Susan Brown '71 (She Who Laughs Last) Honored for Community Service
The year was 1993 and Susan was racking up an impressive run of "firsts." She graduated first in her 1971 Moritz law class, was the first woman attorney to be hired by Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, and was the first woman in the firm to be named partner. The test she failed was a mammogram and the diagnosis was cancer – cancer so bad it nearly leveled her. Instead, this resilient and determined woman beat the disease and became one of the area's most tireless advocates for breast cancer research and education.
Susan's course of treatment included a lumpectomy, mastectomy, bone marrow transplant, and radiation. With characteristic wit and humor, she described the regimen as "slash, burn, and poison." But Browns are survivors – it's in their genes. Susan is the daughter of the late Paul W. Brown '39. Captured during WWII, he escaped from a train transporting allied prisoners to Germany. After a long cold winter hiding in the Italian Alps, Brown eventually rejoined the American troops. He would go on to become Ohio Attorney General and an Ohio Supreme Court Justice.
Her Father's daughter, Susan began volunteering for Koman Columbus Race for the Cure as soon as she was physically able. She wanted to "help raise awareness and fund the search for better means of early detection and less draconian treatments and – eventually – a real and certain cure so that none of my 9 nieces – and none of their daughters or granddaughters – ever has to worry about a diagnosis of breast cancer."
Komen Columbus is an affiliate of the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. Nancy Brinker established the Foundation in 1983 to fulfill a promise made to her sister Suzy, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36. The mission of the Foundation is to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease through research, education, screening and treatment.
As Susan Brown's involvement in Race for Cure grew so did participation – from an initial 875 Columbus participants to more than 20,000 in 2003. Bob Werth '65, Vorys managing partner, says, "Susan has been involved in the race since at least 1994. She has been a tremendous fundraiser for the race. Susan served as president of the Board for The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Columbus affiliate from 2000-2002, receiving the prestigious Susan G. Komen Cameo Award in 2002 given in recognition of outstanding leadership and the many contributions she has made."
Susan's legal practice grew as well. Her clients rely on her expertise in many matters, including contracts, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, business organizations, formation and business planning, non-profit and tax-exempt organizations, securities law, private placements, public offerings, and securities regulation. For more than ten years, she has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America.
During the two years Susan was president of Komen Columbus, Race for the Cure participation first exceeded 20,000, raising more than $1,000,000 for national research and to fund local organizations working to screen, educate, and treat local breast cancer patients. Typical of the organizations receiving grants are the local Hadassah's "Check It Out" program that educates high school girls about breast self-examination, and the Columbus Black Women's Health Project that teaches breast health to minority women from four ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Susan Insley, undergraduate classmate and friend of Susan's for more than thirty years says, "Susan has been a catalyst in helping literally thousands of women and men who bear the burden of breast cancer."
Ohio State is well represented among Susan's other volunteer commitments. She has served on OSU's Alumni Association Board of Directors, Alumni Advisory Council, and WOSU's Board of Directors.
Susan's course of treatment wasn't that different from many other women. It is her leadership in breast cancer awareness, research, and education that sets her apart. Her commitment to the cause of women's health and the fullness of the life she lives is the ultimate survivor's story – her last, and best, laugh.
Susan will receive the College's Community Service Award at a reception for entering students to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13 at the Ohio State Faculty Club. For more details, contact Laura Landy Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org. To send a note of congratulations to Susan, contact her at SEBrown@vssp.com.