National Managing Partner Human Resources, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility at KPMG


Sue began her career with KPMG in the Orange County Office in 1986, was admitted into the partnership in 2000 and concurrently appointed as Partner in Charge for Audit/Advisory Learning and Development. In 2003 Sue transitioned into the Risk Consulting practice and in 2012 was appointed as the Regional Advisory Lead for the East and the Advisory Leader for New York City. Sue has 28 years of audit and risk management experience, has served as KPMG’s Global Lead Partner for a Fortune 100 insurance company and has assisted clients and Boards with architecting programs to meet governance, regulatory and business requirements. Sue is currently the NMP HR, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility.  Sue works with the HR Vice Chair and supports all HR activities including HR strategy and planning; compensation and benefits; recruiting; training; succession planning; and performance management. She also provides the strategic direction to align philanthropic partnerships, environmental best practices, and diversity objectives to the firm’s commercial strategy.

Sue has been recognized Diversity Inc. as A Woman Worth Watching and as an honoree of the YWCA Tribute to Women in Industry.  Sue is a frequent speaker on women’s initiatives and is passionate about helping other women, believing strongly that we all have an obligation to pay it forward.

Board and Other Activities
KPMG’s Diversity Advisory Board (Chair 2015 – present)
Board of Trustees, KPMG Foundation (member 2015 – present)
KPMG’s Women’s Advisory Board, a board devoted to working with KPMG’s leaders to advance gender diversity (Chair 2013 – 2015)
KPMG LLP Board’s Nominating Committee (member 2010 through 2012)
Women Corporate Directors Thought Leadership Council  (2015 Chair, 2014 member)
W.O.M.E.N. in America member and mentor
International Women’s Forum member
Civic Consulting USA, an organization specializing in public-private pro bono partnerships to help government leaders tackle their toughest issues (Board Member 2013 – present)
Women’s Initiative for Small Business a not for profit dedicated to helping under-privileged women start and successfully run businesses (Board Member 2011 – 2014)

Graduated from Fordham University in 1997, earning an MS in Human Resources Education. Graduated from California State University Long Beach in 1987, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business with an Accounting Concentration.
Licensed CPA, California and New York State and member of AICPA and Institute of Internal Auditors.