Mill Valley, California
Susan Kirsch is the founder and president of Catalysts and the Catalyst Institute for Local Control. CATALYSTS is a statewide grassroots network of community leaders, both volunteer and elected, dedicated to promoting affordable housing while preserving single-family zoning, the environment, and reliable infrastructure.
Prior to that, Susan founded Livable California as a continuation of years of community organizing for the purpose of educating, networking, and activating others to promote transparent, representative government that serves the majority of people with the broadest, common good.
Her activism began, as activism often does, with organizing her own neighborhood association. It expanded to a city-wide group called Friends of Mill Valley, and then grew to the county-wide Citizen Marin. In 2016, she ran for the Marin County Board of Supervisors and narrowly lost against the incumbent, getting 42% of the vote.
With Livable California, Susan builds on years of volunteer service, leadership, recruiting volunteers, building teams, facilitating meetings, planning and moderating forums, expanding networks, and raising money.
Over the years, Susan has drawn from her background in education, including ten years as a professor in the Management Department at Golden Gate University; from her experience in non-profit management, including as Executive Director of the American Sports Institute; 15 years as a fundraising consultant, and from volunteer service as the former Chair of the Marin Coalition, and currently on the Advisory Board of Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (CO$T).
Susan’s Letters to the Editor and Opinion Pieces are frequently published in The Marin Post the Marin Independent Journal, and most recently in the San Francisco Business Times.
She began writing about legislative issues in 2011, with the introduction of SB-375 and Plan Bay Area. She exposed the erroneous assumptions, faulty numbers, and manipulative process, and her work, along side others in Citizen Marin, led to the elimination of many of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Priority Development Area (PDAs) projects. Other op-ed pieces have addressed the quiet power of Joint Power Authorities (JPAs) and the danger of “group think.” More recently Susan’s focus is on the erosion of local control, the trend towards regionalism, and the cultural bankruptcy that tolerates deceit, violence, and greed above truth, kindness, and generosity.
In her spare time, Susan writes poetry, gardens, travels, hangs out with friends, and celebrates life with her two amazing adult children.