Susan Guess, senior vice president of marketing for Paducah Bank, is the final guest speaker for the Commonwealth Honors Academy at 6:30 p.m. today at Murray State University. The theme for this summer's program is “A Call to Serve: Awakening the Leader in You."
Guess was selected for her anti-bullying advocacy work. She and her daughter, Morgan, began the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation six years ago after Morgan experienced bullying. Susan was appointed by former Governor Steve Besmear to serve on the Kentucky Bully Prevention Task Force. She chaired the Legislation, Regulation, and Funding committee. The 22-member panel made recommendations to the Governor and Morgan testified before the Kentucky legislature for support of a bill to define bullying. The duo joined Governor Matt Bevin earlier this year to sign the bill into law. It impacts all 1,233 public schools and 630,000 Kentucky students.
“My initial goal was to teach my daughter that bad things are going to happen in life and we can choose to ignore them, blame others, or be a part of the solution,” said Susan. “My hope was for her to find her own voice and to see that she could make a difference. What we discovered was that we had a chance to give hope to those suffering in silence and that we could help young people all over the Commonwealth find their own voice.”
She has been featured on CNN and wrote an opinion piece on the subject for the Huffington Post. ExpertBeacon also invited Guess to give advice to parents struggling to address bullying. She has been featured on Health 360 and Connections on KET. Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg recently featured the Guesses story on her website optionb.org. Sandberg launched the website in April after the release of her new book Option B. The book is focused on helping people build resilience and find meaning in the face of adversity.
Susan was the second woman to chair the Paducah Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and only the second person to chair twice. She also chaired the Lourdes Hospital Foundation board for six years.
She was named Kentucky’s top volunteer two times. The first time in 1998 after she chaired a campaign to build a $100,000 memorial garden at Heath High School following the school shooting and again last year for her anti-bullying efforts throughout the state. She was awarded the Kentucky Justice Association Consumer Safety Award in 2015. She also won a national HUD community service award after starting Girl Scout troops in Paducah’s public housing.
She contributed to the Applied Public Relations college textbook (authored by MSU professor Marcie Hinton). She has won nearly 20 Telly Awards for her bank television commercials and has been recognized nationally for her bank social media efforts.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Murray State University and an MPA from the University of Louisville. She was recently re-elected vice chair of the Murray State University Board of Regents.
The Commonwealth Honors Academy is a three week academic, social and personal growth program for outstanding high school students who have completed their junior year. The mission of the Commonwealth Honors Academy is to challenge, educate, enlighten, and nurture the next generation of civic, academic and business leaders of the region.