Meet Susan Szczerbacki
You will notice a new face at St. Joseph’s Provincial House. You will experience the presence of an enthusiastic, energetic, dynamic woman, introducing herself to individuals from the dining room to the offices to indoor and outdoor workplaces? Meet Susan Szczerbacki, new administrator of the Provincial House. Susan began her work at the PH at the end of September.
Susan grew up in Eldred, a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania about 85 miles south of Niagara Falls, New York. Her father was a teacher and school administrator, and her mother taught first graders in the parish's religious-education program for 30 years. For most of Susan's growing-up years, her father also served as the town's mayor where, says Susan, “City Hall was our kitchen table!” Susan still has an older brother who lives in the family home.
Susan's connection with the Sisters of St. Joseph (Erie) began when she started her undergraduate studies at Villa Maria College in Erie, Pennsylvania. After completing a bachelor's degree in childhood education/special education, Susan attended graduate school at St. Bonaventure University in Olean and later received a master's degree in administration from Alfred University.
Before assuming her position at the Provincial House, Susan spent 25 years as executive director of the Alfred Housing Committee in Alfred, New York. The mission of the not-for-profit organization is to provide safe and affordable housing for low-income individuals, especially the elderly, the frail elderly and handicapped persons. Susan, who is rightly proud of her service with the Housing Committee, describes the accomplishments: “We developed this housing from start to finish, from construction to management. Additionally, we developed infrastructure, such as water-treatment plants, reservoirs and roads for municipalities. In ten years, we loaned over $2 million and created over 200 jobs and many new small businesses.” No doubt, Susan's previous service reflects the CSJ goal of working toward systemic change!
Susan's connection with the Albany Province is not limited to the Provincial House. David, her husband of 30 years, is the new provost and academic vice president at The College of Saint Rose. Their daughter, Katie, graduated from law school and is presently completing a doctorate in public policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The names of the family pets reflect the passions of the owners: reading and politics. Katie's “roommate” is her cat, Esmé (of J. D. Salinger fame?), and David and Susan have feline friends, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt!
At the Provincial House, Susan has spent her first month getting to know the sisters, the staff and the building. Her first impressions are a tribute to the CSJ charism: “I truly believe we are living the CSJ mission. The meaning of the term, Dear Neighbor, is something that cannot be described adequately in words; rather it has to be experienced. The spirit at St. Joseph's Provincial House emanates from the well-manicured grounds, the physical architecture, the glorious chapel, the delicious smells in the dining room, the tasteful appointments and decorations but, most of all, from the warmth and hospitality of the people in the house. From the beginning, I was happy to be here, and I grow more so every day. I have experienced true sincerity behind the words, You are most welcome.”
Susan's initial goal in her new position at the PH reflects a healthy combination of the realistic and the futuristic: “My greatest hope is to influence positive changes at the Provincial House. We will keep what works and fix what doesn't.” Susan finds direction from the words on a plaque given to her mother when she “retired” from 30 years in religious education: “A woman who, having chosen a good or even a great and noble objective, never loses sight of that objective but manages to overcome all obstacles and see it through to the end. She looks to God alone in whom she trusts, and this trust is the foundation of all she does.”