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Susan Gunderson Receives Founder’s Award

Susan Gunderson has been a visionary leader from the moment she accepted the call to lead LifeSource. It is our privilege to honor our Founder and CEO Emeritus with this distinguished award.

Susan Gunderson’s legacy as founder of LifeSource is as far-reaching as all of those she has taught, mentored and supported who will continue her vision and this noble mission into the future.

It is impossible to quantify the impact Susan has had on the lives of so many, but here’s a start. During her time as CEO, LifeSource:

  • Cared for more than 15,000 donor families,
  • Shared the gift of life to more than 15,000 organ transplant recipients,
  • Healed an estimated 1 million people through tissue and corneal transplants.

The organizational culture she created might be one of her greatest legacies, an organization filled with people committed to its mission. An organization with a culture that is welcoming, passionate and innovative; where people ask “How are you?” and wait for a response. People at LifeSource take immense pride in being part of the “LifeSource Team” and it can’t be overstated how incredible it is to build a place like that.

A Lasting Legacy

It has truly been a unique honor and privilege for all of us to have been able to work with Susan Gunderson. The accomplishments during her tenure are significant and profound: 

  • Expanding far beyond organ donation programs. In 1999, LifeSource added a tissue donation program to procure skin, bone, valves and other tissue needed to heal patients, including burn victims and cancer survivors; and in 2016, it added an eye donation program to help restore sight to the blind and visually impaired.
  • Advocated for and expanded access to donation in diverse communities. For more than 30 years, LifeSource has worked in partnership with individuals and organizations from our diverse communities. A hallmark of this work is implementing Barbershop Conversations, to share information about donation and related health issues.
  • Supported, advanced and facilitated expanded access to transplantation through partnership with transplant centers, researchers, and policy makers. Those partnerships have resulted in: 
    • Heart Transplant Advancement making it possible for more hearts to be transplanted including those under the donation after circulatory death (DCD) pathway. 
    • Partnering with the Hope Act, which allows for HIV+ donors to give to HIV+ recipients. 
    • Partnering with transplant center to make gifts of face and hand transplantation possible. In June of 2016, LifeSource facilitated the first face donation in our region.

“Susan’s contributions to LifeSource and the organ procurement organization (OPO) community are unmatched, and we are deeply grateful for the 33 years she has dedicated to founding, building and growing LifeSource and its talented team.”

Tim Bjork, Chair, LifeSource Board of Directors