We asked this month's spotlight a few questions. Below are her answers.
AR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
SS: My name is Suzanne Strassburger and I am the fifth generation in a family-owned
meat business, Strassburger Meats. I knew at an early age that I would enter our family business but my parents valued the importance of a college degree and insisted I attend
a good school and receive a superb formal education. I graduated with a B.A. in
sociology from The Catholic University of America in 1989.
AR: Can you tell us about Strassburger Meats?
SS: We specialize in prime, dry-aged beef and provide steaks to some of the best
steakhouses in the country, including some of my favorites -- Smith & Wollensky, Keens
Chop House, Quality Meats, and more recently, Lavo, Marble Lane, and the Dutch. We are
also the only prime dry-aged steak supplier in the
Williams-Sonoma online butcher shop catalog; customers can get steaks
delivered right to their doorstep.
I learned early in my career that everyone's tastes and needs are different, particularly when it comes to food. Therefore, I
decided to start my own brand of meat called Suzy Sirloin, a healthier meat alternative. Suzy Sirloin offers a variety of all
natural beef, pork, lamb, and veal. It is retail ready and available to purchase online as well. We were recently featured on
the Today show as a holiday gift idea.
I also started The Sirloin Report, a free website offering information and up-to-date news about the meat industry in America. I
share this report whenever I can, whether it's to train new steak house staff, for Wall Street dinners, or children's schools
on the importance of eating healthy. I've even traveled all the way to Hong Kong to talk about the American meat industry.
AR: What are your responsibilities as the CEO of Strassburger Meats? A typical day?
SS: Being a CEO in a family-owned company gives you plenty of responsibilities; it's really about making the right decisions
for the company all day, every day, whether it has to do with pricing, production, trucking, or work schedules for our
employees. My day starts as early as 3:30 a.m. and may not end till after 10 p.m. We like to frequent most of the
restaurants we sell to so we know our customer. I am constantly promoting beef and entertaining people from Asia for
AR: How do you balance your work life and your personal life?
SS: My work is my passion. Even when I'm traveling on vacation, I find myself on a farm or visiting a local butcher shop.
AR: What is the most interesting thing that you have come across in your line of work?
SS: The most interesting thing about my business is dealing with so many different personalities. I practice patience, humor,
forgiveness, and gratitude. The fact is people really do not understand our business and there is a lot of misinformation
out there. I feel like it's my job to better inform the public about the meat industry.
AR: Are there any challenges in being a female CEO of a meatpacking company? If so, what are they?
SS: You have to gain peoples' trust. I take a position as a leader and not a follower. I try to keep it positive and real. That is
AR: When you are not at the helm of Strassburger Meats, what do you like to do?
SS: I enjoy traveling and going to museums and Broadway shows. I like to play golf and be outside but it's a commitment that
I haven't found enough time for. I also belong to the American Irish Historical Society.
My family and I are also committed to raising money for the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airman's Club.
We have a website called www.sistersalute.com to help raise money and awareness for our Armed Forces, to help them and
thank them for supporting our freedom.
AR: How did Catholic University prepare you for your current career? Any specific courses that you took or experiences you had while a student?
SS: I feel extremely fortunate to have attended CUA. I understand that it's a lot more difficult to get in a good school now.
Catholic University did a lot to prepare me for my life and my career. For instance I always played sports -- three years
of volleyball, a little tennis and a few strokes in the pool. My senior year I played co-ed intramural
volleyball with my friends from Puerto Rico, mostly to stay out of trouble, but it taught me to be a team player.
My major was sociology and to this day I still thank one of my professors, Douglas Sloan. If it wasn't for
him I would have never graduated. He had the best dry sense of humor and when I was the only one laughing in the
class he knew I was totally paying attention! I have that dry sense of humor myself and I have a feeling I may have
picked it up from him.
Going to college in Washington, D.C., was the best. There was always something to do and see. One of my favorite
places in the world to this day is the Basilica of the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I used to go there every
week just to get some private downtime and pray. It is one of
the most beautiful places I have ever been. My Catholic
religion continues to be very important to me. I keep a photo of Pope John Paul II on my desk.
AR: Were there any specific faculty members who mentored you?
SS: Dr. David Foster was a philosophy professor who was very challenging; he would drain your brain and
really make you think.
Dr. David Clark in anthropology was also a favorite of mine, especially because he wore shorts to class and we got to
do archeological digs in front of Colonel Brooks!
Taking a public speaking class with the drama department has really come in handy and given me a lot of confidence
with all my meat lectures. I also enjoyed all the other drama classes I took, as well as a summer course studying
Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon. (Now you know the reason why I have declined seven reality shows. But if the
show Dallas asked I would love to do a cameo!)
AR: By the way, your classmate, George Motz, B.A. 1990, said he still keeps in touch with you. Besides George,
do you keep in touch with other friends or classmates from CUA? If so, how? Who in particular?
SS: I still keep in touch with several friends who I met while at CUA. I am a huge fan of George Motz and I am so proud of
all of his accomplishments, as well as being a sponsor for his New York film fests. He even directed me in a Wendy's
hamburger ad about bacon.
My college roommates -- Tricia (Ganley) Nora, B.S.N. 1989, Marliese (Schneider) Donaldson, B.A. 1989, Linda (Palaszewski) Batton, B.A. 1990, Jackie Stephans-Hazeltine, Rachel Briley, B.M. 1989, Carrie (Goldner) Cinquanto, Esq., B.A. 1989, J.D.
1992 --are still my best friends and we speak every Friday. And of course the famous Michael Byron, Esq., B.A. 1989, J.D.
1993, who helped me with my papers at school and still does my editing. I am blessed to call these wonderful people my
friends. I am also godmother to some of their children, I am happy to say.
Facebook got me back in touch with my favorite volleyball coach Mark Jaeckel who is still very positive and supportive. I have great memories from CUA that I cherish.