Svetlana Sussman: A Tribute

Published: June 14, 2013

Svetlana Adamova Sussman, Administrative Officer at the Sloan School of Management, died Friday, June 7, at home. She loved working at Sloan.

Svetlana SussmanSvetlana Sussman

Svetlana was born in Leningrad in the U.S.S.R in 1960. Growing up as the daughter of scientist parents, she belonged to the intelligentsia, read and circulated samizdat literature, followed Italian cinema, went to an English-specialized school, was deeply knowledgeable about art history, got a university degree in chemistry, and traveled widely in the former Soviet republics and to England, India and Eastern Europe.

In 1994 she met Harris Sussman while he was speaking at a conference in St. Petersburg and she was chief interpreter for the American speakers. The following year she and her 12-year-old son Leo came to Cambridge where she and Harris were married.

Adapting to life in America was not easy, but having the Charles River so close made it easier, since she had always lived close to the Neva. She worked as a translator, was trained as a mediator, and taught Russian at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Eventually she started to work as a “temp,” which took her to MIT, and the rest is history. Such good luck for all of us.

Svetlana was an avid tennis and Ping Pong player, swimmer, yoga practitioner, meditation devotee, gardener, hot air balloon passenger, canoe rower, bird watcher, beach walker, woods walker, cook, ballet, opera, and classical music enthusiast, traveler, and reader. She did many of these things in quick succession, if not all at once.

She also started and ran the only international humanitarian project for blind students in Russia for eight years, after her blind father died. This effort has provided direct assistance to more than 1,000 blind students and their teachers throughout Russia, including 70 computers, many from Sloan after the warranty expired.

Svetlana was a devoted mother and bulya (grandmother). Her son Leo, a violinist, lives in Belgium with his wife, Mashid, a photojournalist, and their son, Tigran. Harris continues to live at their home in Somerville.

— Submitted by Harris Sussman and Leo Adamov, June 13, 2013