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Athena Podcast Series: Young Athena Finalist Amanda Susko

Interview by Jonathan Kersting

Athena Awards Podcast Series

In this episode of the UPMC Health Plan Athena Podcast we talk to Amanda Susko, Senior Director, Foundation Programs and Strategic Planning, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Discover more about Amanda

Amanda Susko is a leader, mentor and advocate who makes it her mission to see potential in others when they are unable to see it in themselves. 

Her dedication to helping others find their greatness and passion is evident in her personal mantra: do what you love. Since 2006, Susko has grown within the sports and entertainment industry with her professional work spanning roles in inside and corporate sales, community and fan development, and strategic planning. A true teammate, Susko does not celebrate her individual and personal wins. She works to motivate others and help them achieve success.

Susko has proven to be dynamic in her business strategy by thinking like a saleswoman but leading with a selfless heart. In addition to her Foundation work supporting youth and special needs initiatives, she has also dedicated her time and fundraising efforts to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Mario Lemieux Foundation, the Hockey Sticks Together Foundation’s Board of Directors, and Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) where she spearheaded the rebuilding of the 20-year-old Ronald McDonald Care Mobile that brings vital medical services to under-served communities. She believes every person has the potential and ability to positively change the world by serving others. 

Susko’s strong work ethic and boundless creativity led her to spearhead the Penguins Foundation’s first Night of Assists charity gala presented by Highmark and the Penguins Charity Game on AT&T SportsNet—events that annually raise over $2 million combined in support of wellness, education, youth hockey and community initiatives. She has made her mark on the Penguins franchise and has developed events that are considered premier events by other NHL franchises. Even with the pressure of planning some of the city’s largest annual fundraisers, Susko still manages to constantly teach her staff and interns and assign responsibilities that turn into incredible learning opportunities. 

With personal passions for mental health advocacy and inclusivity, Susko teamed up with EMBRACE Pittsburgh for the first Penguins Break the Ice Night—where fans and Pittsburghers were encouraged to start the conversation about mental health to end the stigma—and she works on the Foundation’s COOL Zone mental wellness youth program with the Matilda H. Theiss Child Development Center at UPMC. She has also worked with the Allegheny County Parks Department to activate adaptive clinics for children with disabilities allowing them to experience hockey in a comfortable and safe setting.

Working in a predominantly male industry, it is important to have a woman in a leadership role with the desire to give more women the opportunity to grow. As such, she helped to create the first Her Hockey Night and the first Girls Rock Hockey Weekend where females across the region were highlighted for their love for hockey and passion to expand the game. She also has attended the NHL’s Gender Equity Summit, is a member of WISE Pittsburgh (Women in Sports & Events) and serves on the Penguins Internship Development Committee.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Saint Francis University where she recently took on an Adjunct Professor position in Sports Marketing in the spring of 2020.