Born Susan Diane Zeit in 1950, Susan Z. Ainsworth was highly influenced by the values and beliefs of her father, Harry Zeit. An entrepreneur himself, Harry Zeit would challenge his daughter and sons from a very young age to always see the other point of view and most importantly… see the positive. "No matter how rough you have it," he would say, "look to the left, look to the right, someone always has it worse, so be thankful and focus on the positive." Susan liked to call this "finding the pony."
As a young woman growing up, Susan was naturally inspired by opportunities to help those in need leading to her calling as an emergency room nurse for more than 13 years. In 1983, she decided to put her passion for enhancing the lives and livelihoods of others into a new endeavor, joining forces with her lifelong partner and spouse, Terry Ainsworth, in the area of management and organizational development to form TSA The Leader's Edge.
Susan's operational savvy combined with a compassion for facilitating and helping people realize their full potential was instrumental in the company's steady and impressive growth with a base of clients ranging from small entrepreneurial entities to Fortune 500 corporations. Her achievements were many including being recognized along with partner, Terry Ainsworth, as a finalist in the Charlotte Chamber's 1995 Entrepreneur Awards in the Category of Partnership of the Year. In 1998, she was named a Woman Business Owner of the Year finalist for Charlotte Women Business Owners (now NAWBO-Charlotte). Wilson Learning Corporation also recognized her ability on a national level as both a business owner and performance consultant with recognition including Top Ten Agency, President's Award, and $500,000 Club Award.
Susan's love of life and belief in the potential everyone possessed was exemplified in everything she did or touched. Even while being a business owner, she always found time to give her all to her family, children's schools, community, church, and more. She embraced leadership roles within the community including being a founding member of WomanSpeak, a chair for Cabarrus Meals on Wheels fundraiser and board member, as well as a volunteer for All Saints Episcopal Outreach Ministry.
A member of NAWBO-Charlotte since 1992, she made herself available as a mentor and advocate for helping other women and women business owners realize success until her death in 2001. Susan provided support and guidance to female entrepreneurs, and it is in her honor that each year NAWBO partners with the Office of Adult Students and Evening Services (OASES) at UNC Charlotte to award a scholarship to a deserving student. Her involvements with NAWBO-Charlotte included being a past board member, gala events chair, and education and scholarship committee chair. Her willingness to "drop everything" when someone needed advice or a point of view and her ability to see the opportunity and win-win in every situation made her a true example of what the Susan Z. Ainsworth Scholarship stands for … Spirit … Support … Success.