Meet Susan

Susan Epstein is a social entrepreneur, a civil rights attorney, an early AI researcher, and an educator with more than 20 years experience developing and implementing impactful strategies and programs in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

She has successfully built and managed diverse teams, engaged stakeholders, leveraged technologies, led proactive policy formation, and managed financial systems. Susan excels in partnering with executive teams and managers to ensure that programs and practices are thoughtfully aligned with strategic goals.

Susan received a Bachelor of Science at Stanford University where she studied Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.

Her specialties are nonprofit and foundation strategy, executive coaching, strategic planning, values-based and social-purpose management to inspire high performance, mission-aligned technology design and needs assessment, and corporate communications. She emphasizes leadership development, social responsibility and impact, and best practices in management and philanthropy. Susan is a member of the California Bar Association.

Susan with Barack Obama

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.

Susan facilitates a meeting

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.


Strong Results. High Integrity

Susan is active with the Community Wildfire Prevention Plan development team in her area. 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.


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