Meet Susan

Susan Epstein has been working and raising her children in Santa Barbara County for the past 18 years. Susan received a Bachelor of Science at Stanford University where she studied computer science and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.

At Chicago Law, her instructors included the future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama.

A Record of Innovation in Fiscal Responsibility, Sustainability and Social Service

For more than a decade, Susan has served on the Goleta School Board advocating for the success of every one of the 4,000 students, while providing strong fiscal management. During surplus years, she proposed the practice of allocating funding for two years out rather than the current year. This allowed the district to plan ahead, so that when the economy shifted they were prepared and avoided sudden program changes for the students. In addition to this time cushion, she advocated for increased revenue sources. Specifically, the expanded mission of the Goleta Education Foundation resulted in increased revenue for student programs, and a very popular after school program is both meeting needs and generating significant revenue.

The school district weathered the recent recession without laying off any permanent teachers. By refinancing a 1996 bond, the district was able to return $1.5 million to taxpayers in 2013.

Susan was voted the Cox Communications Environmental Hero in 2013 for leading the efforts to eliminate pesticides in 120 acres of playing fields, and to transform school meals to locally-sourced and cooked from scratch.

The district partnered with the City of Goleta and the Community Environmental Council to upgrade energy efficiency of lighting at four school sites. Most recently, she has been advocating for solar installation on roofs and permeable paving to recapture water as the district is looking at replacing aging roofs and pavement at most of its school sites.

Susan’s review of technology systems at a Fortune 500 company led to a corporate-wide change in software that yielded significantly greater returns. She championed thoughtful use of technology in the Goleta School District to improve instruction, learning, and administration. She also upgraded the software and hardware systems in a large regional nonprofit that served Santa Barbara County’s nonprofit sector.

Susan has served on the board of directors and volunteered with numerous community organizations throughout our community that address unmet needs ranging from legal assistance for low-income people to improved health care. She has also served as an attorney coach for the award-winning Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team.

As Founding Director of the nonprofit initiative Santa Barbara Village, Susan created partnerships with local agencies and businesses to support seniors in staying independent in their homes as long as possible. She brought together dozens of agencies and businesses that serve seniors and seniors themselves to form work groups to better understand and meet needs.

Our Neighbor

Susan has raised her two children who attended public elementary schools in the Goleta School District and public junior and high schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Her daughter graduated in 2017 and is now attending college; her son is a junior in high school.

Living in a high-risk wildfire area and having evacuated multiple times, Susan is deeply grateful to our firefighters who fight wildfires month after month. She believes we must create proactive solutions to reduce wildfires through proven strategies like structure hardening and strategic fuel breaks that save lives, preserve our watersheds, and restore native vegetation.