Sue Mirza - 100 Strong
Sue Mirza’s passion for Save the Children is palpable the moment we move past the small talk. Like many conversations these days, we speak over Zoom, but that does nothing to dampen the enthusiasm she exudes when discussing her 20-plus years as a supporter and deeply engaged partner.
In the late 1990s, Sue was invited by longtime Greenwich friends and Save the Children supporters Liz and Chris O’Brien to attend a cocktail party showcasing our programming. The speakers that night made a big impact. Before long, Sue was planning to accompany Chris on a trip to Guatemala to witness the work firsthand. A natural disaster tabled these plans, but Sue was all in. She became a Save the Children supporter and never looked back.
Sue took up her first project as an individual donor alongside veteran Save the Children staffer Gary Shaye, then country director in Bolivia. For $5,000, Sue provided young adults in Bolivia with computers to help teach them technology and offer the promise of a future they would otherwise be denied. She recalls her amazement at the time, at how a relatively small sum could do so much for so many.
Meanwhile interest began growing around the idea of a Greenwich volunteer council. Sue was encouraged by agency staff – and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan became the catalyst. Connected to Pakistan through her late husband Muzzi Mirza’s family, and in partnership with her good friend Tasneem Ghogawala, Sue helped launch a fundraiser to support the earthquake response. Soon after, with the help of a small group of Save the Children supporters in town, the Greenwich Leadership Council (GLC) was off the ground.
The GLC was extremely active. It raised several million dollars over 15 years and helped build awareness of not only the organization itself but also the lesser-known U.S. work that it has been carrying out since 1932. In addition, the next generation of Save the Children supporters was nurtured through the Teen Council.
Fast-forward to 2019. Having stepped down from her GLC leadership role after many years, Sue was ready to find a way to become even more deeply involved. That’s where 100 Strong came in. Drawing on her decades of experience and depth of knowledge with Save the Children, she dove into membership.
Sue credits her deep engagement in philanthropy to a few key individuals in her life. Her father, she says, was a successful but humble and generous man and her mother-in-law was a journalist, passionate about human rights and reducing poverty. And of course, Muzzi, her late husband, is an ongoing source of inspiration as she works to build his legacy, supporting organizations working toward positive change for those less fortunate.
Giving back is a lesson that Sue has worked to instill in their three children, Alexander, age 27, Christina, age 26, and Sean, age 17. The three grew up in the Save the Children universe, volunteering, attending events – Alexander even completed an internship with us. Sue hopes that one day when they take the reins of the family’s philanthropy, they will choose to keep giving to this organization that means so much to her.
Not willing to leave anything to chance, Sue made the decision to include Save the Children in her will. That way if her children find their philanthropic interests lie elsewhere, she knows that Save the Children will be included in her legacy all the same. This simple step, she says, is the best way to safeguard a cause that means a great deal.
With so many years as an engaged partner under her belt, Sue continues to build her knowledge of Save the Children’s work and share her insights. She has traveled to Tennessee where she witnessed the stark conditions in which children in rural America too often grow up, participates actively in webinars and supporter opportunities, and just recently became a significant donor to the Combatting Rural Child Hunger program. This has allowed her to interact with program staff, whom she describes as true heroes.
Sometimes, Sue says, it can seem like little change is taking place. She has asked many staff members over the years how they stay optimistic in the face of such slow and challenging work. The answer is always the same – if just one child’s life is changed, one family, and another and then another, each one of these makes the work worthwhile.
It is this perspective that keeps Sue motivated and striving every day. She sums it up succinctly when she says, simply, “There’s so much to do – let’s get going, folks!”
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