Susan Abrams was appointed CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in April 2014, with more than 25 years of nonprofit and business management experience. Under Susan’s leadership, the Museum is leading globally in Holocaust and museum education, including through the groundbreaking four-gallery permanent exhibition, the Take a Stand Center, which includes the interactive, holographic Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience.
Susan was recognized as Innovator of the Year and Executive of the Year (Stevie Awards for Women in Business, 2016) and as an Influential Woman in Business (Daily Herald Business Ledger, 2017). Under her leadership, the Museum was recognized as Leader Institution of the Year (Illinois Association of Museums, 2016) and received a 2017 National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor for a museum. In 2018, the Museum received the prestigious Media and Technology GOLD Muse Award (American Association of Museums) for its Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience, and the Chicago Innovation Award. The Museum was also recognized in the 31st Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition for “Special Achievement, Innovative Interpretation, and Community Co-Curation” for Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory. (American Association of Museums, 2019).
Susan previously served as the COO for JCC Chicago. She has held leadership positions at Northwestern University and Chicago Children’s Museum, where she was instrumental in the planning and execution of the museum’s move to Navy Pier. She also has worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Susan holds an MBA degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a BSE from the Wharton School, and a BA from the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of The New Success Rules for Women: 10 Surefire Strategies for Reaching Your Career Goals (Random House, 2000) and regularly speaks to students, alumni, and professional women’s groups on related topics.
See our complete list: Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Women 2019