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College of Human Ecology

Motivational speaker receives K-State's Holen Leadership Award

Monday, April 14, 2008

MANHATTAN -- Suzanne Mayo-Theus, an advocate for under-represented populations and a tireless leader of such civic undertakings as the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans, has won the 2008 Michael C. Holen Outstanding Leadership Award, presented by the Kansas State University leadership studies program.

Mayo-Theus will receive her award at the leadership studies recognition ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday, April 21, in the K-State Student Union Ballroom.

Mayo-Theus, a K-State doctoral student in family studies and human services, Manhattan, is CEO of Mynette Management Co. and a professional speaker. She also is the mother of a 14-year-old son, Destin Theus.

"Suzanne epitomizes positive passion," said Candi Hironaka, associate director of the leadership studies program. "She has an optimistic and hopeful attitude and always displays this no matter what is going on in her life. She embodies a spirit that connects with people across all boundaries."

The Holen Award was established in 1999 to honor those who embody the leadership studies mission of developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring and inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world. previous recipients include Buck O'Neil, Page and Nancy Twiss, Deb Patterson, Linda Thurston, James Coffman, Grace Hwang, Ruth Ann Wefald, Carol Gould and Atina Hanna.

Mayo-Theus has traveled internationally as a speaker and consultant for colleges as well as government agencies. She addresses such topics as motivation, college success, leadership, organizational effectiveness, racial identity, student life and fundraising. She has helped raise more than $50 million for not-for-profit organizations and institutions of higher education.

A native of Louisiana, Mayo-Theus has organized student groups and corporate executives to support the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. As part of that effort she helped K-State students organize an "alternative spring break" trip to help with the clean-up. She continues to advocate for restoring New Orleans.

Her most recent work has been with Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the inspiration for "The Great Debaters" movie starring Denzel Washington. Mayo-Theus coordinated the world premiere and asked Washington to help this historically black college. The actor contributed $1 million to re-establish the school's debate team.

Source: Robert Shoop, 785-532-6085, rshoop@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Andy Badeker, 785-532-6415,

This article was posted on Monday, April 14, 2008, and is filed under Family Studies & Human Services.