Suzette Walden Cole

Suzette’s life has been guided by her intense passion for helping others realize their potential – to know their truth. She focuses on research-based content and practical application that will give students what they need to be agents of change on and off campus.

Suzette isn’t a speaker that will sugarcoat heavy issues, instead she takes a direct, truthful approach. She utilizes her vast experiences including ten years at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, the last three of which she spent as Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. Suzette was instrumental in overhauling Illinois State’s student organization conduct process, which is now a model in the field. In 2013, she was named Student Conduct Professional of the Year in part for the work she did in overhauling their Title IX and student organization processes. She infuses just the right amount of humor into her discussions of serious subjects, keeping audiences engaged and comfortable. Suzette’s disarmingly honest message is sure to resonate with those who may have put up walls or filters from the very beginning.

She believes that supporting students and challenging them are two sides of the same coin. From Suzette, students will gain a belief that change is achievable and necessary.

It’s Everybody’s Job: Building Safer Communities

It’s terrible, but it’s true: be it an average Friday night at someone’s apartment or an officially sponsored chapter or organization event, situations manifest where individuals are placed at risk – either by personal choice, or the actions of others. When those situations arise, it’s critical that our communities be prepared to protect one another. If we want to build a safer community against sexual violence and misconduct, then it is imperative that we provide students with the proper education to recognize and step in when they witness someone at risk. In this keynote, Suzette focuses on framing the conversation that is truly relatable for students so that they make real changes in their actions. Unfortunately, many students can’t recognize the signs of a situation wherein someone is a risk, leading to them either not realizing the risk at all or feeling too insecure to step in. Suzette helps by giving students the training they need to step in when they sense someone is in danger confidently. She teaches students the skills that they need to be proactive, aware community members, and help to bring an end to sexual assault and misconduct.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the history of alcohol and sexual assault/misconduct on college campuses,
  • how to define and understand how to gain and secure consent,
  • how to recognize reasons why individuals often do not intervene, how to overcome those factors, and techniques for safeguarding events (both unofficial and official), and
  • the skills to assess situations, determine a course of action, and step-in to ensure the safety and security of their community.

New Leaders of Tomorrow: Cultural Competency is Ensuring Everyone’s Asked to Dance

Verna Meyer offered, “Diversity is inviting everyone to the party, inclusion is ensuring everyone is asked to dance.” College life opens the door to being exposed to differences on multiple levels of the diversity spectrum. Often, individuals do not always know how to be inclusive, or even what that means. So much of the focus up to this point has been on the concept of diversity. Many times, on our campuses, this results in members of our student bodies struggling to feel valued and heard. Our country is facing serious issues – those captured in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, sexual violence on campus and gender identity. Ensuring ALL students feel valued necessitates leaders develop heightened levels of cultural competence. This session is designed to have leaders reflect on their own cultural lens to enable them to be more effective in their role and serving their campus community.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the complexities of unconscious bias and systemic –isms, and
  • How to seize opportunities for collaboration to foster a more inclusive campus community.

“I’m sorry, who do you think you are?”: Knowing When and How to Call Someone Out

Confronting people on issues, behaviors, and fellow members on performance-related matters can make for challenging situations for all involved parties. In most instances, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that can make the difference between escalating or creating learning opportunities. Understanding how to address incidents of ignorance being spoken, or acts of intolerance that push the boundaries, are essential components to college and beyond. When we don’t confront, we grant people passive acceptance to continue to act, joke, or speak in ways that can cause harm. In this keynote, students will explore communication and confrontation techniques; ways to proactively prevent negative results; tips on minimizing the impact to the group; and recommendations for the post-confrontation follow-up.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the importance of embracing conflict that leads to positive resolutions, and
  • the skills needed to address conflict appropriately.

#KnowYourTruth: Fulfilling Your Passion and Purpose

Suzette uses her first-hand knowledge to relate to her audience; she underwent a radical transformation–losing 156 lbs. Through diet and a steadfast commitment to fitness. Before her transformation, Suzette felt controlled and silenced by her weight. She didn’t feel worthy or confident. It was during her weight loss journey that she regained her voice as a woman, scholar, and leader. In this keynote, Suzette translates the lessons she learned through her process into easily digestible and relatable ideas. She shares with others the importance of personal power, living a truthful life, and self-reflection. Through humor and story-telling, Suzette engages audiences members from any background or personal history. Her intelligence and charm are sure to leave a lasting impact. Suzette’s message makes her an awesome addition to round out your conference or event.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • how to identify “mean girl” behaviors and characteristics of unhealthy relationships,
  • how to discuss “mean girl” behavior and unhealthy relationships affects them, other women, and our communities.
  • how to reflect on their experiences with mean girl behavior and other unhealthy relationships,
  • techniques for uncovering one’s purpose and passion and
  • the importance of self-reflection, meditation, and evaluation to realize one’s own truth.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: Cultivating Allies, Partners, & Champions

Our campuses are hotbeds for cultural clashing. Are you on campus to show up for others? Sometimes we function in isolation and don’t speak up when others need us to do so. Privilege is the ability to not see something as a problem because it’s not a problem for you personally. Movements sometimes struggle because they lack clarity in their mission, or specifically in their desired outcomes. Drilling down the realness of what we want to see change allows us greater success. We can enhance our effectiveness of speaking truth to power by cultivating allies at various levels. Together, we’ll explore the barriers of individuals asserting themselves as allies, techniques for overcoming them, and recommendations for a strategic partnership.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the concept of allyship and how to put it into practice,
  • how to recognize barriers and how to overcome them as an ally, and
  • techniques to increase influence through cultivating allies at all levels.

“Suzette was extremely personable and gave a phenomenal speech during her time at Roosevelt. She connected with many of the audience members prior the speech which I helped the audience interact much easier throughout her facilitation.”

– Brian Donahue, Roosevelt University

“Suzette is the absolute best out there! Suzette visited our campus twice during 2015 presenting on Bystander Intervention and the C.A.R.E. model. She was a true delight to work with during the planning process and even more pleasant and helpful during her visits.”

– Billy Bernard, Monmouth College

“Suzette was extremely encouraging and supportive of our students exploring a topic that often is difficult to dive into. I highly recommend bringing in Suzette to work with any community!”

-Lindsey Dombert, Assistant Director, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Virginia Commonwealth University

“Suzette led a 1.5 day retreat for our Student Government Association at MU. Through truth-telling and active learning, Suzette helped SGA break through barriers that have been hindering their progress and impact at the institution. Suzette’s uncanny ability to build rapport with students while delivering a critical, yet motivating message, made our event a huge success.”

-Director, Student Involvement & Leadership, Millersville University

Suzette’s Bio

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Suzette Walden-Cole is committed to helping people find their truth and become agents of change, whether on campus or within their community. As a former Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, Suzette saw the good, bad and ugly of decisions made on college campuses; and, their ripple effects. In 2013, she decided to take her passion and channel it into a career as a professional speaker and consultant, tackling the topics of conflict resolution, sexual misconduct, risk management, and social justice. She is a global leadership educator focused on allowing others to realize their full potential. Professionally, Suzette received her BA in political science from Mercer Univerisity, and her master’s in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina. Currently, Suzette is a doctoral candidate at Illinois State, studying the factors that contribute to the development of culture in student groups. Fueled by a drive to help others realize their potential, Suzette uses her keynote addresses and educational presentations to address how individuals can create strong, supportive spaces within their communities.


Promotional Resources


Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr, a physicist, mathematician and engineer, earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1942 at age 19. #BlackHistoryMonth #PowerInOurVoice #DST105

Chris and I went to see Black Panther tonight for date night. I have to be truthful it absolutely was everything. I loved it on so many levels. #Wakanda #BlackPanther

When someone tells you that you can't support responsible gun ownership AND gun reform, take a breath, find your courage, and speak truth to bullshit. Both are possible. At the exact same time. Don't let people frame the debate for you.

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Wilberforce University, located in Ohio and home of the Sorority's Beta Chapter, was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans. #BlackHistoryMonth #PowerInOurVoice #DST105

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