Each year the League honors an outstanding active member with a minimum of five years of League service who exemplifies the League’s mission both within the League and in the community at large. First awarded in 2005, the award was endowed by John H. Lindsey to honor his wife, 1957 – 1958 Junior League of Houston President, Sara Houstoun Lindsey.
Susan has “enormous gratitude” at being selected as the 2015 recipient, believing that so many women could have been chosen. “All of the women I work with at the League personify this award,” she says. “We have a significant pool of members to choose from, which is what makes the League such a leader in the community.” She adds that she is honored to have served alongside so many kind, intelligent and thoughtful women and that she has met some of her life-long friends at the League.
Susan grew up in Houston and started her Junior League journey in 2007, a year after marrying her husband, John Barnes. Since joining, Susan has taken full advantage of the opportunities that the League has to offer. Most years she has accepted non-credit roles in addition to her placement, including Provisional Mentor and Outside Board Representative. She has served on the Membership, Community and Finance Councils, as well as the Communications Sub-Council; and served on both the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. Susan’s wealth of knowledge and familiarity with the inner workings of the League are invaluable, and she is always willing to help in any situation. History is one of Susan’s passions. With a Ph.D. in Higher Education – History from Pennsylvania State University, she continues to study, research, write and speak for various publications and organizations.
As the 2014 – 2015 Communications Special Projects Chairman – 90th Anniversary, Susan used her passion for history in creating a video that celebrates the League’s 90-year legacy. “I have been given the opportunity to help identify great leaders in the League who have dedicated themselves to make substantive change in the community,” she says. “The experience has been an affirmation of what I already knew: how incredibly generous our League sustainers are with their time and stories about how the League has shaped them.” For Susan it has been humbling to be part of the not only the League’s heritage in Houston but of the worldwide Junior League movement.
Although she is not able to choose a favorite placement, Susan’s heart has always been with the opportunities to serve she had at Texas Children’s Hospital. Susan served in the TCH Cancer Center as a provisional and Head Active, and in 2013 – 2014 she served as the Texas Children’s Hospital Chairman. “It is the finest children’s hospital on the planet and it is part of our roots,” she says, “the fact that I got to be a part of that history in some way is amazing. I felt privileged to witness the magic that happens at Texas Children’s Hospital.”
“Susan is a wonderful example of a woman who has fulfilled the League’s mission in so many areas of the Houston community,” shares Brooke Bradburn. “It was my privilege to meet Susan at the beginning of her League journey as one of her Provisional Mentors, and then we served together on the 2012 – 2013 Executive Committee. I have always admired things like her passion for understanding and carrying on the League’s history, her initiative to found Diaper Houston, as well as her personal commitment and love for her church, DePelchin Children’s Center and Texas Children’s Hospital – all to which she gives time outside of her League commitments.”
The nonprofit Diaper Houston, co-founded in 2010 with fellow League member Lisa Chmiola, seeks to end the diaper need in the Houston. In 2014, over 20,000 diapers were collected and distributed to agencies such as DePelchin Children’s Center and Casa de Esperanza de los Niños. “Service is what matters,” says Susan. “Serving is opening yourself up to really listen. As League members we are invited to serve in other nonprofits to be witness to the work these agencies do. Serving is then being able to take what you witness and find where you fit in the process of helping.”
As for Susan’s future work, she says, “Receiving an award in honor of Mrs. Lindsey is a charge to do better, to continue to serve, to put my hands to work on behalf of the League and the community. The League and Houston are sure to see much more of Susan’s exceptional leadership and commitment to service.