Susie Ellis Empowers Women Through Wellness

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Susie Ellis, cofounder of the Global Wellness Initiative, began her career in wellness right out of college, when she started working at Golden Door, a Southern Californian high-end spa. Immediately it awakened her passion for health and healing. “I became enamored with the industry,” she says. “It really suited me well to focus on eating well, exercising and reducing stress.”

Susie’s passion for wellness combined with her business acumen (she earned her MBA from UCLA) led her down a path of success. She has served the wellness community in a range of roles: as president of Spafinder Wellness, on the California governor’s council of physical fitness and cofounding the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute in the early 2000s, which is holding its 11th annual Global Wellness Summit this year.

The summit is modeled in part after the World Economic Forum, bringing together top-level decision makers from around the world. It is spearheading a dialogue on both the present and future of of the $3.4 trillion global wellness industry. “We started the institute to support research for global wellness,” explains Susie. “We give that research away and that has helped with the momentum of wellness. We’ve become the group that’s defined wellness.”

One of Susie’s chief goals throughout her career has been moving forward the understanding of the role spas play in wellness. “In the past spas were seen as more of a ‘want to’ rather than to a ‘need to,’” she says. “It didn’t have the credibility that it does today. I was interested in moving the pendulum from spa to wellness.” To this end the Global Wellness Institute founded, a website that provides medical evidence of wellness initiatives.

“It took me many years to realize the value of my contribution to this sector,” says Susie. “Spas were were considered a feminine accent on the field rather than an important contributor to wellness.” Acting as an international advocate for the industry gave her the opportunity to impart knowledge and spark discussion, moving the wellness industry forward. “It’s important that women the contributions they are making,” she says. “Now I do recognize my value. It took a woman to really be able to help the momentum of the wellness.”

Susie Ellis is one of the three inspiring women being honored at our October 18 fundraiser, Champions of Change. Get your tickets here!

Mikki Brammer