We had the good fortune of connecting with Susie Levan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susie, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
That’s a very interesting question. Let me give you a little background: from 1972-1988, I was the Chief Operating Officer and EVP of a male-dominated, NYSE public real estate syndication company located in Coral Gables, Florida. In 1988 my family became a victim of a horrific crime—three armed gunmen came into our home. My daughter and I became their hostages for ransom and put in the trunk of our four-door sedan for five hours. During that time, I had a Near-Death Experience and miracle that would change my life and career forever. A few years later, I found that my life’s purpose was to empower women. So, from 1991-1995, I returned to school to become a certified pastoral counselor, teacher of meditation, hypnotherapist, life coach and reiki master. Now, armed with these credentials to empower women from a spiritual and metaphysical perspective, I believe my career chose me!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Easy, for sure it has not been. What sets me apart from others is that I was a victim of a crime in 1988 and had a Near-Death Experience which profoundly changed my life view, direction and purpose, forever. After two years of intense counseling, because I suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after my traumatic experience, I was able to heal and connect with my life’s purpose. Because of my Near-Death Experience, a spiritual awakening within me occurred, forgiveness and meditation are the two most powerful lessons that I share with readers of my book. Forgiveness has set me free and meditation has been life changing.
After graduating from the Florida Religious Studies Institute in 1995 as a Certified Pastoral Counselor, Hypnotherapist and Teacher of Meditation, I started my first company where I would counsel and coach women—The Sanctuary, a Place to Heal the Heart Within, Inc. Simultaneously, I started a women’s group that I named, “Women’s Wisdom Circle.” The purpose of the Wisdom Circle” is to empower, encourage, motivate, inspire and support women in an atmosphere of confidentiality, love and respect. The hundreds of women that have participated and experienced the “Wisdom Circle” with my curated exercises and processes have enjoyed, personally and professionally, an awakened consciousness and deep transformation. What we do in the “Wisdom Circle” is share experiences without judgment, reflect on work/life balance challenges, discover new listening skills, and learn how to meditate. After 25 years, the “Wisdom Circle” continues to be active, still meeting bi-weekly (now on Zoom) with C-Suite women from all walks of life and professions.
In 1999, I was Founder/President/CEO of The Work-Life Balance Institute for Women—a 501c3 nonprofit. Under the umbrella of my nonprofit, we produced and published Balance Magazine—an 84-page, color, glossy magazine whose mission was to inspire women with articles on personal growth, self-development, health, wealth, happiness and work/life balance. We also created the Annual Ultimate Day of Balance Conferences with national, electrifying and fired-up keynote speakers with 1,500 women in attendance—the must-attend conference of the year for networking, personal growth and leadership!
I then simultaneously curated a unique networking process we held in business clubs in the tri-county area, aptly named –Power Networking Luncheons for Women—a different vibe for its time. Unlike other networking luncheons where you got to speak to only one or two friends and passed out a few business cards that ended up at the bottom of your purse, at monthly PNL’s you got to meet every attendee—all 80 women! We taught women how to make connections without being competitive, relationship building, an ask and give exchange for ideas and solving challenges, and so much more. Women left feeling heard and empowered in a warm, friendly, and supportive atmosphere. Thousands of lifetime business and personal relationships were forged during those networking luncheons.
For the last 25 years, I’ve been very involved with giving back to the Broward Community. I have sat on many nonprofit boards. Currently, I am the co-chair and co-founder of the Nova Southeastern University, Susie & Alan B. Levan Ambassadors Board—with over 200 C-Suite members. I’m a member of the Executive Committee and Board of the Board of Governors of the NSU H. Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship; a member of United Way of Broward Alexis de Tocqueville Society. I was the “first” to be given the United Way of Broward County, Magnolia Award—now in its eighth year—I was chosen to be their 2020 Co-Chair. A huge honor, the award recognizes women of dignity, strength, and perseverance. Member of the Executive Committee of Women United for United Way. I’ve been very fortunate to receive many corporate and community awards and recognitions over the last 25 years, humbly—too long to list.
Today I’m the Author of “Getting to Forgiveness—What a Near-Death Experience Can Teach Us About Loss, Resilience and Love”—with Foreward by multi-Grammy® singer, songwriter, Gloria Estefan. It has taken me 31 years to put in writing my deeply personal story. Writing my story was exceedingly difficult, cathartic and challenging for me. I believe my life’s purpose is to empower, impact and transform the lives of women. As a Spiritual Warrior, Philanthropist, Community Leader, Life Coach, and Chief Soul Officer of my company and my all-time favorite position, a grandmother of twelve, I know there is still more for me to accomplish and to do in the world. With COVID-19 exploding, I pledge to continue to find ways to be of service to women and to my community.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve not been out of my house since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic so I’ll have to dig deep. However, if all was back to “normal” I would take my friend to have the best time ever with these places to visit:
• Breakfast, lunch or dinner at Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana for a little Cuban Café con Leche, Pastelitos de Guava, Flan and Arroz con Frijoles for a little “local” flavor • Jungle Island
• Children’s Museum at Fisher Island
• Miami Seaquarium in Key Biscayne
• Head to South Beach to sip on icy mojitos in an open-air café and do some people watching on Ocean Drive
• Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
• Wynwood • Venetian Pool
• Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables
• Go to see all the beautifully lit Art Deco Buildings on South Beach in the Historic District at night
• Go to a few hot clubs with great dancing and local jet setters on South Beach
• Walk and people watch at the Broadwalk in Hollywood Beach
• Go to play and eat at Seminole Hardrock—the Guitar Hotel
• Go see a Broadway show at the Broward Theatre for Performing Arts
• Have an amazing Italian dinner at Casa D’Angelo—the best Italian restaurant in Broward County
• Butterfly World
• Flamingo Gardens
• Sightseeing sunset cruise on the Venice of America (Fort Lauderdale) traveling up and down the intercostal waterway
• Airboat tour in the Everglades
• Shopping at Sawgrass Mills for the best values in town—she’ll need an extra suitcase!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
No one is truly ever “self-made.” From my own experience, a woman alone has power and can make a difference in the world, but what I know for sure is with love and encouragement, collectively we roar! So, I want to give a humongous shoutout—I stand on the shoulders of so many women that have been there (family and friends—too many to list that still are and have been by my side over these last 30 years), collaborating, navigating and supporting me and all my endeavors.
Another huge shoutout of gratitude goes to all the people who have purchased my book “Getting to Forgiveness—What a Near-Death Experience Can Teach Us About Loss, Resilience and Love” that was launched November 19, 2019. It became #1 on Amazon after a few weeks. While I was writing my book, I made the decision to give away the proceeds of all book sales. To date, I have been able to give book sales proceeds of $40,000 to eight Broward County nonprofits.
Last but not certainly least, I want to give another big shoutout of appreciation to the Women’s Wisdom Circle. The women who have attended my group for the last 25 years, have been instrumental in giving me a platform to teach what I need to learn the most. I will be forever grateful to the special relationships and close connections I have made with every one of these extraordinary and powerful women.
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