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Get to Know Groundwork: Susan Ackerman, Managing Director, Policy

As part of our “Get to Know Groundwork” series, we've been spotlighting members of our amazing team. This week, we’re getting to know Susan Ackerman, who joined Groundwork Ohio in March of 2024.

In the heart of Groundwork Ohio’s mission stands Susan Ackerman, a passionate and dedicated leader with an unwavering commitment to the well-being of mothers and their precious babies and young children. As the Managing Director of Policy at Groundwork Ohio, Susan brings a lifetime of policy and advocacy expertise to the forefront of our efforts.

Susan is the driving force behind the development, leadership, and implementation of the organization’s visionary policy agenda. With a keen focus on critical maternal and infant healthcare initiatives and early learning programs, Susan shapes policies and systems that are not only impactful, but resonate deeply with the needs of Ohio’s infants, toddlers, young children, and their families. In addition to her role in policy development, Susan directs Groundwork Ohio’s statewide coalition efforts, orchestrating recruitment, outreach, engagement, and mobilization initiatives to hold decision-makers accountable to the best interests of Ohio’s youngest.

Susan’s journey to Groundwork Ohio is marked by a rich tapestry of experiences, most recently serving as the Managing Director of the Ohio practice for Sellers Dorsey. Here, she collaborated with health systems nationwide, securing additional Medicaid funding to preserve access and enhance care for Medicaid patients—an accomplishment indicative of her commitment to equitable healthcare outcomes.


Check out our Q&A with Susan to learn more about why she’s a passionate advocate for young children and families in Ohio. 


Q: What drew you to early childhood policy research and advocacy? Tell us more about your “why.”

 A:  I have always been interested in how things connect – in my professional life that means policy and funding. Health and human services policy is especially intricate and intertwined and particularly challenging for many people to navigate. Too often this complexity lets people down rather than helps to lift them up.

As the mother of twins. I know that raising children is hard work. I have experienced many of the challenges that Groundwork works to improve - from pregnancy complications to premature birth to challenges finding quality child care – and yet I fully recognize that I had it much easier than most since I had a spouse, financial resources, and extended family support. I feel a strong responsibility to help children thrive. 


Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or a lesson that you’ve learned that has helped you in this work? 

 A: I have been fortunate to have a lot of great bosses. Two pieces of advice that stick out are the need to leverage the power of the strong when you serve the poor and the weak and the power of diverse coalitions to make difficult and meaningful change. 


Q: What’s your word for 2024? 

 A:  Optimism – We all have a vested interest in the health and well-being of children. If we all work together for children, we can improve our collective future. 


Q: When you aren’t advocating on behalf of young children and families, what do you enjoy doing?

A:   With our children about to “leave the payroll,” as they start their post-college lives, my husband and I are reengaging with those activities we set aside when we became parents. Ironically, one of our favorite activities remains checking out our favorite animals at the zoo. I am a huge fan of hippos and capybaras. 


Q: Describe a scene from your vision of the future for Ohio’s youngest children and their caregivers. 

A: All Ohio parents are empowered and have the resources that they need to ensure their children thrive.

Connect with Susan on Twitter, LinkedIn, or by email.


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