Dr. Susanne H. Thompson: Educational Leader With A Flair For Innovation & Learning

Women in Business


Colibri set out to be a leader in online learning education for licensed professionals and delivered its first online learning courses in the appraisal profession in 1998. Their vision is to become the most admired professional learning company in the world. Dr. Susanne Thompson, President of Moreland University, while building the Teacher Education Ecosystem at the Colibri Group, shares, “Today we work with over 5 million professionals and partners to deliver best-in-class professional education for licensing, continuing education, test preparation, and career readiness. In addition to leading adult online learning in the appraisal, construction, and property services professions, Colibri is now an online learning leader in real estate, health care, financial services, accounting, and most recently, a new industry: teacher education.”

Moreland University is owned by the Colibri Group and has operated since 2011 as a postgraduate institution with a focus on teacher preparation via their core alternative certification program, titled Teach-Now. Moreland is a global, online university that is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and serves students from 160 countries around the world. Moreland was acquired by Colibri in October 2021 to be the first step in building the teacher education ecosystem.

Mapping the Journey: The Life of a Leader

Nature and nurture both play a significant role in a person’s life and shape the person’s personality. Growing up, her father, family, teachers, and college professors have remained sources of inspiration and models for how to live a life of service, integrity, curiosity, and humility. Susanne shares, “I’m inspired by so many people… those that champion causes, those who overcome severe challenges and give back, those in jobs that protect people and communities, those who are making a difference in small or big ways. Inspiration also comes from being outdoors, taking time to read, taking care of your health, and being with your friends and family. I also love inspirational quotes. They are little nuggets of wisdom and energy. There are millions of sources of inspiration in our world today.”

Susanne has been in the education industry for 32 years, serving as a public educator in Pennsylvania as a classroom teacher, building administrator, director of curriculum and instruction, and superintendent of schools. She has extensive experience in the education industry and has held leadership and executive level positions at organizations like Discovery Inc. and Discovery Education, Northwestern Lehigh School District, Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit, etc.

She joined the Colibri Group in November 2021 to build the Teacher Education Ecosystem, a new industry for Colibri. Joining the Colibri Group was a decision based on leading in a company whose core values of Love, Joy, Curiosity, Teamwork, and Boldness are consistently lived and implemented both internally and externally. The focus at Colibri and Moreland is to empower educators to thrive in their careers through their offerings related to licensure preparation, continued education via Master’s Degree programming, licensure attainment guidance, and state test exam preparation support. Susanne shares, “I was inspired by Colibri’s passion for teachers, support for high-quality adult learning, and desire to work in the field of education specifically to respond to the ongoing teacher shortage, address long-standing attrition challenges for school systems, and reignite a passion for wanting to join the education profession.”

"Leadership is an honor and a service to those around you to help colleagues feel empowered, successful, inspired, motivated, and very clear about their work."

Colibri Group: Tech Savvy & Problem Solvers

The Colibri Group focuses on delivering first-class learning experiences to multiple industries, empowering adults to be successful in their careers. The industry Susanne focuses on is teacher education. Moreland University is at the core of its solutions for teachers at the Colibri Group. “We teach teachers all over the world to be resourceful problem solvers and tech-savvy educators through an online, collaborative, activity-based learning system designed for tomorrow’s students in a dynamic and diverse world,” says Moreland.

The unique value proposition at Moreland is the high-quality and collaborative learning design of its online programs. The candidates work in small cohorts to learn from their faculty and the curriculum and tap into the power of learning from one another. Moreland truly harnesses the power of professional learning communities. Their candidates are not writing papers, they are learning how to do the work to be an effective educator by applying their newly learned knowledge to real classroom applications and learning activities. They care deeply about the relevancy of their offerings and the customer experience. As Susanne explains, “We must ensure those starting or advancing their careers in education receive the kind of learning experience that truly prepares teachers to create successful learning outcomes for their students.”

In keeping with evolving market requirements, Colibri has also evolved, innovated, and expanded by staying true to its mission to be the trusted partner for adults seeking to advance their careers through licensure preparation, continuing education, exam preparation, and upskilling to advance in their careers. They’ve grown their reach into new industries, listened thoughtfully to the customers to ensure Colibri’s offerings meet their needs, and innovated online learning through high-quality products and guided learning solutions to stay relevant and timely for busy, working adults. Educational technology is central to Colibri’s work and learning experiences at Moreland. As Susanne says, “We see the power of using online learning tools and connecting with people to foster a sense of community and human connectedness while designing dynamic learning experiences that allow educators to ignite curiosity and engage effectively with their K–12 students.”

Dr. Susanne H. Thompson: Educational Leader With A Flair For Innovation & Learning
Dr. Susanne H. Thompson

Achievements, Accolades, and Life Lessons: Susanne Thompson The Trailblazer

Susanne proudly shares, “My greatest career achievement is the positive impact I make for people—the students in my classes, my colleagues, customers, and business partners. In everything I do, I want to help people find a sense of purpose and meaning so they can thrive as professionals or as people. I think of it as planting seeds for our future and growing and nurturing people to sustain and improve the quality of our world and the human race every day.” Being an educator, Susanne always turned to learning and seeking information and expertise from others as a go-to strategy to grow herself, her colleagues, or the organization. She has grown professionally by always striving to tackle new challenges across a variety of educational and business platforms, “it’s hard to grow if you aren’t changing and taking on new problems or new work.”  Susanne taps into and surrounds herself with smart, incredible people and is open to learning from others’ expertise, seeking knowledge, and not being afraid to feel frustrated at first. She firmly believes that no one has done epic work on planet Earth without hitting many potholes in the road. She points out, “Growing professionally is about how you pick yourself and your team back up after you hit those potholes.”

According to Susanne, leadership is about working with people to foster an environment focused on performance and growth while being aligned on the mission, values, and clear purpose to achieve the goals. Susanne shares, “Leadership is an honor and a service to those around you to help colleagues feel empowered, successful, inspired, motivated, and very clear about their work. How you work with others and bring yourself to the work each day matters.” Susanne has always gravitated towards leadership positions, largely because of a strong desire to help people accomplish great work. Great teachers are leaders. Great teachers don’t direct what is going on in their classrooms; they harness the hearts and minds of their students and create learning experiences that fully engage students’ curiosity to build knowledge and skills to successfully navigate the world. Furthermore, Susanne believes that “A leader is someone who walks the walk and is willing to jump into difficult challenges. A great leader is compassionate, collaborative, an active listener, inspiring, consistent, and decisive.” She also feels that great leaders don’t expect perfection but magnify each person’s strengths and ensure teams have the tools and space to bring their full potential to their work. A great leader is also someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and actively engages with all levels of employees. Leadership is required when there isn’t a map to follow or an obvious solution, great leaders work with people to create a plan and build a roadmap and the tools to successfully climb great mountains.

Over the Horizon: Opportunities and Initiatives

Susanne prioritizes working directly with school systems to address their need for high-quality, correctly certified teachers who want to stay in the classroom. Moreland’s teacher certification programs provide the right level of knowledge, skill, and collaborative learning process to give teachers a relevant learning path and the tools to be very successful in the classroom. Over 90% of their graduates want to stay in the field of education, and employers can trust that a Moreland grad is going to be an extremely competent teacher. Susanne shares, “We will drive our growth by continuing to certify more people who want a fulfilling career in education and adding to our offerings with continuing education, professional development, and coaching for early teachers, which is a definite need for our schools, and we want to step up to meet that need.” Looking ahead, Susanne plans to continue providing and creating solutions to inspire, train, and place incredible educators in classrooms everywhere. She wants to keep making a positive impact on education, growing their reach as a trusted partner to schools, and restoring the joy of teaching by advocating for their teachers. It may not be her immediate next step, but at some point, Susanne wants to use her experience to write about and advocate more for educators, to capture best practices, and start a movement “to value educating our children, our future, in a way that we don’t quite get right yet in the U.S. My legacy will be the positive impact I make on people and the memories we have created. My office is still filled with photos of students, colleagues, and special moments with people. I want to have touched the human race with positive energy and care for one another to allow us to thrive together on this planet.”