Susan Ellis had an insatiable thirst for information. I first witnessed this in the early 1970s when, as a young professional, she was assigned the task of starting a volunteer program. The body of knowledge in this field was very limited, she had no training in exactly how to go about this work, and she eagerly sought out individuals and resources to educate herself. As she connected with others across the United States, Susan quickly realized that many were struggling to learn about how to lead and manage volunteers effectively. Her personal “resource library” grew steadily as she collected relevant information and generously shared it with colleagues, however and whenever possible. After starting her consulting and training business called Energize, Inc. in 1977, Susan’s reach expanded beyond the U.S. The knowledge she possessed was disseminated widely, even as she continued to gather materials and learn more from the colleagues she met during her international travel.
By the time the world wide web was launched, the Energize Resource Library had grown to several file cabinets and shelves of paper – sample materials, books, articles, and journals. All were catalogued and filed by topic, and available to anyone who wished to visit Susan’s Philadelphia office. Of course, the Internet fueled Susan’s love of learning and connecting with others in our field, but she never stopped valuing the “hard copy” information contained in that early collection. She continued to add paper copies of many volunteer program materials and publications, and often referenced the timeless principles from earlier decades in her workshops and writing.
Susan’s career in volunteer engagement paralleled the evolution of this field – and significantly propelled it forward. She possessed a remarkable ability to find and capture anything and everything that had even the slightest connection to the field about which she was so passionate. Her influence as a teacher, mentor, advocate, author, and vocal thought-leader was immense. The Ellis Archive honors Susan’s legacy and fulfills her final wish that her collection of information and materials continue to be accessible to current and future practitioners and researchers. She understood that professional history has many lessons to teach us in our own age, and passionately believed “we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”
With gratitude for the honor of serving as Susan’s “archivist”,
Katie Campbell, CVA