Bard, Business Entrepreneur and Ballroom Aficionado
'83 Executive MBA
Janice Sussman is not a woman who lets moss grow beneath her feet. In fact, those feet are moving even faster these days, since she founded Dance Writers Associates, a firm that explores the world of ballroom dance through literature, poetry, photography and art.
Sussman grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and studied at Fairfield University where she earned a bachelor's degree in English. Years later, she realized she had a passion and keen aptitude for business and decided to pursue her Executive MBA at the University of New Haven. In her role as a business entrepreneur, she's held executive positions at several Connecticut corporations – vice president at City Trust, vice president at Schine Rosenbaum Food Distributors and as an insurance executive, chartered life underwriter and founder of Schmitt-Sussman Enterprises. Sussman also has owned and operated an advertising specialty company, Impact Associates, with her daughter Deborah Sessel.
"Getting my Executive MBA at the University of New Haven allowed me to interact with business leaders in a situation where we gained from our varying backgrounds and experience and were able to incorporate the learning in a practical manner," says Sussman. "My education at UNH gave me the tools and confidence to meet the challenges I faced in a variety of career paths."
Family oriented and community minded, Sussman has served as president of the Boys Village in Milford, Conn. (now the Boys and Girls Village) and as a guardian of the American Technion Society, an organization that supports the world-renowned Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Stan Sussman, her husband of 48 years describes her as someone who has an extraordinary passion for life and for serving others.
"I have always believed that true success is measured by the role we play not only as individuals but in our relationship to the greater community," she says.
It is that passion that has fueled her efforts to educate the public about the horrors of genocide, including funding trips to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. for UNH Professor Mario Gaboury and students in his Oskar Schindler Humanities class.
"Because the horrors of the Holocaust took place in my lifetime with a world that did not cry out in rage, I have chosen to work on Steven Spielberg's SHOAH Foundation project in an effort to document the survivors' stories. UNH has given me the opportunity to make a further impact by supporting the Oskar Schindler program where students explore the principles of good human behavior with the hope they will exhibit this behavior while making critical decisions," Sussman says.
Sussman is the author of Spaces, a book of poetry written after a life altering Holocaust history trip to Poland and Israel, and the "Plan2B" program, an organizational tool used for educating youngsters in disadvantaged communities.
A former member of the University's Board of Governors, she is a 2010 recipient of the University's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Sussman recently created a new website, www.ballroomfantasy.com, which captures the excitement of ballroom dance through live interviews, feature stories and spotlights. In addition, she has launched a web reality show, Hollywood Fantasy. The show features two amateur dancers training for a major competition in Hollywood, Calif.