Susan Hager, founder of communications firm, dies

Susan Kulka Hager, a former Owensboro resident, who founded and headed the communications firm Hager Sharp in Washington, D.C., died of complications from kidney disease July 26 at her home in Washington. She was 63.

Mrs. Hager and Marcia Sharp started the communications firm in 1973. They specialized in providing communications, public relations and marketing services to corporate, non-profit and government clients. Sharp retired in 1993.

Mrs. Hager was a founder and the first president of the National Association of Women Business Owners; had been president of National Small Business United; and had served on the U.S. Small Business Administration national advisory council.

After graduating from Brescia University in Owensboro, she joined the Volunteers in Service to America program, and lived in the Eskimo village of White Mountain, Alaska. While there she started a community newspaper and a Head Start program.

She continued to work for VISTA and as a recruitment officer for the Peace Corps in Washington. She was a program analyst for the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and program director for the National Center for Voluntary Action before she and Sharp started the communications firm.

Active in many organizations in Washington, Mrs. Hager had been a member of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Council on Small Business of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce boards of directors. At her death she was a member of the board of trustees of Brescia University.

A recipient of many awards, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2000. She was one of 25 people selected by Working Woman magazine in 2001 as heroines and heroes whose actions had helped women advance in the workplace over the previous quarter century. Washingtonian magazine honored her with a Washingtonian of the Year award in 2004.

Survivors include her husband, Eric Hager; a daughter, Elizabeth Finley of Narberth, Pa.; a sister; four brothers; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in September. Memorial gifts are suggested to Washington Hospital Center Kidney Transplant Fund, Washington Hospital Center Foundation, 110 Irving Street, NW, East Building, Room 1001, Washington, D.C. 20010.