The Stephen & Laurel Brown Foundation is pleased to welcome Susan Smetzer-Anderson as Communications Manager. With over 80,000 guests annually and growing opportunities to deepen and broaden our reach, we believe Susan’s media and storytelling skills align with our vision to enrich the lives of students, faculty, and stakeholders within and well beyond the University of Wisconsin community. Susan’s relational gifts, spiritual maturity, experience within the university, and passion for young people and the broader Madison community further strengthen our already-exceptional staff team.
The Stephen & Laurel Brown Foundation serves the University of Wisconsin and Madison communities by curating experiences of Christian thinking, being, and doing for individual and societal transformation. Through its Upper House and Dottie’s Ranch facilities, the Foundation invites people, faith, values, ideas, and the arts to come together in dynamic settings to foster vocational, intellectual, and cultural formation. As Communications Manager, Dr. Smetzer-Anderson will help us tell the transformative stories unfolding in the lives of UW-Madison students, faculty, staff, and community members influenced by Upper House, as well as share the impacts emerging in the University we are called to serve.
Prior to joining Upper House, Susan led communication initiatives for two federal research efforts at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as worked on communication research related to environmental protection and stewardship funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The lessons of integrating faith, scholarship, and professional practice she learned through InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship and her local churches undergirded her career at UW-Madison, where she worked to share critical research takeaways with policymakers, educators, and stakeholders who steward the nation’s urban schools.
While Susan’s new position leverages her academic experience, she reflects that now she is able to be more holistic in her work. “I feel that I am living into my true vocation as a Christ follower and communication scientist, she says. “I have worked with many wonderful people on worthwhile projects, but now I am positioned to tell compelling, dynamic stories about people’s intellectual growth and faith journeys. Every day I get to tangle with such questions as, How do we invite every person we meet to experience God’s shalom? How do we authentically model God’s love and encourage students and faculty to ‘think, be, and do’ life in ways that benefit themselves and the larger world? The Upper House team is all-in to serve the University of Wisconsin-Madison community through excellent programming and community experiences. Now we are able to more fully communicate the import and impacts of our work. I am thrilled to be a part of Upper House and consider it a privilege and honor.”
Susan earned her M.A. in mass communication from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in communication—with an emphasis on information campaigns and diffusion of innovations—from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She met her husband, Dean, on the stairs of the Communication and Life Sciences Department. Realizing a dream to build an international family, Susan and Dean adopted two beautiful daughters from China and Ethiopia. Through her family, friends, church and work, Susan has learned about the power of authenticity, the grace of God, and the innumerable ways God draws people into a global family. She and her family are members of Christ Presbyterian Church.