Susan Polakoff Shaw is one of the most well-respected experts in press operations, public and media relations who has worked 16 Olympic Games as well as other events around the world.
The International Olympic Committee chose Susan to join its press operations staff for the 2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2006 Olympic Games—the only American woman on staff. In addition to the Olympics, she has managed venue press operations at events around the world including the New York City Marathon, the Pan American Games and World Championships for figure skating, speedskating, gymnastics and swimming.
She has managed publicity and press operations for dozens of domestic multi-sport events, including several U.S. Olympic Trials, national championships and U.S. Olympic Festivals. Since 2015, she has contributed to the planning and development of the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.
At the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, she assisted the President & CEO of the local host committee with special media projects. In addition, Susan has assisted the White House with press operations during two visits to Cleveland by President Obama.
At the 2012 New York City Marathon she managed the ever-changing press operations plan resulting from Hurricane Sandy. In 2010, she organized a press conference featuring Chilean miner Edison (“The Runner”) Peña, for 200 international media in less than 48 hours.
With just one week to go before the start of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) v. Floyd Landis hearing, Susan was hired to manage press operations for the nine-day arbitration at Pepperdine University. This was the first time a USADA hearing was open to the media. In just a few days, she implemented an accreditation system, created a media policy and organized a media workroom for more than 50 international journalists.
Throughout her career in sports administration, she has managed public relations and press operations for national governing bodies such as USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics, U.S. Speedskating, USA Cycling, National Archery Association, USA Table Tennis and U.S. Water Polo.
She was Chief of Research for ESPN’s inaugural Extreme Games in Newport, Rhode Island. For the Goodwill Games, she spent five weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she managed press operations for a variety of sports and venues. In addition to working for ESPN on several international events, she served as research room manger for NBC at the Atlanta Olympics.
Susan worked as publicist for the Goodwill Games in Seattle, Washington. While at TBS, she was promoted to Public Relations Manager for Turner Sports and coordinated publicity efforts for TNT during the World Cup from several cities in Italy.
Susan began her career in Indiana, working at Indiana Sports Corporation as Public Relations Director. In addition, she worked for the Shelbyville (Ind.) News as general assignment reporter and chief photographer. She won two United Press International (UPI) photo awards and served as a stringer for Scripps-Howard News Service and UPI. She received her B.A. in journalism and political science from Indiana University.
In November 2016, Susan and her female rabble-rouser friends formed GRR (Grass Roots Resistance) on Cleveland’s westside. Susan presides over the group of 100 women who in 2019 hosted “Sex Ed Trivia: Are You Smarter Than An Ohio Lawmaker Edition,” raising $8,000 for the Ohio Center for Sex Education. In 2017, they set an event fundraising record, collecting almost $15,000 at “Party with a Purpose” to benefit Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. Susan is a member of the League of Women Voters and CWDC (Cuyahoga Women’s Democratic Caucus) and Red, Wine and Blue.
In 2020, she joined the board of directors of Preterm, a women’s health clinic in Cleveland. Previously, she served on the board of directors of Kids In Flight™ , the Cleveland chapter of WISE (Women in Sports and Events) and was a member of the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association. In addition, she was co-chair of the JDRF Dream Gala that raised more than $500,000 for diabetes research.
The couple have rescued two boxers, Ivory and Indy and are currently managed by Ike, a rescued Boston Terrier mix. If you visit them in their West Park home, you will understand why their house resembles a doggie day care center.