Photo Credits: Katie Rie Photography
Happy June and Happy Pride Month, Moms! This month we're spotlighting local mom, Susan Barranco, managing partner at Hennessy & Roach. Read all about this leading mom in our community in our exclusive interview!
Please tell us your name / employer / profession(s)
My name is Susan Barranco, and I am the managing partner for the Milwaukee office of Hennessy & Roach, P.C., the largest insurance defense law firm in the Midwest. My practice is focused on defending employers and insurance carriers/administrators in workers compensation litigation.
How many children do you have?
We have two children, Beatrice (6) and August (2).
Please tell us a little bit about your family.
I live with my two children and wife Chloe, who is originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, in the Jacobus Park neighborhood of Wauwatosa. Chloe and I met while I was living and working in Chicago before I attended Marquette Law. I grew up in the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and am the youngest of four.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
I was very proud of Beatrice during a recent trip to the Dells, where she displayed some previously unseen bravery on the waterslides. It has also been a joy to watch her in senior kindergarten at Jefferson Elementary—not only observing her learning, but also her growth socially. She is becoming a big girl way too quickly! We are very proud of Auggie for charting his own path and beginning, unprompted, to call me “Mommy Susie.” Apparently, he did not see the distinction between “Mama” and “Mommy,” as we had taught Bea to call Chloe and me.
What do you like best about your job?
Getting out and meeting people from around the country who work or practice in this area, speaking and educating clients on workers compensation issues, and being a leader for my firm. I also enjoy the autonomy and variation in my work, which is challenging less so in its complexity than in the volume of problems to untangle and information to synthesize. I have been lucky enough to have a leadership opportunity within a great law firm, as I moved to and opened our Milwaukee office in 2015. I enjoy working not only with other members of the workers compensation community, but also my firm colleagues, who tend to be down to earth, fun, well-rounded, and all around great people—despite the fact we are also pretty darn good at what we do.
What's the hardest part of being a working mom?
Feeling as if I am missing out on time with our children. There are times in which I feel spread too thin, and fear moments are passing me by that I will never get back. I want to duplicate myself and be everywhere at once.
What has been the biggest surprise so far in motherhood?
Becoming a mother in and of itself has been a surprise to me because I never envisioned myself becoming a parent. I grew up believing the gift of having a family was reserved to others who did not, I suppose, love like me.
I grew up believing the gift of having a family was reserved to others who did not, I suppose, love like me.
Outside of this, because of how jarring it was for me, initially, when we became parents, I have also been surprised how quickly our children—and living for them—became integrated into my existence. I have been surprised by the dramatic shift in my values. For instance, I never envisioned moving out of Chicago, but by living there while Beatrice was young, I realized both the importance of providing an environment appropriate for raising children, and just how much my hometown of Milwaukee had to offer in that respect.
Is there such a thing as work/life balance?
Yes? I enjoy my work, so the fact my work can bleed into “life” does not always bother me. That said, parents with small children will probably always struggle to find balance as a relates to anything, whether that is the balance between work and life, or between parenting and focusing on your relationship with your partner and even yourself as an individual.
Do you have any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms and learning how to navigate this new world?
In part to achieve that elusive work-life balance, my advice is to be present. Be cognizant of the need to create opportunities for quality time with your significant other and your children. When you have that time, remember what matters—lose your phone and clear your mind from the work or other stressors and distractions. Also, join your neighborhood association to meet others in a similar situation who can share tips, babysitters, and of course cocktails.
Do you have a favorite MKE restaurant/store/hangout?
We love Collectivo and Ruckus & Glee, the coffee shop and toy store at the corner of 68th & Wells in our neighborhood. We eat a LOT of Mekong Café. I love Rounding Third, where I have walked to and shuttled down from to Miller Park many times—and where I have witnessed some pretty classic karaoke. To be honest, the most fun we seem to have these days is in the backyards and basements of our Jacobus Park neighborhood friends who like us have small children.
To be honest, the most fun we seem to have these days is in the backyards and basements of our Jacobus Park neighborhood friends who like us have small children.
What (in your opinion) is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
Milwaukee presents incredible quality of life overall. The change was stark compared with Chicago, where I have lived for over a decade. Milwaukee offers opportunities of a first-class city while also maintaining a sort of small-town feel. The commute is manageable. This small improvement allows for more quality time to be spent with your family so is a huge plus. Even with that overall benefit, though, I hope Milwaukee can find a way to get behind a bold, big idea on public transportation that resonates whether you live in Waukesha or downtown.
How do you teach your kids about inclusion?
We generally try to teach our children to be kind to others and make good decisions. If you can raise empathetic children, the rest should fall into place. We also read books that show all different types of families.
Do you and your family have any plans for Pride Month?
Having small children can really sideline your Pride game, I must concede. We have taken Beatrice to the Pride parade in the past, and that was such a wonderful experience. While I would love to say we will do the same this year not just with Bea but with Auggie, boys are (or at least this boy is) so different from girls…I fear if I took him I would look in the wrong direction for one moment and look back to find him on a float. Also, I am hoping to sneak away to Pridefest with my niece.