As the Assistant Dean and Director of Service and Social Innovation in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS), Susan leads innovative civic engagement, social justice, and service learning initiatives at Grinnell College. The position is responsible for identifying and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships that: serve the common good; leverage the benefit of faculty and student scholarship and creative activity; enhance curriculum through applied civic learning opportunities; and 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), going to the theater, and gardening.