A graduate of Salisbury University, Suzanne Farris began her career as a middle school teacher before embarking on a career in the non-profit sector. Suzanne was raised with a father who was disabled due to his military service, and has spent a significant part of her life, both personally and professionally, advocating for individuals with disabilities and their families. Originally intending to pursue a career in public policy, when her first child was diagnosed with a life-threatening genetic disorder, Suzanne made the decision to shift her focus and began looking for ways to empower herself and her daughter to defy predictions and expectations. As each of her other three children received their diagnoses (all different), Suzanne became a mother on a mission to make their world more inclusive and affirming. Over the years, she supported each of them to build their own grassroots non-profit organizations, where they have worked to increase volunteerism, help children with exceptionalities access and learn to ride bicycles, brighten the day of disabled veterans, expand access to books and art supplies, and empower students to be self-advocates. Suzanne was elected to her local school board in 2007 and served for four years in a leadership capacity as first vice-president and then president of the board. In 2021, she was appointed to the board of a charter school whose mission is to provide a safe space for middle and high school students who struggle in traditional classroom settings. In recognition of her public service, Suzanne was named Delaware’s Mother of the Year in 2018.
In her professional life, Suzanne spent eight years with the American Red Cross as a Volunteer Specialist, working with youth programming and volunteer engagement and earned the distinction of Master Trainer before transitioning to the Delaware State Office of Volunteerism. In 2022, Suzanne accepted a position at Parent Information Center of Delaware as the Associate Director and Family to Family Health Information Center Coordinator. During her time at PIC, Suzanne worked with families and professionals across the state, and had the opportunity to present at both the Council for Exceptional Children conference and the Office of Special Education Programs conference, on the intersection of children with disabilities and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and how to build more affirming spaces for all. Suzanne continues to volunteer with her children’s organizations, which now all operate under the umbrella of Students for Educational Equity in the US (SEE US), and as a member of her hometown economic development council. With her oldest living independently, one child who just finished college, a third child just starting college, and her youngest starting high school, Suzanne joined Family Voices excited to bring her lived experience and knowledge of project management to the organization. Suzanne resides in Delaware with her husband David, their children, and a menagerie of animals, including five cats, four mice, and a very spoiled leopard gecko.