Sally Susman Is ‘Breaking Through’ - 27 East

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Sally Susman Is ‘Breaking Through’

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Sally Susman's book

Sally Susman's book "Breaking Through."

authorStaff Writer on May 4, 2023

Sally Susman, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, debuts her first book, “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts and Change the World” at The Church on Saturday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m.

Moderated by Margaret Hoover, host of “Firing Line” on PBS, the two powerhouses will discuss the book and its themes on leadership, empathy, humor and candor. Susman currently serves on The Church’s board where her experience and expertise in leadership are vital to the organization.

“Breaking Through” delves into the story of how global biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer managed the massive communication challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and the race to produce an effective vaccine. With the fear of the unknown and growing political tensions working against them, the book sheds light on the task of winning people’s hearts and minds.

Published by Harvard Business Review Press, “Breaking Through” highlights Susman’s principles that enabled her to “break through,” connect, and help move people forward, not only at Pfizer but over a stellar career. She argues that to be effective, leaders need to muster the courage for candor and connection; they must both disarm with humility and delight with humor.

“Breaking Through” is essential reading for any leader as they face the daunting challenge of communicating in our noisy and often chaotic world. As a gay, married woman, Susman discusses forthrightly the challenges and opportunities of embracing who you are, both at home and in the workplace.

In her role at Pfizer, Susman directs the company’s communications, public affairs and philanthropic activities around the world. Prior to that, during eight years in government service, she focused on international trade issues — first, as legislative assistant for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and later, as deputy assistant secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Currently, Susman serves on the board of WPP, the UK-based global advertising and marketing company, and as co-chair of the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee. She is also on the board of the New York Botanical Garden. Susman is a frequent commentator in newspapers, magazines, and broadcast programs. Susman holds a B.A. in government from Connecticut College and has studied at the London School of Economics. She and her wife, Robin, live in New York City and Sag Harbor.

Following the conversation, a reception will be held in The Church’s ground floor and garden, hosted by Julie Lichtstein, Patty McCormick and Lisa Sherman. Signed copies of “Breaking Through,” will be available for purchase, with books provided by Canio’s Books.

The cost of the book launch event for Sally Susman is $20 ($15 for members of The Church) which includes the wine reception with the author following the talk. The Church is at 48 Madison Street, Sag Harbor. Visit for details.

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