The Lemon to Lemonade campaign began with a comment made by CNN anchor, Don Lemon. Lemon, spoke about a woman being past their prime once they reach 50 years old. The Lemon to Lemonade campaign is not a dig at Don Lemon it is a way to celebrate extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. In all fairness we owe Mr. Lemon a thank you for giving us another reason to highlight great work by great women.
To date we have received hundreds of nominations about women entrepreneurs, investors, creators, leaders, and mentors. Each nomination tells a story of success and illustrates that their is no expiration date on talent.
The woman we are honoring today is Suzan Morno-Wade. Morno-Wade is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Xerox. She is also an Executive Vice President of Xerox Holdings Corporation and serves as a member of the company’s Executive Committee. Black Enterprise, the premier resource for African American professionals, recognized Suzan for her professional contributions and named her one of the “Most Powerful Women in Corporate America” in 2019. Suzan was nominated by a 27 year old female who shared how much she has learned from Suzan and how her story continues to inspire her to this day. “Through her actions and interactions with those around her she pushes people to do their best and be their best.”
We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with and learn from Suzan, and we hope you enjoy reading about her, as much as we have loved getting to know her.
Tell us about your career path.
Suzan Morno-Wade started her career in finance and worked for some great well-known companies. As she shared, “I was armed with some strong values instilled by my mother. And as a result, I was fortunate to have not only good mentors but even better sponsors.”
Morno-Wade revealed that she enjoyed the work that she was doing, but she sought something more. She even considered leaving the profession and studying medicine. At the time, she was serious about the medical profession, going to school in the evenings and even completing all of her prerequisite courses. However, along the way, she was offered the opportunity to work on a special project that changed her life.
That project and her willingness to raise her hand and be open to a new career opportunity, led her to where she is today. Had it not been for Morno-Wades’s openness to learning, taking a calculated risk, as well as having a sponsor who saw something special in her, her life may have panned out rather differently. She believes this is and was her calling.
Can you tell us about your journey through corporate America as a black woman?
Like so many other women of color, Suzan’s journey to land where she is has not been and is not easy. As Suzan explained to us, “we know that our credentials, work, words, and accomplishments are often scrutinized or second-guessed.” Despite the challenges, “there are people who accept us for who we are, and celebrate and respect us.”
Suzan recounts that she has been fortunate and blessed to have certain people in her life that have believed in her and accepted her, many of whom she now can call her friends. Morno-Wade also notes the blessing of having male sponsors in her life, white males, who have staked their reputations to push forward her career.
Being a black woman has given Suzan Morno-Wade the worst and the best experiences throughout her career, which ultimately have led her to become a better, stronger woman as a result.
Tell us a bit more about your work with the nonprofit, A Better Chance.
Initially, Morno-Wade was unfamiliar with A Better Chance. Several years ago, she was invited to attend what was then called the Annual Luncheon and was blown away by the mission and purpose of this nonprofit. It was not the event itself, but the people who attended and those who were honored.
“Here were these young bright kids who had every right to be afforded the same opportunities as others. I wish someone had told me to bring a box of tissue and wear super waterproof mascara. I was moved immeasurably, and there was no returning, so to speak.”
During that one day, Suzan learned about this organization that was doing and continues to do so much good. When asked to consider filling a vacant Board seat, she was honored and immediately knew she wanted to be a part of it, as it filled a void for her – personally.
Morno-Wade emphasizes that “every opportunity I get, I tell people about this 60-year-old organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of young people of color. This organization, quite simply, changes lives.”
Who is a woman that you look up to?
Suzan looks up to her mother, who came to this country as an immigrant. She was well educated but, like many immigrants, did not know the language, and did not own any property. She had to build a life from the ground up. She instilled values in Suzan like hard work, humility, continuous learning, independence, and resiliency. These are values that Morno-Wade impresses upon her own son today.
What would you say to women who believe they are past their prime?
Suzan Morno-Wade’s answers to this question are as follows:
- There is enough sexism, prejudice, and flat-out misogyny in our world. We live it every single day.
- We do not need to add more “fuel” by diminishing ourselves further. We need to lift each other up and stand up against this prejudice – calling it out every time we see or hear it – which is why I absolutely love what Gardenuity is doing with this Lemon to Lemonade campaign.
- “There are women at all ages and stages of their lives who continue to amaze me. I respect, honor, and am deeply grateful that people can witness their intellect, grace, beauty and contributions.
If you could say something to Don Lemon, what would it be?
“People in positions of authority, leadership, influence, or status have a tremendous gift. They can influence the life of others – personally or professionally. Use that gift for good, not harm – to support, recognize, praise, and build up others, especially women and people of color.”
To nominate someone you think is an example of a woman who is clearly not past their prime and are proving that success has no expiration date. Nominations are reviewed by the Gardenuity team and advisors. Lemon to Lemonade Nomination Form.