Honoring Sue Cullen who inspired & empowered others to reach their full potential
Sue Cullen has been a beautiful body of light in my solar system for almost a decade. She has been a beloved career coach in our community, a former president of the Texas Career Development Association and the most devoted fan and friend of Dick Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute? She passed away this week of an aortic aneurysm that was a result of her fight with ovarian cancer.
We didn’t have a close personal friendship, though she always made me feel like I mattered to her that way, but we did have frequent professional encounters and a great deal of mutual respect for each other over the years.
During the week before last Thanksgiving, we were able to arrange to introduce each other for our respective programs at the Executive Women in Texas Government. That day is indelibly etched in my mind as I recall how we scrambled around trying to set up her room – putting papers, business cards and colorful pipe cleaners (Sue knew how to make a session fun!) on the chairs – only to have to wait while the lunch keynote speaker spoke longer than everyone anticipated (Sue’s program was immediately following lunch). I got a chance to see just how gracious Sue could be. Rather than get uptight or resort to complaining about the delay and how it might shorten her program, she was gracious, charming and chatty… the perfect example of how to “go with the flow.” We filled the time gap with conversation about her kids and her grandkids and how excited she was to spend the upcoming holidays with them.
Sue’s motto, which appeared on her business card, her website and at the bottom of her emails, was “Inspiring and Empowering individuals and teams to reach their full potential.” Every program I was privileged to watch her facilitate, including the one that day at the EWTG conference, was fun, interesting, upbeat and positive. People undoubtedly left her programs with renewed purpose and better understanding of their own potential. I know I did!
The last time I saw Sue was in late November – she was part of a small group of career experts who were asked by a mutual professional acquaintance to meet and provide advice. Her light was shining as bright as ever that evening. None of us had any idea that anything was wrong or that this would be the last time we saw her.
It was not long after that – in December – when she shared with us that she’d been diagnosed with cancer. I’m not sure how much time she actually got to spend with her family during the holidays, but she definitely had to spend some of it battling what she called “this horrific intruder.”
Sue was inspiring. I am honored to have been able to observe how her openness and warmth touched everyone she came in contact with and illuminated the moments she spent with them. She always brought a smiling enthusiasm to her work. She was charming in her Carolinas way and classy to the nth degree. Considering we both have had very similar missions in life – to inspire empowerment – I guess it’s no surprise that she was one of my role models. I’ll definitely miss her, but I’m sure that wherever she is now, she’s lighting up the place with her sweet, angelic energy.