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Major Donor Specialist Susan Koppa McClurg to retire from WUWM

a woman sitting in a radio studio
Graham Thomas
WUWM Major Donor Specialist Susan Koppa McClurg.

Susan Koppa McClurg joined WUWM in 2018 as the station's major donor specialist. After seven years with the station and millions of dollars raised, she's retiring this summer.

She sits down with WUWM President and General Manager David Lee to reflect on her time at WUWM and look forward to the future.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

We just finished Susan's goodbye lunch, wherein she was described as a “weapon” for the first time in her life. And I don't know if you know this Susan, but as a Packers owner, there's a position in football called “weapon,” which is a player who can play multiple different positions and do a lot of different things and hurt other teams in different ways. Do you relate to that description now?

Actually entirely, except for the part of hurting other people. I don't want people to run away from me in fear. That’s for sure.

I'm more more interested in really, you know, the relationship that I have with our donors and listeners and everybody here. But yeah, you know, over the years, when you work in nonprofit your whole career, you develop a lot of skills. And I can honestly say there's never been a job — except when I worked at Donnie Fair's SuperValu in Green Bay in High school — where fundraising hasn't been a part of it. Right? I mean you’re always working to, in nonprofit world, find support for the work and the mission. I would say I like that, “the weapon.”

Well, use it in retirement sparingly because you don't want to be roped into anything that you may not want to participate in. So, as I mentioned, we just finished the retirement lunch where many of your colleagues got to give you a little bit of a valedictory. What was it like hearing from your colleagues?

It's humbling. It's warming. It's validating. I felt very loved by my colleagues and that was a wonderful thing. You know, what I do as far as development is sometimes it’s seemingly not so connected to the content side, but in every way it's connected to the content side. So to hear people’s perceptions and experiences and kind of what they've remembered, yeah, it was ... I can't quite describe it. I'm not used to that kind of attention. It will take me some time to process that.

I think that's a valuable lesson in how much this place means to you and how much you mean to this place.

It's never easy to transition, I think, into retirement for people who love to work. And I really do. I've loved working my entire life. So, to have such a warm send off from folks and the recognition, it feels good. It feels like a nice way to say adieu to my workaday life.

Not that I won't be busy, because I'll be busy, but I'll have a lot more flexibility in where I spend my time and energy in the next phase of my life. And I'm really looking forward to that.

What is the one thing that you're most proud of out of your tenure here at WUWM?

Gosh, that's so hard, but I will say I think the thing I'm most proud of is that my position is being replaced by two full-time people. And not that I'm totally responsible for that. But I think one of the things in my time here I was able to demonstrate is that there is value in really building a relationship and building engagement with, certainly with our individual donors and members for giving for today, but also with our individual donors and members for giving legacy, giving a gift and making a gift in their in their will or request, and then also beginning to build those strong relationships with foundations and corporations in the area.

Everything we do is dependent upon the largesse of our community and the public that we serve. But, to flip that around, everything that any nonprofit organization in the City of Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin does is dependent upon an informed public. Their success is dependent upon people knowing about them, knowing there's an issue, knowing there's a problem. That's what we do. That's the symbiosis that's there. And I'm really proud that that work has been recognized, and that we're going to be building that foundation and those relationships more. Two people will have more time than I have, so they'll be just more attention paid to that. And I think it will benefit WUWM, of course, but also benefit the community at large.

Susan was WUWM's major donor specialist from 2018-2024.
David is WUWM's president and general manager.
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