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About Susan R. Madsen

Professor Susan R. Madsen is the Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Previously, she was the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University for 18 years. She is also a Visiting Fellow of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb (Croatia) and a former Fellow of The Leadership Trust Foundation in Ross-on-Wye, England. Dr. Madsen has been heavily involved for many years in researching the lifetime development of prominent women leaders and has personally interviewed a host of women university presidents, U.S. governors, and international leaders. She also studies other aspects of women and leadership more broadly. Overall, Dr. Madsen is considered one of the top global thought leaders on the topic of women and leadership, has authored or edited six books, and has published hundreds of articles, chapters, and reports. She is also the lead series co-editor for the Women and Leadership Book Series with Information Age Publishing and co-edited the first three volumes: Women and Leadership in Higher Education (2014), Women as Global Leaders (2015), and Women and Leadership around the World (2015). Her latest book, The Handbook of Research on Gender and Leadership (Edward Elgar Publishing), released in 2017, is already know as a seminal work on women and leadership worldwide. In 2012, she was the editor of two special issues of the journal Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR) on the topic of women and leadership in higher education.

Dr. Madsen is a sought-after speaker in local, national, and international settings. She has presented in NGO sessions at the United Nations (New York and Geneva) and has also presented in such places as the New York Times, the Argentina Parliament Palace, the House of Commons in England, and in many countries around the world. In addition to a host of speaking engagements in Utah and the U.S., Dr. Madsen has given keynotes and/or presentations in Argentina, South Africa, Slovenia, India, China, Korea, Croatia, Austria, England, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, France, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. In past years she has conducted research in China, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe and has facilitated women’s leadership development programs and seminars with women leaders from over 40 countries.

Susan thrives on being a change agent in her own state of Utah. In 2009, she created the Utah Women and Education Initiative and led a research team and over 100 individuals to investigate what might be done to get more Utah women to attend college and then graduate. In 2011-2012, she worked with the Utah governor and his staff to create the Utah Women’s College Taskforce that resulted in a report to the state calling for change. She has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and generate resources that will help convince more Utah women to graduate from college. She continues to direct this Initiative today. In 2013, Dr. Madsen also created the Utah Women & Leadership Project, which is focused on strengthening the impact of Utah girls and women through encouraging, developing, and advancing women in leadership. She has authored 18 research and policy briefs and 24 research snapshots through these initiatives on issues related to strengthening the impact of Utah women. In addition, Dr. Madsen founded the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN) in 2010 and continues to serve on that board. She also serves on several other Utah nonprofit and community boards, including Envision Utah, Real Women Run, United Way of Utah County, People Helping People, and Better Days 2020.

In recent years, Susan founded the International Leadership Association’s (ILA) Women and Leadership Affinity Group and the Academy of Human Resource Development’s Leadership Special Interest Group. In 2013 and 2015 she chaired a global women and leadership conference for the ILA, which led to the publication of a seminal document that she compiled titled, “The Asilomar Declaration & Call to Action on Women and Leadership.” In May 2014 she also organized and hosted a colloquium for 70 scholars from around the world, titled “Advancing Theories of Women and Leadership,” and Susan continues to coordinate efforts and events to inspire and influence more scholars to develop rigorous women and leadership theory. She and colleagues are now working on helping more women’s leadership scholars understand and get involved with public policy.

Widely recognized for her work, Susan has most recently received the following awards and recognitions: Utah Women in Higher Education Network’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award; Envision Utah’s 2017 Common Good Award; the Laura Bierema Excellence in Critical HRD Award 2017 from the Academy of Human Resource Development; the 2017 Influential Women in her 50s by the Utah Valley Magazine; 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota; 2016 YWCA Utah Outstanding Achievement Award in Education; Community Legacy Impact Award from People Helping People; 2016 “Distinguished Woman of the Year” by the Wasatch Chapter of AAUW; 2016 honoree of the Sundance Film Festival’s Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration; the 2014 “Women and Leadership Scholar of the Year” for the International Leadership Association; one of the 2014 Fabulous Forty in Utah Valley Magazine; one of the 2013 “30 Women to Watch” in Utah Business Magazine, and is a 2012 Salt Lake Chamber PathFinder Awardee. In 2007, she also received the prestigious Early Career Scholar Award from the Academy of Human Resource Development. Her commitment and work with service and engaged learning at the local level led to her selection in past years as Utah Valley University’s “Civic Engaged Scholar of the Year” and “Outstanding Civic Engagement Award” by Utah Campus Compact. She also received the 2006 and 2015 Scholar of the Year Award for the Woodbury School of Business.

Dr. Madsen received her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in Work, Community, and Family Education with a specialization in human resource development. She has other degrees in exercise science/wellness and speech communication education and started her career many years ago as a middle school speech and debate teacher. Susan and her husband Greg have four young adult children (and one 2-year-old grandson), and she enjoys racquetball, soccer, snowshoeing, golf, and hiking.


Present Faculty Member, Utah State University
2002 - 2020 Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Utah Valley University ‐ Woodbury School of Business
2002 - 2020 Professor of Organizational Leadership, Utah Valley University ‐ Woodbury School of Business

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

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  • Individual Action and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Leadership Theory and Application


2001 Doctorate of Education in Work, Community and Family Education Specialization in Human Resource Development, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
1991 Masters of Science in Teaching, Exercise Science/Fitness, Portland State University
1985 Bachelors of Arts, Major: Speech Communication Education; Minor: Physical Education, Brigham Young University

Contact Information

Utah Valley University, Wood School of Business
Department of Organizational Leadership
800 West University Parkway, MS 205
Orem, UT 84058-5999

Articles (157)