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After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, Susan “Hawk” Rafferty discovered First Descents by way of attending a rock climbing program in Estes Park, Colorado. That program proved to be the perfect way to cross the bridge from treatment to getting back to living, and since then Susan has attended two FDX (International) programs and has served as a volunteer at three week-long FD programs. She feels strongly that First Descents provided the adventure and community that helped her move from the physical toll of treatment back to an active lifestyle, and she is still in daily contact with many FDers she connected with in the past decade.
Susan grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to Colorado to attend Colorado State University. After several years in Chicago post-graduation, she moved back to the Colorado Rockies, and currently resides in Denver. In February of 2019, with ten years professional experience in HR leadership in the public sector, Susan joined McWhinney Real Estate Services as their SVP of People Services. Susan holds a BA in Social Sciences from Colorado State University, an MA in Educational Counseling and an MS in Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Management from Regis University.
One of Susan’s passions is dog rescue. She previously served on the board of directors of Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. She has fostered over one-hundred Great Danes, and currently has three rescued senior dogs. Susan is excited to be able to serve and give back to the organization that brought such adventure, healing, joy, and community into her cancer journey.