Born and raised in Lincoln, Susan Larson Rodenburg is happy to call Lincoln her home. Susan is president of SLR Communications, a consulting business she started in 1990 to give her flexibility to start a family. She’s driven to make Lincoln a better place and loves being active in the community.
When she finds the time, you’ll likely find Susan on her bicycle or traveling the world. She and her husband, Rich, are the founders of Tour de Nebraska, a five-day annual bicycle adventure of rural Nebraska, and recently created Hound Dog Cycling Adventures in 2017 to offer off-the-beaten-path, self-guided international cycling tours. They are the parents of two grown sons, Max and Jack.
What is the most rewarding part about what you do?
I love connecting generous people to projects that improve our community. When I started my own business in 1990, I had no idea I’d end up organizing fundraising campaigns, but it’s something I really enjoy. I will always be grateful to Chris Beutler and Lynn Johnson for giving me an opportunity to help with the Sunken Gardens renovation project in 2002. With the help of an awesome team of volunteers, we managed to raise nearly $2 million to make the gardens beautiful again, forever. Through that experience, I discovered that people in Lincoln love their parks, and that it’s so rewarding to connect generous people to good projects. Helping my community is in my DNA, and I’m so grateful I’ve had these types of opportunities.
What is the biggest challenge about what you do?
My biggest challenge is turning down good opportunities, because I’m strict about my life balance. In terms of my fundraising work, every project is different, so the challenge is developing a strategy that is unique and will inspire donors. I love to gather a team of volunteers who are passionate about the project and work together to craft the best possible plan. There are challenges and surprises with every campaign, and I guess that is what makes it interesting and fun.
What is your favorite part of Lincoln and why?
Our parks and trail system. We live on the Rock Island Trail, and I ride my bicycle nearly every day for exercise, work or errands. My husband, Rich, and I were charter members of the Great Plains Trails Network and had the opportunity to help build Lincoln’s 130-mile trails network. It’s so gratifying to see so many people using the trails, because when we started, some would actually say, “Why do you need trails when we have sidewalks?” Parks and trails have become important economic drivers for our community, and help attract workers and families to move here. Parks and trails are free and fun, and help us connect with nature and fill our souls.
How did your father (Roger Larson) influence your life?
My Dad taught me so many lessons. I think about him every day and miss him terribly. However, I hear his voice whispering in my ear, and I try my best to carry on his legacy, which is to work hard, make a difference and inspire others. Dad was an eternal optimist, loved helping people, was super smart and just fun to be around. Like Warren Buffett, I feel like I won the lottery of the womb with both of my parents, Roger and Shirley. They gave me unconditional love, support and unbelievable advice over the years, and I’m so grateful I had my Dad for so long, and that my mom is still living.
How do you like your coffee?
Vanilla latte, decaf, with whole milk and sugar-free vanilla. Or, black decaf with cream at The Hub Cafe.