Mount Mercy Leadership Academy


Meet Suzanne Fox Overdorf ’60, the driving force behind the Mount Mercy Academy Leadership Academy. A current Board of Trustee member, Alumna, past Mount Mercy parent and now a Mercy grandmother, Sue’s commitment to Mount Mercy and developing future leaders continues. Sue’s idea of an eighth-grade Leadership Academy came from one simple conversation.

The Mount Mercy Academy Leadership Program began with a question from my granddaughter Brogan Rose Maloney ’23 as to “why her boy cousins could have their Grandma as their teacher in Timon’s Leadership Program, but she couldn’t because there wasn’t such a program at Mount Mercy”. Needless to say, the leadership at Mercy agreed with Brogan that there should be a Mercy program and the rest is history. Approximately 65 young women have graduated from the program since its inception.

The idea behind the Academy is to attract those students who exhibit leadership potential, girls who will have a positive impact on both their school and wider communities and then through class experiences, to enhance those innate skills. Once enrolled in the program, girls can expect to learn strategies for making a good first impression, skills for better name recall, tools for making good decisions, methods for implementing a group project, effective communication skills and the process for designing a “Vision Board” as a means for focusing on their future goals. A strong emphasis is placed on public speaking throughout the classes. 

A student must be nominated for admission to the Academy by their elementary school principal. Only those students who have solid grades, good character, a strong work ethic, are mature and responsible will be considered. There are 21 girls enrolled in the 2020-21 program; they currently attend local public, catholic and charter schools. 

This unprecedented COVID-19 year has not allowed for in-class meetings, therefore a decision was made that Mercy would offer an on-site Summer Leadership Camp for those current eighth grade students already nominated by their principals and enrolled in the Program. 

One of the Program requirements is that a girl choose and implement a Service Project. Each year their choices astound me. If I had to choose one project however, that is especially memorable, it would be a project that demonstrated a young girl’s capacity for showing love beyond her personal grief. This particularly mature young lady had lost her father the previous year and was so impacted by the concern shown to her and her family by “Grace House”, a facility located in South Buffalo that “enables families to focus on their loved ones while we focus on the well-being of those families”. She chose her project to support those at Grace House who had supported her. When she spoke of this project during her graduation speech, it was an incredibly moving and memorable tribute.

I take great pride in the success of this Program, notably that as of September 2021, the Program will evolve into a Five-Year Leadership Academy, with the intent each year to build upon the strengths of the eighth-grade program. 

In a year where many glass ceilings have been broken, we look forward to seeing the endless opportunities in store for these future leaders.


"The Leadership Program is without a doubt one of the most important things to have happened to me. I learned that a leader isn’t necessarily someone who has a special power but rather someone who finds power within themselves and the talents they already possess. It showed me that being a leader is about being confident in myself and in my abilities, and harnessing those qualities to inspire others. The Program has taught me self-confidence, a trait that I know will empower me and carry me to success in all my endeavors in life."

- Ellie Godsoe '23





"Being a part of the leadership program has helped me become a better public speaker. It has encouraged me to become more independent and given me the confidence to take charge in various projects throughout the Mercy Community!"

                                                                                                           - Kayla Pietrkiewcz '23


"Mount Mercy has taught me some of the most important things in my life and I am so grateful for that. I know that incorporating the principles of a woman of Mercy has made me the best version of myself. I can only hope that in the future, I will continue to grow and teach others the valuable lessons that I was taught at Mount Mercy. While I have learned so many things here, the greatest thing by far that I have learned is that DNA does not always make a family, love makes a family and that is exactly what I have gained here, a second family."

Mariah Rullan

Class of 2019

College Acceptances

Where our Mercy Girls go