Susan MacLaury Receives SUNY Cortland Honorary Degree

CORTLAND, NY – On Saturday, May 14th, Susan MacLaury, executive director and co- founder of the nonprofit media company Shine Global behind the Academy Award and Emmy Award winning films Inocente and War/Dance, received an honorary doctoral degree from her alma mater State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland. MacLaury will also deliver a keynote address at the morning undergraduate ceremony.

“I am incredibly grateful and humbled to receive this honorary degree from my alma mater,” said Susan MacLaury, executive director of Shine Global. “Since my time at SUNY Cortland, I’ve ventured into many different lines of work, with lots of trial and error along the way. It was at SUNY Cortland that I learned it’s ok to try and fail and that’s the message I want to share with the next generation of leaders, innovators, and creatives. I couldn’t have found success in social work, education, and filmmaking without the foundation and guidance my professors gave me as an undergrad all those years ago.”

Since graduating in 1968, MacLaury’s prolific career spans three different fields of work: education, social work, and documentary filmmaking. A licensed social worker and a passionate advocate for women’s reproductive rights, MacLaury has spent much of her career working directly with young people to teach them about health, sexuality, and substance abuse. She has taught at a number of colleges and universities, and served as an associate professor of health education at Kean University from 1994 to 2014.

In 2005, MacLaury co-founded Shine Global with her husband Albie Hecht, and has led and overseen numerous productions of groundbreaking, unflinching films on issues of child labor, child abuse, child soldiering, and the impact of war. In 2007, MacLaury executive-produced War/Dance, a widely-acclaimed, Emmy-winning documentary profiling Acholi children refugees living in Patongo, the northern Ugandan refugee camp under military protection from terrorist group Lord’s Resistance Army. In 2013, MacLaury executively-produced Inocente, an Academy Award-winning film following a 15-year-old undocumented girl pursuing her dream of becoming an artist. MacLaury continues to harness the power of filmmaking to inspire real action and change on the global stage.

Dr. Susan MacLaury, PhD, LSW is the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit media company Shine Global which gives voice to underserved children and their families by telling their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change.  She executive produced the Academy Award® Winning documentary Inocente, the Emmy Award®-winning, Academy Award®-nominated War/Dance, as well as The Harvest (La Cosecha), 1 Way Up in 3D, The Eagle Huntress, Through Our Eyes: Homefront, and Liyana. She is also the producer of the documentary films The Wrong Light and Virtually Free and co-producer of Tre Maison Dasan. Susan is dually degreed in social work administration and health education and was associate professor of health education at Kean University from 1994 through 2013.

Shine Global is an award-winning non-profit media company that gives voice to children and their families by sharing their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about at-risk children. Through tailored distribution and outreach, we connect with our audiences in communities, classrooms, museums, and on capitol hill as part of a powerful engagement campaign to encourage social change.



Donate to Shine Global

Support our work transforming children’s lives through film