“I’ve spent a lifetime exploring how to promote racial equity, cultural proficiency and community building across diversity. I train and assist parents, educators, grassroots leaders, nonprofit and public agencies to strengthen their communities by honing these skills.” – Susan
What I Do
My paid work in nonprofit community development has taken me from modest beginnings of building a community garden down the street from my home, to training Gulf Coast grassroots leaders after Hurricane Katrina on building sustainable community organizations; from organizing tenants in subsidized housing in Boston, to funding and supporting community building efforts across the country.
My volunteer work for many years has focused on racial justice and public school organizing. I currently serve as co-chair of the board of directors of Community Change, Inc., a Boston nonprofit that has educated and organized for racial equity since 1968.
This next phase of my work life, launching this consulting business, is about integrating all of these threads.
Susan is a part-time faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, School of Education, an affiliate trainer with Teachers 21 and Interaction Institute for Social Change, and serves as co-chair of the board of directors of Community Change, Inc., a Boston-based racial justice education and organizing group.
Who I Am
My parents taught me by example that we are only as well off as the larger world in which we live. Beginning in my teenage years, I have always been actively engaged in the community around me.
Sending my two sons to the Boston Public Schools was part of the package of community. As they grew up, I watched them thrive while so many of their classmates of color did not. I was constantly confronted with “Why?”
This question took me down a path of learning about race, racism and privilege. The more I looked behind the curtain, the more I came to understand the many challenges, large and small, obvious and subtle, that led to such different academic and life outcomes. And the more it troubled me that these outcomes were undermining community – my community, and the larger community in which we all live.
As a white person, learning about racism can be done from a safe, intellectual distance. To understand it from the perspective of white privilege, I had to hold up the mirror. It took me through a disorienting journey that first dismantled so many of the assumptions that underpinned my life, self-identity, world view. Then I came out the other side. A white anti-racist trainer from the People’s Institute once said about racism, “It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo.’ Once you see it, you can’t NOT see it.”
What I’ve come to understand is that this journey will not end in my lifetime. We are working to change beliefs, behaviors and systems that have been embedded in our collective identity since the founding of this country. And if you fundamentally believe that all people are created equal, you have to ask yourself what you are doing to make this belief a reality. Answering this question is what drives my work.