Susan Rushing


The 2015 Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership

Susan Rushing

Counselor, chief executive officer of Burke counseling center, church deacon and advocate for person centered care for mental health among the underprivileged. Your influence and dedication to service spans the regional, state, national, and church spheres.

Your work to raise the standards of mental health care for the underserved has made a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals and families as they seek mental health care across this nation, the state of Texas, and especially the counties in eastern Texas. You believe deeply that state of the art mental health care should not discriminate against class or race. This has been demonstrated in your work at the national and state levels with the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, Mental Health Corporations of America, the National Council for Community Mental Health Centers, the Texas Council of Community Centers, and Burke counseling centers.

For 35 years you have been actively engaged in the social justice ministries of Austin Heights Baptist Church. There you have participated in many roles and currently serve as a deacon. This worshipping community provided you with your spiritual calling and continues to nourish your soul for the work God has called you to do. You quoted from Frederick Buechner to explain the depth of your spiritual vocation to serve in the mental health field and in Burke in particular. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Your energy is boundless and infectious. Your devotion and passion to the causes you engage lift the spirits of those who work alongside you.

As your friend and colleague Jake Squiers says, “Susan exemplifies the servant leader principles; she enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.  Her vision has led Burke to be recognized as a state and national industry leader in community behavioral health services.”

Because of your leadership, your visionary planning in national and local mental health services, and your commitment to a community of compassion, creativity, and collaboration, Seminary of the Southwest is honored to present you with the Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership.

Cynthia Briggs Kittredge                                                                       David Scheider
Dean and President                                                                                Faculty Host