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Susan Leathem Sanning

Susan Leathem Sanning
Associate Dean and Director of Service & Social Innovation


As the Associate Dean and Director of Service & Social Innovation at Grinnell College, Susan works in close partnership with the CLS dean and has responsibility for a number of center-wide priorities.  In her role as the Director of Service & Social Innovation, Susan collaborates with campus, community, and global constituencies to provide opportunities for students to explore how their service and social innovation experiences intersect with their academic interests, their personal and civic values, and their professional goals.  She is responsible for identifying and supporting socially just and mutually beneficial campus-community partnerships that: 1. Serve and promote the common good; 2. Leverage the benefit of faculty and student scholarship and creative activity; 3. Enhance curriculum through community-based learning opportunities; and 4. Prepare students to be responsible, self-reflective, and civically engaged citizens.

Susan was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and has lived in various parts of the country including communities outside of Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; and Princeton, New Jersey. She earned a BBA from Baylor University in finance and management and received both an MDiv and ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary before going on to do PhD work in women’s studies and world religions at Drew University. Prior to her work at Grinnell College, Susan served as chaplain and spiritual care counselor for Hospice of Central Iowa and Grinnell Regional Medical Center. She views her current responsibilities as a natural progression of her own values and professional goals, and she appreciates being able to actively live out the lessons of her education and give back to the individuals who invited her into their communities during times of crisis.

Susan is married to Erik Sanning, technical director in Grinnell’s Theatre and Dance Department. Together they enjoy training therapy dogs, riding horses, and raising laying hens with their two daughters on their small hobby farm just west of campus. In her free time Susan enjoys challenging her mind, being outside, reading historical fiction, walking the beaches of Anna Maria Island (Florida), promoting social justice, and gardening.

Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-4940


(641) 269-4508


On-Campus Address: 

Grinnell College
1127 Park Street
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Office Hours: 

8am to 5pm CST

Education / Degrees: 

B.B.A., Baylor University; M.Div. & Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary

Support Staff: