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the women’s issue



Susan has lived in Durham her whole life. A Hillside High School and UNC-Chapel Hill grad, Susan spent 29 years as a senior fundraiser at Duke University, leading teams responsible for raising more than $500 million for endowment, facilities, athletics and annual giving during her professional career. She co-founded moss+ross, which provides a full range of fundraising, strategic planning and executive search services to nonprofits, with her grade-school friend, Mary, in fall 2008. She grew up in Forest Hills, owned her first home in Morehead Hills and has lived in American Village for 32 years with her husband, Tom Hadzor. The couple has six kids between them – Andy Ross, Sarah Ross, Sarah Hadzor Worley, Becca Hadzor Wildsmith, Bobby Hadzor and Tommy Hadzor – and three grandchildren.


Talk about the inception of Moss + Ross – how did this idea come about? Mary Susan and I were not only best friends since the first grade at

Morehead Elementary, but we had become compatriots in the development

field for decades. We often talked about our desire to strike out on our own some day, and 2008 turned out to be that year. We had no idea what the fall of 2008 would bring in terms of the economy, but there we were, ready to take on a new business as well as the worst economy in nearly 80 years. Susan We were both active in the community and saw the need for a full-

service nonprofit consulting firm based here; one that had the experience and knowledge to meet the community’s needs whether for campaigns or just managing the important work these nonprofits are doing every day.

Tell us about your work life. What’s your day-to-day like, and what gets you out of bed in the morning? Susan About half my time is client-based interactions and meetings off-

site, sometimes in my “field offices” around town at Refectory Café or Mad Hatter. The rest of my time is at the computer or on the phone in my home office. We all work remotely, and I love that, but that means there is never a “time-to-go-home-now” moment. There is always more work than can be done during a normal amount of time, and Mary and I both have to resist the temptation to work all the time. Mary I do not stay in bed [for] long, ever. My days begin early, and my

Mary grew up in Forest Hills, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then became a paralegal. She began working at Duke University in 1981 in development – Susan actually helped her get the job by introducing Mary to the then-director of development – where she worked for nearly six years before moving on to Durham Academy (where she had attended briefly), then to Ravenscroft School and finally to her high school alma mater, Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh. Mary cofounded moss+ross 10 years ago. She and husband, Bill, have three sons, William, John and Alex, and one granddaughter.

nights are late. Insomnia works in my favor! Susan and I spend a lot of our days at client meetings. Our nights are spent catching up on email and planning for the next day. We value strong internal and external communications, and we are in touch with our associates during the evening as we all prepare strategies for our clients. Our clients know that we are always there for them. While moss+ross is not a nonprofit, Susan and I have a strong desire to give back and have an impact in the nonprofit sector. This motivation to strengthen nonprofits is the same one that drove us to spend the bulk of our careers in nonprofit institutions. Our business is about our clients, and the joy is palpable when we feel we have made a difference and empowered them to live more fully into their mission. What are some projects you are working on with your Durham clients, currently, that you’re really proud of? Susan We are handling the fundraising for Durham 150, which has been a

labor of love for my home. [Mary agrees this is the current project she is most 44




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Profile for Shannon Media

Durham Magazine May 2019  


Durham Magazine May 2019