Susan and her late husband, Jack, moved to Sarasota from Kansas City, Missouri, in 1989. They were drawn to this city by the warmth of the Florida sun, the crystal white sand beaches, the lovely bay, and the arts and cultural amenities.
Susan opened her law practice in 1990. She immediately immersed herself in community affairs, serving on numerous Boards of Directors of human service organizations including Prevent Blindness, the Sarasota Mental Health Resource Center, and the Volunteer Center. She served on the team that created the Women's Legal Fund, which provided free legal services to working poor families and was its first chair. Her participation on not-for-profit boards led to her being asked to serve on "Compass," an early community-wide needs assessment. In 1995, the Sarasota County Commission on the Status of Women recognized her as a "Woman of Impact" in the area of law.
Susan has used her professional expertise in family law to advocate against domestic violence and for the legal rights of children. In 1996, the Florida Bar honored her with its Pro Bono Service Award for her advocacy on behalf of permanence for children in foster care. The Florida Supreme Court recognized her, as well, for her service to the Guardian Ad Litem Program.
The Sarasota County Commission appointed Susan a Code Enforcement Special Magistrate in 1991. In that capacity, she heard and decided cases as diverse as instances of derelict property, land use and zoning, tree protection and environmental matters, and the maintenance of package sewage treatment plants.
While Susan was President of the Sarasota County Civic League that organization joined in a national election year project with PBS on voter engagement called "By the People." She also worked with a team to create a Good Government Campaign School to encourage potential candidates to run for office by providing practical campaign skills training. The emphasis of the campaign school was the encouragement of civility in campaign conduct.
The Sarasota City Commission appointed Susan to the Planning Board in 2008 (Chair in 2011) where she served until her election to the City Commission in 2013.
Susan helped her neighbors form the Hudson Bayou Neighborhood Association and acted as its first President. During her service as President, Lift Station 7 failed, releasing several hundred thousand gallons of untreated sewage into Hudson Bayou and Sarasota Bay. Susan and her neighbors worked with other neighborhoods to discover the cause of this disaster and to seek remedial action. This resulted in system-wide improvements, including upgrading and replacing multiple lift stations. Work on this issue and on a storm drain labeling project was a key element of Sarasota County's All-America City Presentation. Susan had the opportunity to travel to Anaheim, California, as a member of the All-America City team when Sarasota County received that designation in 2006.
When the Hudson Bayou Neighborhood Association joined the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations. Susan was elected to serve as Treasurer, District 2 Representative, Vice-Chair, and Chair of CCNA.
Susan understands and reflects the values of the community. She has been a voice of common sense and knowledge on planning and development issues. She engages in diligent preparation and study of the issues. She responds to constituent concerns. She attends community meetings to listen to and understand the pulse of the community. Susan's core aspiration is to preserve and to promote a high quality of life for all citizens of our community.