Her Giving is Personal: Donor Susie Bruce Admires Program’s Grassroots Passion

For donor Susie Bruce (seen at center with sister Betsy and father Robert), giving to the Alray Scholars Program aligns with her life’s work and her family’s values.

Its mission fits her father’s philosophy, as embodied in the Bruce Family Foundation—that education and hard work empower people and create self-sufficiency. “My parents were always supportive of education,” she said. “Their philosophy was, it didn’t matter what kind of work you do, education is worthwhile.”

A longtime counselor at North Suffolk Mental Health Association in East Boston, Susie works with children and counsels public school students; she deeply understands the challenges they face in attending college. Prior to receiving her Master’s in Social Work through Simmons College, she worked in community-based mediation programs.

She learned about the Alray program through Lisa Fliegel, who ran an innovative art therapy nonprofit for girls that was affiliated with Susie’s agency. Lisa was a founding board member of Alray and continues to share her talents with the organization as a member of its advisory board. After being introduced to Alray founder Neil Swidey, Susie said she was impressed by the group’s mission and Neil’s book that inspired it, which focused on high school basketball in Boston and the narrow margins of urban education. “I read the book, The Assist, and I thought, my dad would love this book,” she recalled.

Susie’s father, Robert Bruce, is an investment advisor who started his family’s foundation in 1999, in their hometown of Chicago. She and each of her brothers and sisters are allowed to choose three charities to support every year. For the past three years, Susie has chosen our organization.

She cites a “personal connection” to the founder as a key factor in how she chooses her charities. She prefers to support local, grassroots causes over larger, more established organizations. “I think that really makes a difference in giving, when you get to know the person and you know what they’re passionate about,” she said. “You admire the work they’re doing and want to support them.” Alray’s commitment to empowering young people resonates with her. “People deserve second chances, and education is the foundation that helps you choose your work in a better way.”