Who is Ret. LTG Susan S. Lawrence? One of her impressive roles is President and CEO of AFCEA International. However, to understand the high caliber woman she is, you must look back a little further. Ms. Lawrence enlisted in the Army a week after her 18th birthday, hailing from the small town of Ida Grove, Iowa. From private to 3-star general, she completed an incredible career in the United States Army and was even honored in her hometown with two ‘Susan Lawrence Days’.
Ret. LTG Lawrence, or Susan, as she likes to be called, is an all-American grass-roots success story that speaks of tenacity, strength, vision, and pure grit. Maj. Gen. Robert Nabors points out that Lawrence “grew up in the part of the Army that was very macho…She cut her teeth in a very tough part of the Army when women had not been as fully assimilated as they are now.”
From the time she entered the Army her mentor encouraged and pushed her to accomplish what she didn’t know she was capable of. “It is so important for someone to see something in you that you don’t see in yourself, who will push you and motivate you to do things you are not comfortable doing, like jumping out of an airplane,” Susan reflected. Even her fear of heights didn’t stop her from earning her wings.
During her years in the Army, she earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., a master’s degree in business administration/information systems management from the University of Georgia, and honorary doctorates in science from Dakota State University.
Her journey from Ida Grove to the Pentagon was anything but easy, but perseverance is in her blood and training. In 2004, Susan was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, she was Brig. Gen. Susan Lawrence, director of command, control, communications and computer systems for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). After having surgery, over the next 15 weeks she would wake up at 4:30a.m. every morning, drive to the hospital for treatment to endure more than 30 rounds of radiation, and still be at work at the Pentagon before 7:30a.m.
In 2013, she retired as the U.S. Army’s Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G6, where she managed the defense enterprise systems, IT infrastructure, command & control solutions, advanced technology, and much more. Since then, she has provided her expertise and wisdom in senior roles at Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture Federal Services.
In January 2022, Ret. LTG Lawrence joined AFCEA International as the first female president and CEO in the association’s 75-year history. “I am honored for the trust placed in me, and both humbled and ecstatic to be the first woman CEO of this important organization,” Lawrence said. “I feel like it’s a role I have spent an entire career preparing for and feel incredibly lucky to guide this association’s way forward.”
We celebrate and honor modern day hero’s, such as LTG Susan S. Lawrence!