Susan Helden Case has been elected as a board member of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.
Case’s early career was as a high school English teacher in Irvington, N.Y., and she later taught both English and humanities in the community college system and in the women’s prison in Phoenix, where she resided for 40 years. She was also the director of a program for women transitioning out of prison called Women Living Free.
Among the several boards and organizations she was involved in were the Arizona Humanities Council, the Phoenix Library Foundation and Homeward Bound, a housing project for homeless women and their families.
She was also the first female president of the Arizona Tire Dealers Association and was president of the Phoenix Wellesley Club. She was one of the early members of Social Venture Partners of Arizona and served as a lead partner for Cresciendos Unidos, a Latino organization working with families. She also formed a giving circle in Phoenix that invests in women’s weaving projects in Nicaragua.
Case and her husband, Claude, owned and managed Charlie Case Tire, a tire distribution company in the southwest. She was the head of the commercial tire division of the company and later focused her time on dealer development and retention. The company was sold in 2001, and five years later Susan and Claude relocated to Santa Barbara.
After moving to Santa Barbara, Susan and Claude brought Social Venture Partners to this community.
She is also involved in the Women’s Board of the Santa Barbara Art Museum, the Music Academy of the West Auxiliary and is on the Santa Barbara Library Foundation.
Her passion is education and its importance to building a strong community. Of her three children and two spouses, three are college professors and one is a high school literacy coach.
The Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara’s public education system, serving 16,000 students in 22 schools from Goleta to Montecito. For more information, call 805.284.9125.
— Margie Yahyavi is executive director of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.