Portrait by Devi Pride Photography.
As the CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Susan oversees the stewardship of over $170 million in assets and mobilizes people, ideas and resources to make Santa Cruz County a place where all people will have the opportunity to grow and thrive.
Susan began her career in the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and founded and evaluated programs to prevent the spread of the virus on the Central Coast. Later, she became passionate about the empowerment, safety and permanence of foster youth and became a foster parent and the Executive Director of CASA of Santa Cruz County. Her work with children and youth in the child welfare system led her to care deeply about prevention and she began her work leading First 5 Santa Cruz County. At First 5, she led the design and funding of programs that measurably decreased child maltreatment, improved early language and literacy skills and provided health insurance and improved health outcomes for children from birth to five years old. Bolstered by a scholarship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Susan was a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Susan then led the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s investments in young children before returning home in 2017 to lead the Community Foundation.
Raised in Minneapolis by parents who hold strong values of community engagement and justice, Susan came to Santa Cruz in 1991 and earned her BA in Community Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Susan holds a master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business with certificates in Social Innovation and Non Profit Management. She is the (undeniably) proud mom of Nicky True who is a (favorite) 6th grade teacher in Seaside. Susan can often be found baking late at night and biking by day in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her partner, Ben, and friends. Susan’s hope is that she gives at least as much to others as has been given to her.