Alumnae Council President Sheldon Gerry Withers ’61, together with Council members Karen Lilly ’84 and Barkley Boutell Henning '73, presented Kuser, a resident of Washington, D.C., with the award, citing her illustrious career working in intelligence at the National Security Agency and U.S. State Department, as well as her long and varied service to Foxcroft and involvement in various non-profits as a volunteer.
After Foxcroft, Kuser attended Bryn Mawr College, graduating with a Chemistry degree in 1953. She went to work for NSA, which had been established less than a year earlier, as a cryptologic linguist. “They asked me if I was good at crossword puzzle,” recounts Kuser with a smile, “and when I said yes, they hired me.” It was the midst of the Cold War and Sukie helped to collect and analyze communications intelligence information, cracking codes and learning Arabic along the way.
In 1953, Kuser moved to the State Department, where she would spend the next 28 years. She continued in intelligence, working in resources and representing the department on various interagency committees. Often, she was the only professional woman at the table and had to stand up for State’s interests, which were frequently different from those of the CIA and military.
Kuser studied national security affairs at the National War College in 1977 -- one of just seven women in a sea of men -- and eventually rose to be head of the U.S. State Department’s Intelligence Reporting Division. Since retiring in 1986, she has continued as a part-time consultant and a senior reviewer of classified documents at the NSA.
Kuser’s service to Foxcroft has also been extensive. She helped create one of the first career panels for students, organized the School’s first phonathon, and established a scholarship for daughters of foreign service officers. For 19 years, beginning in 1988, she served on the Board of Trustees, including several years as Vice President. She has been on numerous committees, including Buildings and Grounds, Development, Steering, and Planned Giving, and she continues as a key member of the Investment Committee even now. In 1999, Kuser received the Anne Kane McGuire ’52 Distinguished Service Award from Foxcroft Board of Trustees, their highest honor.
Kuser has been served on many other boards and councils over the years, often related to her passion for gardening and nature or her abiding interest in international relations. Currently she sits on the boards of both the Friends of the National Arboretum and the Foreign Policy Discussion Group of Washington, D.C. She is a Fellow and serves on several committees of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Her past service includes the Foreign Student Service Council, World Affairs Council, D.C., Institute of World Politics, McKee Botanical Garden, St. Johns Community Services, Blue Hill Library, and Georgetown Symphony.
Foxcroft’s Distinguished Alumna Award recognizes graduates who have been pioneers and/or made outstanding contributions in their fields; received local or national recognition of achievement; demonstrated dedication and interest in civic affairs; and has been a role model. Previous recipients include the late Ambassador to St. James Court Anne Legendre Armstrong ’45, anthropologist Dr. Anna C. Roosevelt ’64, longtime congresswoman Millicent Hammond Fenwick, and White House photographer Diana Hardin Walker ’59.