C. Suzanne Bates

Suzanne received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Stephens College and is a recipient of its Excellence in Art Award.  She completed extended studies in Europe and a graduate-level certificate program at Harvard University’s, Graduate School of Design.  Suzanne is listed in Who’s Who of Interior Design, and was the first nationally certified interior designer in Minnesota.  She also briefly attended her family-owned business school because her father told her that if she could type she would never starve.  Her highest marks were in penmanship.

Suzanne has been a vital force in the Minneapolis design community for over three decades.  After ten years of senior positions with prestigious firms in both St. Louis and Minneapolis, she founded the award-winning Design Syndicate, Inc. (DSI), a firm that received a national reputation for innovative, functional and cost-effective work.  DSI not only boasts an extensive list of internationally renoun clientele including Yoplait, ConAgra, John Deere, Mayo Clinic. 3M and the singer formerly known as Prince, but has also been published in every major design magazine in America.

Suzanne also served as design editor for Twin Cities Magazine, was a contributor to Corporate Report Magazine and chaired the National Speakers Bureau for the International Interior Design Association.  She spoke extensively about interior design and also developed and presented a weekly segment for the television magazine show Corporate Video—a program about business for the local NBC affiliate.  Her final design related position was regional marketing director for HOK Architects, the world’s largest architectural firm.  Suzanne co-founded Aging But DANGEROUS in 2008 and since then has been devoted to building the company profiled on this website. Suzanne’s 2015 launch of her first book, DON’T PEE ON MY SOFA & OTHER THINGS TO LAUGH ABOUT, achieved Amazon’s Top Ten status, in its category, in the first week of publication.

Suzanne’s spiritually driven personal life consists of balancing four adult children (one is a cancer survivor), six grandsons, and a variety of exercise regimens while intensely pursuing her own personal growth.   In 2001, she and her former spouse co-chaired World Presidents Organization (WPO) Education Committee for the Twin Cities chapter, winning a First Place Award for “Best Program of the Year” (internationally).  Her passions include contemporary art, boating, philanthropy and Team Ghana (an organization she co-founded in the late ‘90s to empower the women and children of rural Ghana).  Suzanne is an also accomplished equestrian with multiple National Championships to her credit.

A glimpse inside her psyche would reveal an intensely energetic and spontaneous woman with a thirst for knowledge that is partially driven by her lifelong struggle with A.D.H.D. and minor learning disabilities.  Her commitment to empowering women was instilled in her by her mother and grandmother who were clearly capable of being so much more than society encouraged them to be.  Her humor and appreciation of the smallest details remain her fuel for life.

Jean Ketcham

After finishing four years of college at Kansas State University in Elementary Education, Jean Ketcham had one problem: she knew she did not want to teach.  Instead, she married her college sweetheart (still married after 48 years) and became executive secretary to the vice president of a large insurance company in Kansas City.  Even though she was quite good at her job (typing 110 words a minute and taking shorthand at 90 words a minute – thank you very much), she soon knew it was time to move on to something new.

Jean took a “covert” position with an executive recruitment center specializing in the placement of high-level executives of well-known companies.   She was the person that checked out candidates resumes (creating new ones for them), gave them code names so no one would know who they were, and snuck them in and out of the back offices so no one in the lobby or hall would see them.  It was, after all, the late ‘60s when people were losing their jobs right and left.  Unlike today, people were skittish about making it public that they were keeping their options open.  Most often, her clients would fly in from New York and she would meet them in some covert location to strategize.

Jean’s career was on a roll and at the age of 30, found herself coming into her own. She admits having the most fun while owning a clothing store in St. Louis, MO.  As fate would have it, Jean happened to move next door to a wonderful woman who became her best friend.  This female entrepreneur was 20 years Jean’s senior, but a whole heck-of-a-lot more fun than some of Jean’s other friends.  They had a ball.  Jean helped her open two more stores, and ultimately purchased the flagship shop after her friend decided to move to Florida to live the easier life.  It was here Jean discovered she had a knack for motivating women.  She took customers that bought polyester blouses and convinced them that they were worthy of silk.  This era in the apparel business was incredibly exciting because designers were just entering the ready-to-wear market.  Diane Von Furstenburg, Pierre Cardin, Bill Blass and a new young designer named Liz Claiborne were reaching out to the average American woman.  This experience more than anything else helped Jean learn about women and their attitudes about their bodies, their lifestyles and the way women saw themselves.

At 40, Jean’s husband was transferred from St. Louis to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It meant Jean, too, had to move, starting all over again.  That frightening transition brought new challenges – and success.   Always moving forward, Jean accepted a position as an independent rep in the contract textile business.  Working in an industry dominated by men, Jean called on her extensive knowledge and experience of working with women and helped build the tiny company into one of the top three contract fabric companies in the world!  For nearly 20 years, Jean worked with major interior designers, operated a showroom in the Design Center and traveled extensively.  Jean co-founded Aging But DANGEROUS in 2008 and since then has been devoted to building the company profiled on this website.