Who's Who of Professional Women


Susan Mahaffee

In her previous position as chief people officer at Majestic Steel USA, Susan S. Mahaffee was named to the coveted Top 50 Women Leaders in Ohio list in 2022 by Women We Admire, a membership organization and publication that honors the most accomplished female executives and leaders across the United States and Canada. For Ms. Mahaffee, the recognition was a culmination of being surrounded by other powerful women, especially in industries where women are typically underrepresented. She is passionate about helping women in leadership roles, developing women leaders, and overcoming challenges or barriers that women encounter in the workplace or place on themselves.

Since then, Ms. Mahaffee, an accomplished human resources management executive, has embarked on entrepreneurship as the president and founder of People Rise LLC, a business development firm in Severna Park, Maryland, that specializes in empowering people and organizations to help them succeed, showing owners how to rise to business challenges, and bringing out the best in people to promote business and personal growth. Primary services provided include serving as a human resources concierge answering client questions as well as helping with career development and coaching that focuses on companies’ human resources departments and people transitioning into a career in human resources. People Rise LLC also gives guidance on the education and certifications necessary to help professionals hone their skills to become better practitioners, works with technical experts who are now people leaders, and customizes project works that involve leveraging experience by helping to design solutions for clients for whatever needs and challenges they may face.

Ms. Mahaffee started People Rise LLC to amplify her impact across companies after more than two decades of experience in human resources. She strives to achieve and maintain success so people will know that she is far from an everyday “HR person.” Believing that “HR” is a term of the past and “people operations” will be the term of the future, she shares her vast knowledge in the industry with people and businesses who want a broader understanding of the concept of human resources. Working with her through her business, she says, can help people and businesses unearth their challenges and reach their goals. In the coming years, she is determined to continue to build a business that supports companies and keeps a strong focus on people, the backbone of every business. She believes human resources is not only about hiring and firing but about businesses and company owners treating their employees fairly and appropriately, empowering them to reach their full potential, and helping them grow professionally and personally. Moreover, she hopes to grow her company by employing 10 to 15 staff who will be dedicated to delivering training, facilitation, and expertise to more companies, including the government.

Born into a family with humble beginnings, Ms. Mahaffee attributes her own success to her parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1978 seeking political asylum.  They instilled in her the values of hard work, resilience, and integrity – characteristics she intentionally applies when interacting with people. Her professional achievements also are the result of being a good listener and passionate about helping clients to explore options and resources they have yet to consider. Identifying solutions and approaching situations differently to put people at ease is vital to Ms. Mahaffee.

Prior to establishing People Rise LLC and before her time at Majestic Steel USA, Ms. Mahaffee held a stream of human resources positions, steadily rising to senior levels at various companies, including Waste Management, AECOM engineering consulting firm, Office Depot, DeWAL Industries, Inc., SMART Management, Inc., and starting at the Colony South Hotel. She has earned a plethora of certifications from the National Notary Association, the Human Resource Certification Institute, the National Diversity Council, Hult Ashridge, the Human Resources Professionals Association, Wharton Executive Education, the Society for Human Resource Management, Development Dimensions, and other key institutions. In addition, Ms. Mahaffee is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, the board chair for the Anne Arundel Society for Human Resource Management, and a member of the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. She holds a Master of Business Administration in global business administration, a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership and human resources management, and an Associate of Science in advertising communications, all from Johnson & Wales University.

Civically active in causes she cares about such as literacy and book donations, Ms. Mahaffee is also a music enthusiast as a member and supporter of BravO, a premier young professional arts lover and opera program at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The proud mother of a son, she most enjoys her time with him as well as socializing with friends, antiquing, gardening, sports, traveling, food, and wine.


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