Community Engagement, Democratizing Work, General, and Learning Circles

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Elder, and many other activists, these words guide my work.

Susan (she/her) is a white, working/middle class, cisgendered parent who is energized by opportunities to learn and facilitate learning; to design participatory gatherings and organize information; to tap into the power of effective collaboration and the generative potential of conflict; to connect across differences and contribute toward more equitable futures in her communities based in Poughkeepsie, NY and the wider Mahicantuck Valley.

Susan has dedicated her working life to advancing mission-driven organizations with diverse foci: Just Transition / regenerative economies, food system change, holistic adult education, anti-poverty, economic and rural development, and faith-based. Her work has involved participatory facilitation; strategic planning; program design, implementation and evaluation; resource development; financial management; and governance. Prior to beginning her work with the Good Work Institute, first as a contracted facilitator in 2017 and then as a team member in 2018, she served for five years as the first Executive Director of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, coordinated the grassroots Poughkeepsie Plenty food justice initiative, and managed the cross-departmental community engagement strategy of the Omega Institute. She was awarded a Community Leadership Award from New Horizons Resources in 2019. Before moving to the Mahicantuck Valley in 2008, she worked in Romania, India, Ecuador, Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, Mali, the Philippines, Ethiopia and China as a consultant to Oxfam America, director of the US Office of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Peace Corps Volunteer. She holds a graduate degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Partner to Chris and parent to Sebastian, she replenishes her reserves alone or with dear ones over food, on trails in the woods, in meditation, in backyard hammocks, over or along the river, reading, reflecting, and journaling.